Each of us has a unique soul blueprint imprinted indelibly in our cells. Our soul blueprint holds the key to our happiness. Activating it is the key to living self-expressed, authentic and joyful lives.
We tend to think of our soul as disembodied, independent of us. We conceive of our physical body as belonging to this world; and our soul as something apart. Far from this, our soul is woven into the very fabric of our being and the two are inextricably intertwined. It is the non-physical that breathes life into the physical. Our physical body is infused with the energy of our soul, and we are in constant communication / interaction with it throughout the day – whether we know it or not.
Our soul can never be apart from us; it is the essence of who we are.
What defines whether we are activating our soul blueprint or not is how closely we are listening to the communications of our soul and living into alignment with them.
Our soul is speaking to us all the time. It speaks to us through our emotions and intuition. It speaks to us in the silence of our heart space. It speaks to us in our passions and enthusiasms. It speaks to us in the words of others, or the words of a book, a movie or song.
When we learn to listen to the voice of our soul within us, we are able to step into a truly authentic way of living. A way of living that honors us and who we are. A way of living that nurtures and expresses the essence of who we came here to be.
Our soul speaks to us in each and every moment.
It speaks to us when we feel unenthused, uncomfortable, compromised, fatigued, disinterested; telling us that the course we have embarked upon is not in alignment with our soul.
It speaks to us in the vague unease or the murmurs of discontent that we so often ignore and brush aside.
It speaks to us in our feeling of malaise; in our longing for something more.
It speaks to us in the whispers of desire that we feel in our heart to choose one thing over another; one experience over another.
It speaks to us in moments of happiness, joy, pleasure, gratitude, love, appreciation; telling us that yes, in this moment, we’ve got it! We’re living in alignment with this essence of who we are.
When we live in alignment with our soul we become the happiest, most authentic, most joyful version of ourself; expressing the essence of who we really are in the innermost part of our being.
By choosing to release from our life the things that send us into negative emotion; by choosing to spend more time on doing things that cause us to feel gratitude and joy, we can bring ourself into greater alignment with our soul. As we do, we transform our life. We experience blissful moments of deep connection to our Self and the world around us. We experience the joy of living true to ourself. We begin to live more in the moment, trusting in our soul to lead us and the goodness of the Universe to provide. We value the sacredness of all life – including our own – and begin to honor the truth of who we are and live on purpose. The more we come into alignment with our soul, the more we open ourself up to a radiant joy in Life and the living of it.
Although we are taught to listen to and value the opinions of everyone but ourself, our own inner voice – our soul – is the only one that can guide us true to course in our quest for happiness, fulfillment and joy.
As we listen to the song of our own heart and deepen into a more intimate relationship with our soul, our soul re-minds us of who we came here to be.
Speaking to us in moments of silence and stillness, it whispers to us our highest and grandest vision of who we could be. It gives us a vision of how we might use our specific gifts and talents, the wisdom garnered from our experiences, to serve the whole and share our light in the world; giving us a beautiful vision of what our life could look like if we surrendered to its call and chose to live our life in conscious alignment with our soul, activating our fullest potential over and over again.
In these moments, our soul is speaking to us of our soul calling.
Written into our soul blueprint are our soul’s callings and purpose. For some of us this may express as a particular job or role; teacher, healer, parent, listener, artist, writer, animal lover, activist, friend.
For all of us, at the most essential level, our soul calling is to co-create with the Universe a life that enables us to experience a deep joy in living and creatively express our love, our passions and our unique essence in the world.
When we hear the calling of our soul, it is up to us to respond; taking the first steps on the journey it is urging us to embark upon.
Too often we make ourselves and our happiness our last priority. In doing so, we fall out of alignment with our soul and the joyful lives we came here to live and experience.
Our soul’s greatest desire is that we feel radiantly, blissfully alive. It wants us to live lives we love; happy, joyful and fulfilled. It wants us to evolve and grow into more of our potential; living beyond our safety zone; reveling in the rich and vibrant experiences we encounter along the way.
This is our soul’s calling.
This is what we came here to do.
This is what we came here to be.
If we have been ignoring it, sweeping it aside; at some point in our life our soul will find a way to grab our attention. It may to do this though illness; the shock of losing a loved one; or some other turbulent event in our life. Perhaps the loss of a job, the break up of a relationship, or some other dramatic change in the circumstances of our life.
At such times of unrest and uncertainty, the voice of our soul rises to the surface demanding more. More happiness; more joy; more peace; more abundance; more health; more well-being; more truth; more love; more energy; a way of living truer to ourself; a way of living that brings more pleasure and joy.
This is a crossroads in our life. We can either go on doing on what we’ve always done, getting the same results – a life lived out of alignment with our soul, the feeling that there’s got to be something more. Or we can make a different choice. Decide it is time to listen to the whisperings of our heart and the voice of our own soul’s wisdom and step up into a new experience of life; one that allows us to expand; one that allows us to open up and experience that something more.
As we open up to our soul, we embark on an ongoing awakening experience; a lifelong journey of living into more of of our truth.
The closer we come into alignment with the truth of our soul, the more we feel our soul calling express itself as a specific role or purpose.
Our soul only speaks to us of our specific soul calling when we are ready.
Its timing is perfect, for it is divinely orchestrated.
We have learned to embrace our experiences and evolve through and beyond them. We are learning to love ourselves first; that it is when we do that we offer the most to others. We are stepping up into honoring ourself and our truth; finding our passion and following that.
It is our time to live authentically and true to ourself. To make our mark on the world in a way that only we can do, following the lead of our deepest soul longing.
This is the voice of God within us. It is up to us to listen to this inner voice and honor our deepest most soul-felt desires.
This seed of longing planted within us before we were born might not seem the most logical course. It may take us in new directions to the ones in which we thought our life was going. It will almost certainly involve courage and risk, and we may be required to leave some of our roles and the people and places we knew behind. We’ll be asked to expand ourselves and our comfort zone over and over again. We’re undoubtably going to encounter new challenges as well as new vistas as we adjust to this new way of being in the world.
The desire planted within us is so strong, the vision of the potential we came here to embody so pure and true, that even when we fear we may not be equal to the task; even when we fear the reactions of others, we find the strength to proceed.
As we take more steps on the path of this grandest and highest vision of ourself, deepen into a life of co-creation with our soul, we see that we are supported.
We learn to trust.
The path of our soul longing is not always the easiest one we can walk, but to live true to ourself and in alignment with our soul is the most important decision we will ever make. It may turn our life upside down, but it also turns it around. At last we are living authentically; at last we are living in integrity with who we are. There is a beautiful feeling of bliss inherent in this.
When what is in our soul blueprint becomes what we live and breathe – when our internal and external worlds are aligned – there is an indescribable sensation of peace, joy and well-being. We feel at ease in the world and more ourself than we’ve ever been. It’s such an overwhelmingly enriching feeling that we no longer care so much for who or what others think we should be or do or say. Our soul’s calling sustains and nourishes us, allowing us to grow into the fullness of our potential. We become living expressions of Source; eloquently expressing the unique essence of who we are and who we came here to be, shining our light brilliantly in the world for all to see.
It takes courage, faith, strength and perseverance to live like this. But although it may be the “road less traveled,” it is the one I wish choose over and over again.
I’ve had the good fortune to meet through my blog and elsewhere online a number of fellow journeyers. I’d like to introduce four of them here. These are people who are actively embracing the truth of who they came here to be, and stepping up into the fullness of their potential. People who have honored the whisperings of their soul and heeded their soul’s calling, turning inspiration into action – even when it means putting themselves out there on a limb.
Four people who have stepped up into what their soul-felt desire was asking them to be and do and, in the purity of their response to their heart’s longing, co-created with the Universe a beautiful gift to be shared with the world.
Noelle Vignola has taken her experiences with meditation and used them to write a beautiful and contemplative book Into Your Meditation. A book which is imbued with the essence of the silence and stillness of the sits she loves so much, and offers the reader “a series of daily, bite-sized mediations (a)rranged in thematic sections of seed, root, stem, branch, leaf, bloom and fruit.”
Tony Gilotte has taken his understanding from years of ministership and combined them with his enthusiasm for the mystic’s spiritual path to write an inspirational book, Beautiful Wanderer, that invites us to look into our lives and see how much closer they are to a spiritual life than we may think. His book acts as a bridge between the Christian and mystical, and encourages us to “find the beauty in (life) like never before.”
Reba Linker has condensed her three decades of study with a spiritual teacher and the “spiritual alchemy that takes the challenges of life and transforms them into the purest spiritual gold to be shared with others,” creating an a la carte menu to share alongside her pre-existing programs in her mission to help more people live “more fulfilled, abundant and joyous lives.”
Rozanne Henry followed her intuitive guidance and her soul’s longing to create 100 paintings – “100 expressions of love.” This act opened her up to receiving more of the Divine Feminine energy, and now she shares this beautiful, soft and gentle – yet powerful – energy in the world through her personalized intuitive commissioned paintings and the sacred spaces she creates for women which invite them to “surrender, allow and receive” and intuitive painting classes which teach women to connect to the Divine Feminine as they paint images of the Feminine in intuitive ways.
In the act of following their soul’s most intimate longing, each of these people has sown seeds of beauty, love and wisdom in the world. Seeds that will not only blossom and bloom in their own life, but also in the lives and hearts of all those they have touched.
Our soul calling is not static; it evolves and expands as we do. I am excited to see how these four people I’m honored to journey with continue to blossom and bloom; where their soul’s longing will take them next.
Where will my soul longing take me? Where will yours take you?
Let’s ease ourselves away from our comfort zone into the deep waters of our soul longing. Let’s allow ourselves to be inundated with passion and inspiration. Then, let’s follow that.
This is both one of the areas around which I received coaching from Reba Linker – a wonderful friend who I met online – on Paint Yourself Into the Pictureand, quite literally, what being on the show and posting the link to it here means to me.
Despite a great deal of personal work on my patterns, and an overwhelming desire to share my story in a public forum so that my experiences can reach and encourage as many others on a similar path as possible, it is clear that I still have some internal resistance to being seen…
Well, as many masters have said, this is a lifelong journey.
And, as the late Susan Jeffers said, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
(Please click to open it in a new window and view, as my plan doesn’t support videos).
In it Reba and I discuss how I can reframe reaching out to people as connecting to make it something that feels more in alignment with my values, and also talk about the process of creating a unifying theme – a “bumper sticker” as Reba calls it in her blog – to aid in the process of writing a book.
I hope you all enjoy the show and get as much out if it as I did. Don’t forget to subscribe on Youtube for more of the same.
What does stepping up into being more visible mean to you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Earlier this month I had the chance to meet for a short two hours a colleague of mine from the days when I first came to Japan on the JET program. It was the first time for us to have any personal contact in the thirteen and a half years since our term of contract ended. Though we had remained friends on Facebook we each had only a superficial idea of the trajectory the other’s life had taken, bits and pieces we’d cobbled together from each others’ infrequent status updates.
As we sat in a lovely traditional Japanese style restaurant and enjoyed the feel of the place with its tatami mats and low tables and the noren at the door we had just enough time to exchange brief updates on our lives and catch up on the news we had of some of our mutual friends and acquaintances.
Many of the people who take part in the JET program are go-getters. With their adventurous spirit, their boldness and daring and their natural curiosity and ability to relate well to others it’s as if they were born for success. A good deal of them also have a highly evolved social conscience and a strong desire to do their part to help make the world a better place. This is no less true of our group of JET alumni than any other. As we talked it came out that one former colleague is currently playing a central role in welcoming Syrian refugees into Canada; another went on to work on the Peace Boats and then with international aid organisations. On a bit of a tangent yet another, and for some reason this delights me, is apparently married to a Hong Kong pop star.
And then there is my friend herself. She was always special. Even while we were on JET she single-handedly set up a a web-based international volunteer organisation that helps to match volunteers to projects working at the grassroots level and which, as far as I know, continues to this day. She then worked as the International Relations Officer for the U.S. Department of labor for many years before quitting and going back to school to get an MBA. With her MBA still in process she’s already been accepted by a world class company to work for them after she’s done.
Talk about an exciting and inspiring life, not to mention the exceptional CV.
Despite the astonishing amount of success she has enjoyed and the impact she’s been able to have at the grassroots level in various countries around the world she is delightfully down to earth; humble; fun; caring; intelligent; passionate – an altogether lovely person to spend an afternoon with.
And then there is me, with my altogether more normal life.
Even as we exchanged stories about some of the amazing work our former colleagues are doing and I relished the paths their lives have taken, I felt myself automatically comparing the trajectory of my own path to theirs as my old nemesis my Ego popped up (just for fun) to pummel me around a bit and try to knock me down.
“Strike while she’s weak,” it seemed to say; instantly sensing the hairline fissures that were appearing in the somewhat fragile shell of my self-confidence. They might not have been deep enough to puncture it, but they did create a slight chink which my Ego was quick to spot and use to its advantage.
“Look at all the wonderful things your former colleagues have been doing,” it gibed – the unsubtle subtext being “all the things that they’ve been doing that You Are Not.”
I couldn’t help but feel as if the comparative smallness of scale of my current life made it – made me – inferior, lacking.
I must hasten to add that this is not a reflection in any way on my friend, who said and did nothing to make me feel this way.
It was all in my mind.
A story perfectly crafted by my Ego – which has lived with me all my life and thus knows exactly where the chinks in my armour are – designed to hit me where I’m most vulnerable.
Having shown its face, my Ego was determined to have some fun. Fun for my Ego does not, as a general rule, mean fun for me. I felt my energy field shrink as my ego continued to knock the bottom out of my self-esteem by regaling me with the glory of my former colleagues’ lives whilst reminding me that here I am still living in the same village doing the same thing as I was sixteen and a half years when I first came to Japan.
To be fair to myself I’m not actually doing the same things as I was sixteen and a half years ago.
I’m not even doing the same things as I was two and a half years ago.
But my ego doesn’t really care about that.
My ego is a master at finding ammunition where there’s none to be found; leveraging facts to suit its current line of attack. “Here you are living in the same village still teaching English,” it held forth. The sentiment behind the words was, “It’s as if you can’t be bothered to get out from under your kotatsu (heated table) and do something else with your life.”
Whittling away at my self-assurance with its words, it expertly declared me inadequate; tried to make me feel that the way I’ve been living my life isn’t good enough / big enough / brave enough / exciting enough / contributing enough / significant enough.
And for a while there it had me; the old familiar pattern that “I’m not enough” crept back, inserting itself insidiously into the cells of my body. As it did so it sapped my self-respect and was on its way to sundering me from myself.
But then I got what was going on. And it really didn’t take that long. The repetition of the old pattern itself, the tired familiarity of it, jolted me back into mindfulness and I realised it was just my Ego playing with me again, trying to sully me with this its latest onslaught.
While it was managing to do it covertly, infiltrating my mind with stealth like a ninja in the night, it had the upper hand.
But now I’d shone the light of my awareness on it, I was a match for it, ready to take it on.
Reminding myself that I was the only authority in my life, and that my Ego had no means of challenging my rule if I stood strong in my power and refused to be deceived by its wily machinations, I commanded (in true Shakespearian style):
“Ego, begone, and be all ways away.”
(If I’m honest what I actually said was far more contemporary, far less civilised and would probably necessitate a foul language alert, but I don’t want to offend anybody).
The point is that by calling out my Ego like this I was able to stop its games and take back my power. A single moment of awareness allowed me to restore the authority in my life and in my head to where it has always belonged: with me. By a simple act of noticing I could incapacitate my Ego in its attempts to usurp my mind, prevent it from infiltrating my consciousness with its treacherous – they were, after all, about getting me to disrespect and dishonour me – falsehoods; at the same time destroying its separation tactics as I reconnected with the truth of who I am.
In an abrupt about-face we went from Ego – 8: Julia – 2, to Julia – 8: Ego – 2.
Oh, the power in a single moment of self-awareness.
I’ve got into the habit of literally talking to myself like this when I notice my Ego is back to its old tricks: comparing and contrasting, finding me lacking, making me feel unworthy or insignificant, miring me in self-doubt or self-condemnation.
Telling your Ego to shut up and stop filling your head with such a load of old baloney (or words to a similar effect) puts a stop to your identification with your Ego and its elaborate stories, enabling you to release the hold the Ego has over the way you think and feel and so confound its attempts to work against your highest vision of who you want to be. It’s a really useful tool for claiming back your authority and putting yourself (the self that you are beyond the Ego) back in the driving seat in your head.
But in reality our Ego, far from being our enemy, is one of our greatest friends. In bringing up my old familiar stories and patterns my Ego was doing me a huge service. Every twinge of inferiority it made me feel, every dose of insignificance with which it inundated me, was like a huge wake up call showing me with pinpointed precision exactly where I haven’t got it yet, where I still don’t love myself enough, where there’s a need to heal in order to restore myself to wholeness.
You see, there’s no doubt that my friend is brilliant. She’s a stellar woman and human being who has passion and commitment, kindness and compassion, a great sense of loyalty, a wonderful sense of fun, outstanding ethics and a genuine desire to get out there in the world and make a difference by helping others.
I’m sure that many of our former colleagues are equally amazing.
But the point is, so am I.
Most of those things that I just said about her… If I started to ask myself what I am instead of focusing on what I’m not, they’re things that I could also say about me.
And although it might be hard for me to see it sometimes, and although I might be doing them on a much smaller scale, I’m doing equally amazing things in my life.
Different things, sure. But that doesn’t make them any less great.
We are all designed for greatness; but what we (read “I”) need to remember is that there are endless variations on the theme.
Some of us are here to work on an international scale and some of us are not, and both of these are fine. Whether we work on a local scale, a national scale or an international scale or zig-zag back and forward between them what matters is that we embody our highest vision of ourself; treating ourself and those around us with love, compassion and kindness; doing our bit to enhance the world; lighting it up with our love, our joy, our laughter; sharing our wisdom and skills; bringing more understanding, more beauty, more simple acts of human kindness into the world; expanding ourselves into an ever higher level of consciousness.
Things that we can do wherever we find ourself, whatever we find ourself doing because they’re about our way of being in the world, not related to or constrained by the specifics of what we’re doing in the world.
And what matters more than anything is that we love and accept ourself for who we are.
Accept what we are and what we aren’t. Spend time getting to know ourselves well enough to know the difference; fine-tune our understanding of our personal traits, our strengths and weaknesses, our dreams and desires, the path our journey has taken…
And then make peace with that.
Not expend our precious time and energy on trying to be somebody else or measuring ourselves against something – a job, a person, a standard, a vocation, a scale – that was never meant for us.
We are all unique individuals and within each of us is the seed of what we came to this Earth to do, who we came here to be. It’s inherent in our gifts, our abilities, our passions, our personal qualities and our natural inclination towards one thing over another. It’s heard in the whispers of our soul calling us towards that which makes our heart rejoice, showing us the path back to our truest and most authentic expression of ourself.
When it comes down to it all that really matters, the only way we’re ever going to be able to know personal fulfilment and joy, is by aligning with this essence of who we are – recognising our own particular brand of brilliance; spending our time and energy on exploring, expanding, honouring that.
And how can we honour our own brand of brilliance if we’re running around trying to be somebody else?
If we’re caught up in regretting the things we’re not?
Embrace who you are.
Let go of the notions of who you think you should be, how you think you should be living your life…
Stop comparing yourself to others and listing all the ways you think you’re not enough…
Explore, instead, the truth of who you really are: what you – the unique being that you are – came here to be.
Celebrate everything that makes you uniquely, beautifully, brilliantly, singularly yourself.
Make incarnate in human form the brilliance that only you can be.
The brilliance that springs forth from your soul.
The brilliance that is written into your every cell; that is so much a part of you that you may not even be aware of the radiance of its light.
Offer this brilliance to the world through your authentic and fullest expression of yourself.
The Source consciousness that is the origin of all life has chosen to embody an aspect of itself through and in you.
Trust in this, and know with a certainty that you are brilliant in your very own and very special way.
The Universe does not make mistakes. It has made itself manifest through the particular combination of form (body) and spirit (soul) that I am, that you are.
I was born to be brilliantly, beautifully me.
You were born to be brilliantly, beautifully you.
Let’s honour the innate brilliance that we are by honouring ourselves; our gifts, our quirks, our qualities, our creative impulses – everything that makes me uniquely me; makes you uniquely you.
In honouring ourself and the unique conjoining of form and spirit that is only brought into being in and through us we step up into who we are, embody the highest expression of our truth. This is who we came here to be. The energy of our soul becomes the energy that infuses and permeates everything we do, and it’s in this that the unfurling of our own brilliance transpires as our soul’s transcendence is made manifest in our physical lives.
Let this be the brilliance we offer to the world.
Ourself as a vessel for the luminosity of spirit to be made incarnate.
(I wrote this, for the most part, a couple of weeks ago now but it can take me a while to finish my often lengthy posts and I feel this one is always of relevance).
I had great plans for Monday morning, the first morning of a fresh new week.
I was going to get up with the alarm, do my morning practices and attack the day with zest.
I was going to do the washing, walk my dog, do the last little bits to prepare for my afternoon classes, sterilise some jars, make a phone call, answer the mails in my inbox, get behind the pottery wheel and create.
After that, if time allowed, I was even thinking I could get a start on cleaning my house and/or work on a half-finished blog post, depending on in which direction my mood led me.
All before eating a late lunch and heading out for my afternoon classes at three.
Looking at it on paper like this, it sounds entirely possible. Or the first half at least.
But plans on paper don’t take into account the ebb and flow of energy.
I woke up on Monday tired, with a latent tension in my shoulders that spoke of the need for rest.
Even the day was gray; not a day for doing the washing – giving me an excuse for that one at least.
This compulsion of mine to make excuses for myself and my lack – in this case of activity – is significant, worth taking a few moments to delve into.
I have made huge strides in the areas of self-love and self-acceptance in the last couple of years. But my need to make the excuse reveals a part of me that is still striving to prove itself worthy through ‘doings’ – specifically, the amount that gets done; rather than allowing me to just be, accepting myself, however I may be, in each passing moment. Essentially it’s showing me where I need to heal, what still needs to be surrendered to wholeness.
But coming back to Monday… I don’t often neglect my morning practices. And I did manage to sterilise the jars… It goes without saying that I walked my dog; and I also cleaned her ears and slathered her in the aloe gel I’m using to combat her ear and skin problems and, of course, I got everything ready for my classes. Then I treated myself to an hour or so writing.
But all of that was after I’d stayed in bed way past my alarm and spent a couple of hours easing myself into the morning very, very gently… doing quite a good job of doing nothing really – zoning out on the sofa; eating breakfast; checking Facebook; a few gentle stretches… And on a weekday, a Monday no less – the day I had planned to get myself off on a good footing for the week ahead.
In the not too distant past I would have beaten myself up for this, spent the morning feeling guilty for all that I wasn’t getting done, making myself feel worse in the process.
But I’ve wised up to the self-destruction inherent in this. We encounter enough people who make us wrong during the course of a lifetime, without inflicting the same pain and guilt-ridden shame on ourselves.
As our body, mind and spirit are intricately intertwined – an integral whole, the words we speak to ourselves and the narratives with which we fill our heads literally determine our state of well-being. if we want to be healthy, happy and whole, we need to start loving and accepting ourselves as we are; not beating ourselves up for not being somebody else or some way else – in this particular case somebody more efficient, better at getting things done, and more successful at staying in alignment with their proposed goals for the day.
I have intoned these and other harsh words of criticism to myself more times than I care to count, their abrasive edges violating the sanctity of self. While the tendency to self-condemn is not yet extinct I now see it for what it is – a defunct narrative that doesn’t deserve to take up any time or space in my head. When I catch it knocking on my door, I make the conscious choice to send it on its way and to administer a dose of self-compassion instead. This, I have discovered, is what learning ‘self-love’ is all about.
A big part of it for me has been learning a new lexicon – one that is centered around building me up, not tearing me down. I am choosing not to negate but to uphold and uplift; to be easier on myself, kinder. To honor the person who I am with my limitations and to embrace the wholeness of me – that which I still want to label ‘bad’ as well as that which I can more easily embrace as ‘good.’
So on Monday morning I didn’t pay any attention to my to-do list. I declined to play the game that says there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it in. The one that has us obeying the clock, contorting ourselves like acrobatic circus performers trying to juggle too many balls at once; subjugating our body wisdom, the call of our hearts, the longings of our souls to the demands of All The Things That Need To Be Done.
I have played that game way too many times in way too many ways, and now, at last, it is me that is Done.
I chose instead to honor my body and its tiredness; to listen to its wisdom; to respond, lovingly, like a mother answering the call of her child, to its whispered plea for time and a place to rest.
(Not that I’m denying that there was still that part of me that questioned why I should feel so tired, what had my days done to warrant it; searching for reasons… never satisfied…)
Be that as it may, I acknowledged the truth of the moment: Whatever the reasons for it, ‘justifiable’ to my mind or not, the overwhelming feeling of tiredness was the fact of my present circumstance.
Ad really, why fight against myself?
What more futile resistance than that?
So I allowed myself to take the morning slowly; to stay in bed an hour past my alarm. I didn’t succumb to the notion that now that I’d got up late I had to rush through my day to get everything done, but instead allowed myself to be fully present, enjoying my walk with my slow senior dog – noticing the purple clover peeping through the grass; the patterns of the lichen on bark; the butterflies dancing duets in the air to inaudible music… Feeling the joy and release in my spine as I elongated it skywards, matching the trees with their strong, straight trunks.
Breathing in deeply I said a thank you to the Universe in gratitude for all I have; inhaling the expansive possibilities ahead.
And because I was fully present with myself and my world in this way I got to hear the song of the rainwater in the underground gutter; a gurgling that seemed to bubble forth from the belly of the Earth.
And on my return to my house and haven I indulged in a second breakfast; enjoying the smell of the coffee topped with milk, its warm comfort; the sight of my dog sprawled out on the sofa; the time to just sit and be.
A beautiful way to spend a morning indeed. And not an ounce of guilt or shame in sight.
It’s true that it’s made easier by the fact that I live alone. My friends with families find it a lot harder to take this time for themselves, caught up in the demands of others’ schedules as well as their own. But I also think it’s a question of priorities and that on this journey that we are walking together, all carving out our own path, making ourself and our well-being our priority is one of the most important choices we will ever make and the only way we’ll ever be able to carve a path that remains to our liking.
Do you see a tree or a flower sacrificing its own well-being so that another can live? No. Each sinks its roots as deep as it can and reaches up towards the light, concerned only with its own blossoming… and yet from such vital self-absorption is born a joy that is felt by everyone who looks on that flower or tree with eyes and heart that see.
It is the same with us. It is when we honor ourselves by choosing what is right for us not what is right for everybody else that we start to live authentically, to be true to the song of our soul. And it is only when we are in alignment with our soul that we can really blossom, effortlessly touching the people we meet as our joy and authenticity abundantly overflow.
But while this choice to put ourself and our well-being and happiness first may seem a simple one on the surface, it is by no means an easy one to make…
The road that leads us to this deeply transformative choice is usually rocky to say the least – while we may be in a state of constant flux and change, it is not in out nature to choose to change until our present circumstances have become so unbearable that they push us to the edge of a ridge where we can do nothing save admit that where we are and what we have been doing thus far is no longer working; there is nothing for it but to try something else, some new way of being in the world.
And just because we understand this and make the choice, it doesn’t mean that this new way of being comes easily to us at first, or that everyone around us is also going to understand and/or appreciate it. We have to contend with the responses of others to our new aspect, and find a way to balance our own needs and our new commitment to our self with our interactions with those around us in a way that honors all.
People who are used to the ‘old’ us may not get on with this new version of us quite as much; they may see her as selfish, and/or lazy, and/or, depending on who and where they are at in their lives, may even see the change in us and our priorities as the root of all their troubles. It is almost inevitable that certain relationships and circumstances will drop away, and it can be hard to come to terms with this even when we implicitly understand that they are falling away because they are no longer in our highest good.
And of course we have to maintain our vigilance, observing our way of being in the world and catching ourselves when we fall back into old patterns that do not honor who we are; renewing our commitment to our self by making that choice again… and again… and again.
So no, I would never call it an easy choice.
the most important choice we’ll ever make –
This commitment to myself and my wel-lbeing is one that I’ve made, one that I’m making and remaking each and every day. I’m learning the first steps in the prologue, but it’s a dance that I haven’t yet perfected and I often stumble along the way, fall over mid-dance.
I do, however, know that in making this choice I serve not only myself, but also others. I have seen the value in looking after – really listening to, honoring and taking care of – myself first. When I do I am whole and at peace, at one with myself and with my world; and it is when I’m in this place that the people and circumstances I come across in my daily life receive the best of me.
And that is what I want to give.
Some of that peace, that wholeness, that joy in being overflows from my life into theirs and I interact with then with more goodwill, more love, more kindness, more joy; more of my light radiates out from my life into theirs.
And that is what I want to be – light and love, joy and peace, kindness and compassion.
As for Monday, when I rounded the corner towards the end of my walk bringing myself face to face with the river, there in the shadows stood a heron silently watching the world go by.
The heron alone I might not have given a second thought – herons are one of my favorite birds but they are frequent visitors to my river and I often see them paused in stillness, neutral observers of all that is.
But just across from the heron, where the river turns into a bed of stones, was a solitary kite hunkered down on a rock, quietly observing the river flow.
I see kites often, too. Wheeling and circling in the sky above. But this was the first time for my attention to be drawn to one resting on a rock. And in such synchronous timing, too.
“Be still” the wisdom of the birds said to me. “Slow down. Allow your body a time of rest.”
A confirmation from the Universe.
A stamp of approval for the way I was choosing to spend my day – honoring my body and its call for rest rather than subjugating it to the demands of my ego and ambition.
Reminding me that life is less about the quantity of our doing than the quality of our being. That pushing myself to complete my self-made plans within my self-made deadlines may be a good thing sometimes – it’s what enables me to get stuff done after all; but not when it’s at the expense of enjoyment of the process and/or to the detriment of my physical, emotional, mental or spiritual health.
The Universe honoring me honoring my commitment to my self.
I was walking my dog by the river when a white egret that had stood motionless perched on a rock launched itself into the air with a flap of its wings. As my gaze followed the magnificent bird’s trajectory across the vast expanse of blue sky a sudden gust of wind came from nowhere buffeting the egret mid-flight, sending it into a momentary flutter of wings and feet as it fought to recover its momentum and remain airborne.
I was taken with how quickly and gracefully this beautiful bird managed to come back to center and right its course – if I had but blinked or shifted my gaze for a moment its flight path would have seemed an unbroken line across the sky.
Back on course with a minimum of fuss, the egret continued on its way. The path it traced was purposeful and full of conviction – it knew its destination and was headed straight for it. There was no way it was going to let a ‘little thing’ like an adverse air current knock it off course, let alone distract it from its goal.
I admired its purposeful determination all the more because it’s something that can, at times, seem lacking in my own life.
It’s not that I don’t have a overriding ’flight plan.’ Embracing the idea of myself as conscious creator of my own life I have decided that this year, besides teaching, my focuses are to write, to pot, and to continue to expand and evolve.
So the trajectory of my path, in my mind at least, is clearly mapped out and defined.
And yet… I often find myself knocked off centre and blown off course, going in directions that are so far from being connected to my flight plan that they don’t even show up on the map.
And what does it take to knock me so far off course? A simple ‘gust of wind.”
I’m not even talking about the big ones like doctor’s diagnoses, unemployment notices, relationship breakups, deaths of loved ones and other such unpredictable events that blow into our lives to change their course.
Ninety-nine per cent of the time the ‘gusts’ of wind that pull me off centre are nothing more than the paraphernalia of daily life – meals that need to be cooked; phone calls that need to be made; classes that take too long to be prepared; an unexpected encounter with a neighbour while walking my dog that turns a ‘short walk’ into a two hour break from my day. Lunches with friends; a trip to the post office; a function here and there; obligations that feel like they need to be met. Conversations I let linger a little too long; mails and short mails waiting for me to respond; a ‘quick look’ on Facebook that takes up the best part of an hour; the myriad host of other unanticipated things that creep into my day…
I know that these things, although they can feel like interruptions – especially when too many of them come at once – are the things that make up a life.
I know that they are part and parcel of my trajectory even though they aren’t written into my flight plan – are, in fact, ‘my path.’
I know that I want to be fully present with the people and situations around me; and that at times that will mean putting aside my own flight plan so that I can give my full attention to what is happening right here, right now.
But sometimes it feels like the ‘distractions’ take over the day. I find myself spending more time on them than on the things I have decided are important to me; committed to put my focus on.
And once I’ve been distracted away from my flight plan I find it hard to get back on course. Before I know it yet another day has gotten away from me… with zero time spent at the pottery wheel or weaving threads of thought into meaningful sentences.
As to the third element of my year’s flight plan – my desire to expand and evolve – I’m of the opinion that these are things that will occur anyway, regardless of whether I try to make them happen or not. Doesn’t everything we encounter in our life present us with the opportunity to grow, evolve and expand; including the daily paraphernalia? So with regards to this destination at least, I’m content to set my intention to expand and evolve in the ways that are for my greatest and highest good and leave it in the hands of my higher self to guide the process.
But the pottery and the writing are a bit different. They are not an inevitable part of life that will naturally occur whether I put my attention on them or not.
The only way they are going to happen is if I make them happen.
And in order to do that I need to stop being quite so flimsily moored, letting myself being carried hither and thither on whatever air currents happen to be blowing my way.
Instead of letting the day and the situations that arise in it control me and my use of time, I’d like to be able to stamp my mark on the day so that I can successfully carve my own flight path through it – one that feels true to me and is in alignment with my destination.
I wonder if this is part of the problem – could it be that I don’t have a detailed enough picture in my mind of my destination? That I don’t quite believe enough in my ability to get there? And that without this ‘homing device’ it is harder for me to bring my words and actions into alignment with it?
It’s also true that although I have a relatively good idea of my overall flight path, I haven’t really been mapping out the points along the way. I’m not in the habit of setting myself concrete goals for each day. It’s more like I decide that tomorrow I’m going to take the day and focus on pottery, and of course I have an idea in mind of what it is I want to make. But as to how many of those I’m going to have made and by what time, that I leave up to fate…
And of course when you don’t have clear coordinates for your day, it’s far easier for the things that come up to take over and distract you from your purpose.
The creative part of myself protests at the idea of strict scheduling and goals, along the lines of a blog post written by lunch time and five cups made before afternoon classes. It knows that creative projects take the time they do and you can’t rush them, you need to allow them the time they take. (All the more so when you’re still very much in the process of learning, as I happen to be).
But it feels like there is a need for me to have greater self-discipline and to consistently carve out the time in the day for me to do these things I have committed to put my focus on.
(While at the same time being mindful to watch for the ego playing its tricks and mind games… trying to tell me that these are things I have to do, to turn them from a joy into a chore…).
It feels like it’s a case of turning off the computer and phone when I sit down to pot or write. Limiting distractions outside of myself; refusing to give them the power to control and dictate my time by not letting them into my sacred space. And, in so doing, taking back my sovereignty over my day.
Not to mention the need to get the better of my self-sabotage tactics – learning to see through the distractions I create for myself and mastering them, instead of letting them master me…
Another part of it is learning how to say no graciously to the things that I know in my heart aren’t in alignment with what I really want to be doing – the things that feel like they’re pulling me away from my mapped out route, delaying my arrival at my destination.
And even this idea of there being a destination that I need to get to, when I get too caught up in that that doesn’t serve me either. It makes me separate from where I want to be, and bleeds the joy out of the doing in its focus on outcome not process.
I believe what the sages say – that the key to happiness and fulfillment is found in our state of being, not in our achievements, or even in the things that we spend our days doing.
When I succeed in protecting my time in this way and use it in alignment with my goals, that in and of itself feels good. It’s a joyful quality of being that arises because I’m being true to myself. When I’m in that place the joy is in the process, and how much I manage to quantitatively achieve takes on less importance.
As long as I am making my promise to myself my priority, I am content to accept that sometimes the words and the pots will flow, and at other times they will stumble over themselves and slow to a trickle – I am content to let them take the time they will.
What matters is that I’m honouring my commitment to myself, using my time in the way I have promised myself I will.
When I do this, I’m in alignment with my deepest, most sacred self.
And it is this that feels good.
It is when we don’t do the things we have promised ourselves we will – letting ourselves be knocked off centre and pulled off course – that we fall out of alignment with our truth, and the feelings of being disjointed and separated from self arise.
So as I watched the egret counteract the wind and right its course in a moment, I knew that this is how I want to be in the world. To model myself on this beautiful white bird, bringing myself back to centre quickly and easily whatever gusts of wind may blow themselves into my day; with a clear picture of my destination in mind, so that my footprints trace a trajectory straight for it; streamlined and focused, offering no resistance – external or internal – to my chosen route.
When I can do this I’m at peace, embodying the grace and the conviction of this magnificent white bird, as the silence within the depths of my being tells me I’m right on course.