Thanks-full Thursday

Firstly, I am thankful for inspiration from other bloggers from the Glitterhood for “Wordless Wednesdays” and “Thankful Tuesdays” (I’m shifting thankfulness to the other “T” day, liking the assonance of the two Th’s).  Like “Six Word Saturday” on the Small Stones forum, these daily designations are opportunities to post blessedly brief posts, and incentive to post weekly.  After writing so many long, and mostly lavishly illustrated, posts this blogalong month, brevity is a true blessing–for this blogger, and likely for any followers I may have acquired!

Yesterday's sunset.  Today's sky was too thickly gray with rainclouds to color up.  I'm hoping they will water my gardens as I sleep!

Tuesday’s sunset. Wednesday and Thursday the sky was too thickly gray with rainclouds to color up. Finally, abundant rain!

Today I am deeply thankful for RAIN!  In this low desert, summer “monsoon” rains bring life-giving water to all who live here, and wonderful, if brief, coolness.  The rains’ capriciousness is sometimes frustrating, often entertaining, as one cloud pours “buckets” over a small area, or a dark wall of rain appears to be moving my way, but no……… And then, on a partly cloudy day it’s my turn for the deluge and the fun of the puddles afterward.  Over the past few days, we’ve gotten enough rain to free me from the task of twice-daily watering of my extensive gardens. Free time!  Coolness!  and that “desert smells like rain” fragrance to the air.  Yes, I am thankful this Thursday.

 

P.S.  I drafted the above last night, so I could post it before going into Tucson this morning (Thursday).  There was no Internet connection this morning, so I’m posting this before bedtime.  My Thursday turned out to be much rainier than hoped for!  Coming home the back way over the Tucson Mountains, I could see a wall of rain over the Sierrita mountains that drain into my valley.  By the time I got to my dirt road, it was a slippery bottomed river, and the wash some of us refer to as the Nile River was flooded to the top of its banks.

I used the time sitting in my car while the rain poured down to write in my newly purchased little journal.  This “small stone” describes my waiting for the flood to abate:

wavery

distorted view

rain on windshield

stranded at flooded wash

muddy river flowing down road

time to walk the mile home?

After waiting several hours for the water to recede, I was able to leave my car on the highway side of the “Nile” and cross on foot at a wide place upstream of our road.  I walked home as night descended.  The crickets are chirping insanely loudly tonight (a cacophony of crickets?!), and a few belated Sonoran desert toads are bleating their strange mating calls in the catchment ponds (most having worn themselves out during their mating frenzy during the first monsoon rain nearly two months ago).

I’m now blessedly dry and fed and ready for my “deep healing sleep”–and thankful for rain, and for an unexpected adventure and unplanned walk in the fresh air.

Blessed Be!

 

Saying what I’m feeling–Blogalong Day 11, & another day post-surgery

“Be who you are and say what you feel,

for those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

~Dr. Suess~

 

Today, Day 11 of the Blogalong and for me Day 3 post-surgery, I’m feeling rather like a freight train ran over me—you know, the one from this cynical rewrite of a Pollyannaish old saw:

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel…

…and it’s a train headed your way!

 

Anyone who has been following my blog knows that I am usually a happy person, or at least hopeful and focusing on positive thoughts.  I have cultivated my good attitude through two intensive years of personal growth work and play, and I take well-deserved pride in having overcome a long lifetime of pessimism and severe depression.  A gifted life coach (Scout Wilkins), along with other teachers, healers, and mentors, guided me to amazing self-transformation, and I am in the process of becoming a coach and teacher/mentor myself.

I’m living a conscious life, and developing programs to offer to others, which means I am practicing and mulling over and sharing what I have learned in the process of self-transformation.  Thus most of my recent blogs have been about how to live a happy life, with digressions into feminist exhortations and pagan musings, and I have enjoyed turning the focus from “me” to “you” at the end of most posts.

Today I’m having trouble cheerleading myself into the frame of mind that I want.  I wrote in my Gratitude Journal this morning, listing nine things I am grateful for since Thursday (Surgery Day), but I found it difficult to feel the emotion of gratefulness, because the acute pain is rather fierce (and I’m stubbornly avoiding the prescribed narcotic and trying to minimize liver damage from Tylenol).

I hurt.

But I’m not having a meltdown into wailing, or hyperventilating over certain self-care procedures, like I did yesterday.  I am becoming inured to the appearance of the wounds that I must cleanse and dress, and my bowels are almost functioning normally as the narcotics leave my system.  I slept fairly well last night—or wonderfully well compared with the night in hospital!

OK, that last sentence looks more like my usual style of genuine gratitude.  A little “fake it ‘til you make it,” but that’s okay.  Power of positive thought!

 

My mantra for today is one I learned from a wuwu hypnotherapy cassette tape I grew to loathe back in the late ‘80’s during one of my horribly long and dark depression episodes.

Every day in every way

I am feeling better, better, better!

I remembered this long-forgotten mantra while talking w/ the cashier at Trader Joe’s on my way home yesterday. You know how they always ask, “How are you today?”  First I replied, “Better than yesterday!” and then I put my hands into meditation mudras and recited a paraphrase of this quite relevant-if trite-healing mantra.  We laughed, and for that moment I did feel better.  (Laughter is the best medicine!)

Today, I am loving this mantra’s intention.  Evoking belief is not easy while feeling so much acute pain, but I’ll do my best, and celebrate every sign of healing progress.

 

Thank you to everyone who has sent healing energy, intentions, wishes, prayers, blessings!  You moved me to tears when I checked in with blog and forum comments yesterday.  Today I’m especially remembering the woman who commented on my Day 8 post (paraphrased from memory) “Thank you [for the coaching part of that post], but remember to take really gentle care of yourself as you heal.”  I took her directive to heart this morning, and Dr. Seuss’s quote as well, and am focusing on myself and “saying what I feel.”

I hurt.  I really hurt!

 

And I know the healing has begun, and will accelerate day by day.

“Every day in every way I am feeling better, better, better.”

 

I hope that whatever pain you may be feeling, whether physical or emotional, will ease, day by day, or lift in an instant of miraculous transformation.  Please know from my testimony that even the darkest and most hopeless times not only pass but can be transformed into sustainable happiness.  And if you’re a redhead and/or at midlife or beyond, please don’t wait 4 years to see a dermatologist about a “questionable” spot like I did!  I have done the “live and learn” thing on that one, and hope you will avoid the mistake I made.

Sending y’all love, and feeling almost teary to be connected with you through the magical worldwide web.  That makes it easier to deal with the “what is.”  Thank you!

Blessed Be!

SUMMERTIME GRATITUDE CHALLENGE

,Midday, the tenderest plants in my gardens wilt in the desert heat.  And so does the gardener!  As I practice cultivating a happy life in my inner Gratitude Garden, I notice my tendency to get “complainy” when temperatures linger in the teens (typical of our “Dry Summer”) or when sticky sweat doesn’t evaporate on the muggy days after monsoons set in.  What’s a gratitude gardener to do in the face of daily physical misery?  Other than investing in a coal-fired electricity- devouring a/c, that is?  (Not an option: this gardener by definition is dedicated to “living lightly” on Mother Gaia).

My mentors like SARK and my coach Scout Wilkins tell me to “allow” what is, without judgment, and to focus on the things I can be genuinely grateful for.  Pollyanna (remembered very unfondly from childhood) would have me look for the silver lining to the clouds [my old Inner Cynic would reply, “clouds–of steam?”!].

 

Silver--no, Gold linings to these sunset clouds

Silver–no, Gold linings to these sunset clouds!

I now believe Pollyanna may actually have had the right idea: to focus on the positive wherever we can find it.  I still object to her obnoxious, overly cheerful denial of “what is.”  There’s often a blessing, a gift or lesson, in the heavy, hard, or miserable things that life throws at us.  By accepting the unpleasant, we can access the gift.  Then, by diverting our minds to what we can be grateful for in the midst of the misery, we plant the seeds for happiness to return.  Every grateful thought cultivates the soul’s soil to grow more things to be grateful for!

And so, each summer morning as I soak the earth in my permaculture gardens with water from the neighborhood well, I savor the brief blessing of the cool air with its hint of moisture. My garden beds are mulched to hold as much water in place as possible in this low desert where evapotranspiration vastly exceeds precipitation.  My spirit is mulched by the morning’s gratitude practice.  Garden and gardener accept the day’s challenge, wilting midday if we must, then rebounding with the evening’s watering (coconut water for me, yum!) and the return of [relative] coolness.

Sunset colors the virga (rain that evaporated before reaching the thirsty earth)

Sunset colors the virga (rain that evaporated before reaching the thirsty earth)

Lest this sounds too Pollyannaish, and unlikely to work for the harder challenges of life, let me give a testimonial.  Last week I left Trader Joe’s in the early afternoon with a big bag of frozen food, including a quart of my favorite Coffee Blast! ice cream. On my way out of town, my van’s water pump died with quite scary loud banging.  I was able to pull into a parking lot, grateful for that refuge from the extremely busy street and for the small remaining charge on my phone battery.  It took over two hours for the tow driver to show up and get the van to my mechanic on the other end of Tucson.  The repair shop office had a new air “freshener” (which should read “air toxifier”–those chemicals are toxic for anyone, but especially for someone with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities!).  I had to wait outside in my car for over an hour (no a/c cool refuge for me, gotta breathe!) before my best friend got off work and came to retreive me.

I was please to notive that I easily maintained my pleasantness with all involved in my little drama—including with my own mind!  The months of gratitude gardening have borne fruit!  I was able to maintain inner and outer peacefulness in spite of unpleasant physical symptoms from heat and pollution, long waits in challenging locations, a large repair bill, and yes, the completely melted ice cream!  Everyone involved in my story was helpful (even if a bit slow!), and formerly shy me initiated mutually enjoyable conversations where I was able to affirm each person’s abilities and express gratitude for their help.  Interestingly, my recovery from that day’s chemical exposures and stresses was remarkably brief, done by midmorning the next day rather than taking several days as it used to!  I believe gratitude made all the difference. And I believe gratitude is helping me not only be happy “in spite of” my illness, but actually healing it.

 

Rainbow over flowering almond. Without clouds, no rainbows!

Rainbow over flowering almond. Without clouds, no rainbows!

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Would YOU like to become a happier person?  If you would, do you have a regular gratitude practice?  If yes, you want more happiness, but no, you don’t have a gratitude practice to help you, here’s the simple one I use:

Start keeping a gratitude journal:  Each morning when you wake up, take a few minutes to write down five* things you are grateful for in that moment.  Take a few deep breaths and feel into your deep gratitude for these things you have listed….

You can go deeper….  Where in your body do you feel your gratitude at this moment? What color is it?  What does it taste like?What does it sound like?

Yes, even on a morning after too little sleep, feeling headachy or perhaps even “down with the flu” there are things to be grateful for—the stove that is heating the water for your favorite beverage, the reward that whatever task you’ve gotten up to do may bring you, abundant food in the larder, the pillow that awaits your return…. (I have noticed that thoughts such as these help my morning headaches leave more quickly!  Grumping about how bad I felt certainly did not.  Many people are now teaching that what we focus on is what we get more of, and experience has made me a believer.)

If you want to accelerate your progress toward greater happiness, start a complementary celebrations log, listing 5* things you celebrate from your day just before you go to sleep.  This journal is the place to notice evidence of “the magic happening”—desired changes taking place, dreams coming true, little (or big!) miracles….  Feel into this “celebration”—does it make you feel satisfied, joyous, ecstatic, excited … grateful, happy?

*You can change the number five to your own magical number (some coaches suggest three, but I often have trouble stopping with five!).  Feel free to elaborate as inspired with longer journal entries or perhaps some artplay.  My own journal entries have become more colorful over time, which makes me even more happy when I look at them.  (I intend to start adding glitter soon!)

Heart of the flower backlit by the mornng sun

Heart of the flower backlit by the mornng sun

I believe that by doing these simple practices you will one day soon realize you are HAPPY and that your dreams are coming true.

Blessed Be!

ps… Coming soon, the launch of my first e-course, Journey to the Gratitude Garden–Seven Weeks to a Happier Life.  I think it is beautiful!

I’ll give a 50% discount on the course to all who post substantive comments on this blog!

 

August Blogalong #1: Arguing with Proust

…my first blogalong post (Will there really be 29 more?!)  Thank you to Effy for inspiring me to energize my blog!  I’ll post musings relevant to Nature Wisdom Journey here, and others at www.jetanablog.wordpress.com.

Arguing with Proust

or, Who Makes Me Happy?

I love sending (and receiving) cards!  Recently I purchased a Thank You card for my best friends.

IMG_1494

I was in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s and this card’s cheerful flowers attracted my eye, along with the words “gardeners” and “blossom” and the name of the quote’s author. At that moment, the card seemed perfect! These very supportive friends are gardeners, and one of them reads Proust in the original French.  I wanted to thank them, and this looked like a “very nice” (and easy!) way to do so.

But as I was driving home I started thinking about the quote.  And then I started arguing with Proust!  “Wait a minute! I am responsible for my own happiness, not my friends (or lovers or life circumstances).  My true friends support my soul’s blossoming, but they do not make it happen–I do!  I am happy my friends are in my life, and I really enjoy being with them, but they do not make me happy–I do!”

Taking responsibility for my own happiness has led me to actually becoming a happy person for the first time in my life.  I am the “charming gardener” of my own soul!

I’m going to have to do some altered art before sending this card, perhaps using gesso to cover the verbs I disagree with, and/or collaging in words like “support.”  Or better, create a thank-you card for my friends from scratch and alter this card for myself!

 

[Deep gratitude to my life coach, Scout Wilkins, for guiding me to the place where I took responsibility for my own happiness, and showing me how to nurture it with gratitude]

 

 

Great-full for Hard Life Lessons

I’m taking Jani Franck’s wonderful (and affordable) Creative Journaling e-course,  Our second week of the month-long course focuses on gratitude.  The Day 1 exercise was to list 3 people we’re grateful for. Mine grew to so many I was limited only by the size of my journal page!  I’m so grateful for mentors/ guides/ teachers, friends, some of my family, and strangers becoming online friends!  On Day 2 we listed or doodled about 3 possessions (My life is so abundant!).  Day 3’s assignment will likely challenge most of the class, but I’ve done a lot of thinking about this already…and am extemely grateful to be on the other side of this four decades-long “hard life lesson”!

Day 3:  This Hard Life Lesson–What I’ve Learned the Hard Way

It’s not hard for me to choose from the many possibilities of hard life lessons offered by my getting-to-be-quite-long life story (single parenting, Mom’s death too early in our beginning-to-resolve troubled relationship, chemical sensitivities, painful endings of too many relationships, “mistakes”, this loss, that loss, …). Because one huge challenge almost killed me (literally), and at many points I declared it had ruined my life.  [Note passive voice here, yep, that old poor-me victim consciousness!]

“WHAT on Earth?”  you ask.

“Bipolar II,” I answer.  [“The dreaded” modifier implied and understood]

For this assignement, I’m going to do an art page, but I need the newly risen Sun to warm up this cold Winter day so I can set up my paints outdoors.  This journal page will not be one of my signature colorfully cheery kid-marker doodles!  I will do it with the darkest blue watercolor (acrylic being too shiny).  Blue, color of the West and home of the emotions in my Medicine Wheel, dark because depression is “seen” as darkness in western culture.  [Note to self:  memorize name of this color!  2nd note to self:  blog about Wisdom of the Dark.]

I’m imagining jaggedy, disorderly pokes at the page with the end of the largest square tipped brush, overlapping blotches covering a lot of the page, darkest on left side and bottom (representing my “foundation” of depression and my life extending a bit past “mid”life).  Then some words of gratitude diagonal across the upper page, getting happier toward the top right, where I’ll paint the sun.  Maybe I’ll paint the waxing crescent moon top left as well, for balance….and add glimmers of sunlight yellow down into/inside the jaggedy blue, because it was the hypomania that gave me courage to survive the depths.

[Not yet having achieved the artistic expertise to match my emerging identity as an artist, I may or may not post the painting here.  It will for sure be on the course Facebook page where I feel safest to share].

I am grateful to my BiPolar II “disorder” for teaching me that quality of life is a totally subjective thing.  That nothing stays the same forever.  That there is always hope of something better after the hardest times.  That healing IS possible!  That even the most established cycles can be transformed.  That “stability” is not static and boring, but more continuously joyous in a quieter way than hypomania’s unsustainable flights.  That the overall effect of Lithium orotate, Equilib, and Traveling Light Discovery and Breakthrough processes is a marvelous “dynamic equilibrium” that is long-term sustainable with infinite possibilities for further healing on all levels.  That there always IS hope, somewhere, somehow, that it’s okay to ask for and accept (and pay for) it. That choosing life was the right choice after all!

I’m also grateful to BiPolar II for giving me a doctor’s excuse to bail out of the oppressive academic science career world, where I never really fit, for living close to Nature at my own rhythms and inspiration, and for helping me become the strong person I am.  Amazing things are possible when “survivors” become “thrivers”!  I’m also grateful that the experience of this life-threatening illness, and its eventual healing, have given me the ability to become a healer in my “wisdom” years.  Blessed Be!

 

 

Solstice Eve 20.12.2012–Grateful to Be Here Now!

I am Deeply Grateful to Be Alive at this Amazing Time!

Image

[photo by Jesse Coffey of Yule Tree Decorated with Small Birds, copied from Facebook, I think, and used w/out permission–I hope that’s okay, Jesse!]

I love how the main themes of this season’s “cosmic consciousness” (at least in my personal universe!) seem to be “Lighten Up for the New Paradigm,” and “Focus on Gratitude.”  I’m on quite a few “self-help” and “spiritual entrepreneurship” and “holistic healing” mailing lists, as well as enrolled in several self-help programs, and the themes of releasing what no longer serves us, in order to call in what we truly desire for the new year (or New Age), and focusing on gratitude, are predominating the subject matter of my Inbox these days.

Early this year I did “Personal Breakthrough” work with Scout Wilkins, and started a daily gratitude journal at her suggestion.  After a while, I found myself spontaneously thinking grateful thoughts, or asking myself what I’m grateful for during times of mental or physical pain.  I’m currently deep into Scout’s  yearlong group program, Traveling Light, grateful for her guidance for self-transformation and empowerment.  She had us start the year program with a “Toleration Blitz,” which catalyzed my huge, still slow, ongoing decluttering program (using miniscule “kaizen steps” due to my fatigue challenge), and recently led me through a deep process to release Fear.  I believe that this has prepared the way for me to heal from decades of multiple chemical sensitivities (and have already noticed a significant lessening of symptoms from venturing into the city or breathing laundry fragrance from my visitors—yay!  I am grateful, deeply grateful!).  [Check out Scout’s programs and free offerings at www.scoutwilkins.com, and Google and library wordsearch “kaizen” for more info on how to do the apparently impossible beginning with astonishingly tiny steps].

SARK’s Great Life e-Letters have cycled through Time for Gratitude, Time for Forgiveness (a huge lightening up for me), and Time for Miracles these past moons, and I’m currently enjoying her Awesome Anytime Adventures and the online community of her Creativity Clubhouse (www.planetsark.com).  She inspires me to greater playfulness and “succulence” and gives me permission to feel all my feelings (along with techniques to gently release those pesky “negative” feelings and return to happiness).  Clubhouse members are also inspiring, supportive, and generous.  I’m particularly grateful to have met “glitterbomb” Jani Franck there.  I’ll be in her art journaling e-course in January. [http://creativejournaling2013jan.eventbrite.co.uk/ or www.janifranck.com; she has great freebies and other very affordable courses].

This month I’m participating in Amy Czadzeck’s free online program “30 Days to Fill Your Cup,” and really appreciate her gentle cues to nurture myself in a different way each day, and daily queries about my challenges and celebrations.  (You can join any time during the month if you wish, at www.amyleeczadzeck.com).

I have noticed that (along with deep “discovery” and “breakthrough” work, loving self-care, and indulging in playful artistic creativity), returning regularly to an attitude of gratitude has transformed my life.  It’s difficult to believe from my current “happy place,” but a year and a half ago I was struggling out of a year of deep, dysfunctional depression with associated anxiety—a repeating, three decades-long pattern that, along with “environmental illness” and “chronic fatigue,” had forced me into a reclusive life with months spent in my bed.  A special mineral formula developed for bipolar (called Equilib®, available online but prescribed for me by a wonderful holistic psychiatrist), the work I’ve done with my awesome life coach, and the online communities I have joined have given me (as my Okie father used to say) “a new lease on life.”

I have become a happy person—which I had not been for 30 years except for too brief (and rather crazy) “hypomanic” intervals!  Regularly reminding myself to focus on what I am grateful for has been an easy and effective practice for my healing journey (which also benefits from spiritual practice and ceremony, good nutrition, permaculture gardening, journaling, collage and beadcrafting and “playing art.”

Yesterday, during our regular group coaching call, Scout went deep into her wisdom place and channeled some amazing insights about the 12.21.12 “portal.”  She (THEY?!) declared that we are in a ten-day window of opportunity for transformation, with the peak of the energy on the Solstice, and that Gratitude is the way through into the new paradigm.  Scout led us in Tapping on Gratitude–EFT without a setup of “Even though…,” just rounds of “I’m so grateful”, then rounds of “I’m so grateful for my teachers, all my teachers” or other general statement that my mind filled in the specifics around.  Twenty minutes and some heartfelt tears later, we were soaring.  Or at least Scout and the other student were.  When asked, I confessed that I felt really tired, so I was not ecstatic like they were, but I was grateful my cozy bed was waiting for me (mid-afternoon).  Scout reassured me that it was totally okay to be grateful relative to my capacity in the moment.

People, we aren’t expected to “live up to our potential” because that’s a goal always out of reach (which leads to our Inner Critic beating us up); rather we may express or do what we are actually capable of in any given moment, whether it’s being grateful or loving, giving, creative, productive, etc.).  We ended the call and I went outside to go to my bed in the other trailer, but after a few deep breaths of cool fresh air I decided to finish transplanting seedlings into my garden, a task that I hadn’t finished the day before.  Amazingly, I got ALL my starts into the ground under the auspicious waxing Pisces moon, and had a lovely simple supper with a movie and some time on Facebook before climbing into my bed after delicious deep breaths of frosty air and a short moonbath.  It appears that by deeply honoring yesterday mid-afternoon’s “small” capacity as being okay, it expanded amazingly!

This Solstice Eve morning, I journaled using Kristi Shmyr’s Last Year Ever Review   (from her Goal Ninja newsletter).  She took a unique approach to the question of what 12.21.12 means, and suggested we act as if the world will end on Friday, and directed us to look back at what positive impacts we have had on other people (etc.) during our lifetime.  [You can find Kristi through www.goalninjas.com].  My Last Year Ever Review left me deeply grateful for the cumulative positive impacts I have had in the world.  In spite of so many “lost” and “self-involved” years of depression and dysfunction, small kindnesses and charities have truely “added up” over the course of the forty years of my “adult” life!

While appreciating this retro-perspective, I did find myself frustrated by the exercise’s “world ends tomorrow” assumption, because I am so deeply motivated to “get my message out” and “womanifest my vision” via Nature Widsom Journey, the business I am gestating and intend to launch—on the other side of the 12.21.12 portal into amazing 2013.  Thankfully, I agree with the sensible majority of new agers (including Kristi), who seem to agree that, yes, “the times they are a’changin’,” with something really amazing happening around this year’s Winter solstice.  I’m “pretty darn sure” (quoting Dad again) I’ll have the opportunity to wo-manifest in the “new” year (or “New Age”!) what has been so amazingly catalyzed in this one.  (Blessed Be!)

 

[Imagine a cool doodle of fairy lights, or holly swags, or cute little birds on a tree branch across the page here–or at least my current level of doodling, abstract curlycues and spirals….  and send me the power of believing I will actually learn to post my own art on my blogposts in the New Year!]

…Oops, once again I have blogged beyond most readers’ attention spans–too many words and not enough pictures!  Time to cease and desist, even though there are more synchronicities to comment on, more awesome thought leaders to cite and recommend, more more more things to express my gratitude for!  I’m going to eat my well-cooked porridge, which has thickened into a dried-fruit filled “figgy pudding” as “breakfast time” is approaching the noon hour.  My appetite is “keen” and the sun has risen high enough for me to dine “al fresco,” grateful for the freedom to write for hours whenever I wish, and to be living in this beautiful Sonoran desert where winter days are warm and garden greens and wildflowers grow and “snowbirds” sit in glorious sunshine, and to be “here now” in the 2012 Portal with the GRATITUDE that will take me through into a beautiful future.

May your life be so blessed this season!