The Contrast

Photo by Philippe Leone on Unsplash

It is the twenty-eighth day of December. Enough days to be removed from the maelstrom of the holidays and plenty before the resolutions and goal planning of the New Year. I am sitting on a chair, next to a fire burning in our wood stove with my feet up, and it is the first real relaxation I have had since June. I am honestly not sure what to do with myself.

As a full-time metalsmith, the busiest time of each year has just come to a close. Yet for some reason, this year and quite unexpectedly so, the busy season started in July and did not let up until December twenty-first when I closed my online shop until the new year. What usually is two months was six and to say I am tired in every sense would be, well, accurate. In the past few days, I’ve slept twelve hours a night and a nap in between. I ask myself why I don’t feel like going for a run in the new, beautiful running clothes my husband gifted me for Christmas and it comes down to exhaustion. We need to fill our cup before we can pour from it.

I know I am not alone in this. This year was exhausting for most in some sense. The world-changing events of this year, long overdue for some (anti-racist work), shocking and confusing for others (COVID), would leave anyone ready to lay down on the sofa for an extended period of time. Whether you had a schedule similar to mine in which you worked or thought about work more than fifty hours a week consistently for several months or the opposite of this with no work to do and more time than you thought existed for several months – there was contrast for everyone.

What did our lives look like before March? Does anyone even remember? My daughters and I were watching a movie the other night with a football stadium scene in which no one was wearing a mask. Because the movie was filmed fifteen years ago. When my eldest commented on how no one had a mask on, we all agreed that it was the first thing we noticed. How has this year changed us? There are some ways that are obvious, such as in our actions with mask-wearing and working from home. But what about all of the little nuances that maybe we aren’t aware of yet? One example of this is that I really enjoy my alone time, but maybe I enjoy it more now than is good for me. I always feel better after an interaction with friends, but I am more quickly depleted when in a small group of people than I was before. Will it take social weight-lifting, so to speak, to return to my pre-Covid extrovert fitness level?

A gift, I believe, hidden in all of this is the contrast. For most of us, our lives look very different than they did this time last year. And the gift in that is that it broke us out of the schedules and routines we possibly held for years and the chance to ask – do I want to go back to the ‘life before’? Maybe some parts, yes – consistent work, leaving the house, social interaction, hugging. Yes and yes and yes. But the details of our daily lives that we knew for so long that we realized maybe we don’t love? Do you want to go back to waking, looking at your phone/watching the news, getting ready for work and leaving the house? Or did you take a break from that one day last March and realize it is much better to make a cup of coffee and sit and look out the window still in your pajamas without the outside world coming in before you can take your first breath? Or the opposite, similar to my situation – did your work ramp up to the point that it left you tired most of the time and when you used to be drinking a cup of coffee, you were already in your second hour of work? Either way, this year left us questioning if this was what we wanted to continue to create into the future.

This contrast on life gave us a chance to take stock. Even if it was a temporary shift in our lives, it served as a splash of cold water on our faces. Do you want to look for a new job in the field in which you were furloughed? Or do you want to change gears and focus on that novel you started to write in your spare time? Even if you do go back to that same previous line of work, your love of writing was rekindled and a small flame that was inside of you was fanned, thanks to the contrast.

As this year comes to a close, what do you want to take with you? What do you want to leave behind? Sit down with a notebook and take stock. What excites you about opportunities that you weren’t aware of or didn’t entertain that now present themselves and seem possible? What do you want to create? It has always been up to us but now that is more evident than ever.

The hardships this year were plenty, but I would argue there was beauty hidden within – they showed us we could survive. The hardships created a crevasse that the light could shine through, that could illuminate the contrast of what was and what could be. My hope is that we are all brave enough to look.

Nothing Can Be Lost

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For those that feel anxious during this time of rapid change

Let go of what you hold on to
It is all in the comfort of the mind and what you are familiar with
but has served its purpose

This is a time of exploration
of finding truth
outside of what has already been in creation.

Everything that you see is a product
of someone else’s mind.
It is time to see your life outside of that creation.
As it stands on its own.

What is true for you?

There is no need to worry or contract

Everything you have done to this point has led you here
and it is time to flow into the next phase of life

It is okay to let go.
Nothing can be lost
for energy cannot be created or destroyed.

You are held.
You are safe.
You are loved.

 

 

The Welcoming Prayer

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Gently become aware of your body and your interior state.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment

because I know it is for my healing.

I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions

persons, situations and conditions.

I let go of my desire for security.

I let go of my desire for approval.

I let go of my desire for control.

I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God and the healing action and grace within.

  • Mary Mrozowski

You are not Separate

cropped-img_70081.jpgYou were never alone,
never separate from this life that runs through your veins.

There is nothing to worry about.

Do not look around you, instead look within.

You are not losing control, come to the truth that you never had it.  It was a creation of the mind. 

There is no struggle.

There never was.

You are loved.  You always have been.
You are supported.
Even when your mind does its best to separate you,
you are being carried in every moment.

Do not be anxious
for you are living the life that is meant to be lived
at this time.

What you fear is not meant to be feared,
it is meant to be faced and released.

Let go Let go Let go

Trust in the process of it all.

You are always loved

You are always carried.

 

It is Infinite

IMG_2396You may find yourself asking the question, 

those with time that seems to have opened up

What am I supposed to do now?

Breathe into life
Know you are loved
and supported.

It is not for us to know
what tomorrow brings.
It is for us to be in this body
in our daily life
moment to moment.

Feel led by what feels good
Take action in joy.

The wind blows
and your emotions and thoughts
flow with it.
You observe all of it.
None of it is you.
You are the energy that observes it.

Do not feel alone.
You are always held
always loved.

Though no one may be sitting next to you
the love you are made of is enough.
It is enough for you and those around you.
It is infinite.

The World is Waiting

I have this theory that there currently is a “waiting” running through life. Maybe it always has been there, but now more than ever, I feel it. I think it’s one of the reasons people check social media, check their text messages, check their email frequently, check their phones  – they are waiting for news from someone out in the ether about the thing they really want to do.  I know it doesn’t make sense, and maybe you don’t even realize it, but what if you were to pick up your phone to hear the following phone call:
 
– Hi!  I am a publisher and a mutual friend told me about the book you want to write. No, I know you haven’t written it yet, but I am here telling you I am ready to publish it when you do.  When you can you have a first draft finished?
– Hi there, I hear you have the potential to be a great public speaker. Will you give a talk at my next professional conference for 500 of my coworkers?  Name your price.
– Hello, this is State University. I heard you’d like to get your degree and I am just calling to say you’re in. Can you enroll next semester?  It’s paid for, by the way.
– Hi, I really need design help for my house and I’ve heard your house is awesome. It’s fine you’ve never designed anyone else’s house before, I just really want you to come exercise your creative reign all over my home.
– Hi, do you want to quit your job? Because I have heard you’re an awesome mountain climber and us at Patagonia want to sponser you. We know you’ve only climbed at Hoosier Heights, but you’re who we are looking for.
 
Get any butterflies in your stomach on any of those? Hold on to that feeling, that excitement.  Maybe if we stop waiting for the call to ask us to do it and instead, just do the thing we want to do with that excitement, that call will actually come one day.  And if it doesn’t, then you had an amazing feeling creating/speaking/writing, regardless of the outcome.  
So consider this your text, your email, the call.  I am asking you today – go create the thing, do the activity, write the book.  The world is waiting for your gifts.

A Life Divided

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It must be the first day of hunting season.  I’m sitting in my kitchen, drinking my morning coffee and I hear a gun shot – one very loud one.  The hunting kind.  Not the sort of  “I got a new gun and I’m tryin’ her out” kind of shots we occasionally hear.  One single shot.  I wonder if it was our neighbor, Sam.  I wonder if he got a deer.  He aims for one per season – enough to fill his freezer and kindly spare a couple of pounds of meat for his neighbors, including us.

Teddy, our Great Pyr, is lying on the kitchen floor when the shot breaks the steady sound of morning crickets and cicadas.  He should be outside with the chickens and cows, but instead he lays on the cool, wood floor inside.  He has the biology of a guardian dog,  but came to us before we had the workings of a farm, so we are his flock – his human livestock.  The shot is enough to wake him and he runs to the door, barking his baritone that is enough to travel the back woods.  I open the door and off he goes, at a pace that surprises me he was asleep only moments before.

We didn’t hear gun shots when we lived in town.  We moved here and plenty changed, yet we still have traces of life in town inside of us.  I heard a woman say, regarding a man close to me, “he has one foot in heaven and one on Earth.”  I’d never heard anything that sounded so true.  A life divided.  Life on a farm, slightly removed from town but close enough to see the new, made-for-the-masses line of couture at Target.   One moment, I am barefoot in the garden or gutting a chicken, the next I am typing on my laptop.   These two lives can work together, it’s just trying to decide how the percentages split.

The humans on this farm, split between caring for the land and growing food and a grocery store that has it all waiting for us.  Our dogs, biologically-wired to protect others outside, yet have known the comfort of a cool floor indoors.   Our lives in this modern society, in the part of the world I live, are easy.  Boxes delivered to our front door the next day.  Groceries bagged and ready when we get to the market.  I sometimes wonder what life was like to have the responsibility of survival on one’s shoulders – to not have the choice of either growing my own food or driving to the large building to buy it.

I do know this – the days when I do the work are the days I feel best.  The mornings I get out of bed when it is still dark, my stomach muscles doing their best to convince me that I do not need to sit up from underneath the covers.  And yet, I somehow gather the courage each morning to ignore them, to put my feet on the ground,  to go outside to feed and water the sheep.   Joe takes care of the chickens.  The cool air in our lungs.  The sun making its purple/red appearance over the tree line.  My mind wants to talk me out of this each morning, but once I am outside, a feeling of resilience rises.  The feeling that we are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for and that sometimes the inventions of man are more than we need.

 

What If You Were Met With Love Instead?

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She rides closely to the back of the car and an angry face in the rearview mirror.

He comes downstairs in the morning and is curt and short.

She is angry that service is slow.

The instinct to push back comes first.  Give back what is given to you.  An angry gesture back to the driver, a curt and short reaction, an impatient response.

What if they were met with love instead?

What if instead of increasing the flame, it was diffused?

What if pain was met with love and patience, instead of ego versus ego?  Who is right and who is wrong and who is being treated unfairly and behaving in ways that disrespect who I am.

What if we let all of that go?  It is a burden too heavy to carry.

What if we met the pain that exists in the world with breath?  With patience and kindness and an attempt at understanding.  What if that was our default instead?

It is not easy.  It takes practice and patience and a letting-go of what our mind wants.

A practice:

Picture someone.  A person who has caused pain.  A person who holds anger.  A person you encountered in the past week that met you with hostility.  Close your eyes.  Hold that person in your mind’s eye.  Now send them love.  Say it out loud if you can: “I love you.”  Feel your breath.  Feel your heart beat.  Feel the love you are producing for them and for yourself.  A shift.  A release in any anger or resentment you may feel and an energy of love being sent to them.  A new lightness in the place of a heaviness you were not meant to carry.

When we meet others with love in their hostility, it cannot help but to diffuse the flame of anger and lighten the burden of ‘being right’ and ‘being respected’.

We are all made of the same cells, same earth, same energy.  As we send love to others, we cannot help but to be filled with that same love in return – and our Earth can begin to shift to one of peace and love, where there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, just us together in this collective experience of life.

 

 

 

 

 

The Voice in the Quiet

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There are times when my mind is busied, distracted with a mundane task it knows well but still occupies its time (driving, gardening, polishing metal), that another voice inside would speak up. What voice is this? Soul, spirit, the unconscious, angels, a muse? What I do know is it is a voice of counsel, of reassurance – one that seems to be smarter than the everyday mind of problem-solving. It knows there are no real problems. Sometimes I would feel it speaking up, and find a piece of paper to write it down – wanting to remember the wisdom it had to say. The above is one such instance.
We all have this voice. I have it no more than anyone else. No one has it more than another and it can be more easily heard when we stop distracting ourselves with information and breathe instead. Have a moment at a stop light, breathe. Waiting for the water to boil, breathe. Have a thought that makes you uncomfortable and feel the pull to pick up your phone, breathe. Breathe into the silence and the voice inside, wherever it comes from, will begin to grow clearer. And your own innate wisdom will come through with a resounding and clear voice to guide you on your path.

We can choose to feel the hardship of our challenging time, or we can reconnect to the ground beneath our feet that lovingly supports each step.

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