The Contrast

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.

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An older woman once told me to pay attention to the moments of my life

that I would miss this one day

then I worried myself with the paying of attention and what did I not pay attention to in the past and what would I miss in the future

so instead, I let go of all of it

I stood by the oak tree
heard the starling sing
let the bee rest on my hand

and then I was like them,
being a part of everything
and no thoughts of any of it.

#soul #soulscalling #connection #present #livingpresent #meditation

Let Go

 

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Let go of what you hold on to so tightly,
this tightrope of control you walk
when the ground below is there
to love and support you.

Let go.

Let go of what you hold on to –
the reasons conjured that give you
the false idea of safety.

Take a deep breath.

Breathe into life.
Know you are
loved and supported.

It is not for us to know
what tomorrow brings.
It is for us to find joy
in the moments of our life.

Feel led by what feels good.
Take action in joy.

The fears your mind creates
do no support you.
Let them go
and let the peace and love deep within

{that those fears suffocated}

carry you towards your freedom.

Living Without Expectation

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There is the five year plan, the ten year plan.  It is all well to plan if we find joy in it, but what if we did so without expectation?  What if we lived altogether without expectation?  What does that look like?  

It means joy in the action-taking, not in the preconceived idea of the outcome.  It means doing work that has joy in the doing, not in the outcome of the work once done.  It means creating truly from our souls without thought of who else will like it, who may judge it, or how many ‘likes’ it may receive.

The sculptor who sculpts in joy, the painter who paints in joy, the artist who creates in joy, will not quit the activity if they are dissatisfied with their piece when it is finished because the point of creating was the joy of creation, not in the object created.

If we run to lose weight, if we only work for money, if we only garden for the blossomed flower, then we will not stay with it, unless we ultimately find joy in the doing. 

What is an expectation of success to you?  Is it money or affluence?  Is it power?  Is it freedom?

Or what if the idea of “success” did not exist at all?

What if we had no idea of success as an outcome, but as a doing in joy and in love?  If we live through our hearts, this is possible.  If we live through our minds, there is always a problem to solve, a finished project to accomplish, a waiting of something to improve the present, for that is its job.  If there was no issue, no future goal envisioned or to obtain, then it knows no purpose for its survival.  

But if we live from our heart.  What does it look like to live from our heart? 

It looks like the runner running because they love the action and feel of their legs moving, their heart beating.

It looks like the caregiver loving their patient while taking their blood pressure.

It looks like the chef creating a dish for the love of nourishment and flavor and tasting sensations.

It looks like the parent loving watching their child play the sport they love, win or lose, college scholarship or one year of playing and finished.  No expectation.

Several minds are now saying, does that mean we do nothing that sounds like something we do not want to do?  Does that mean we only do things that always bring us joy?

This is a problem of the mind.  There is always joy in the present moment if we allow our minds to stop pushing us into the a different place than we are right now.  It could also be a conditioned thought that we must do work we do not find joy in to attain what we need.  Or that the activities we find joy in can not sustain us.  These are all false beliefs that our mind loves to hold on to.

When work is done solely through the mind, for an achievement or an imagined date of  ‘success’, it is all done for the receiving of love, of acceptance, of approval.

But when we live through our hearts, our mind has already received all of the love and acceptance and approval it will ever need.  And it is free to live in the experience of joy in doing, not in a future imagined date of accomplishment.

An Opening for Something New to Be Born

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When faced with a time that is full of change – a time of shift and rotation and unexpected turns of events – life can seem to have almost taken over and put us on a course that has taken us by surprise.  Change is a certainty, but we sometimes cannot prepare ourselves for what it is and how quickly it can occur.

Some words for souls going through this shift.

There is no need to worry.  For those of you who have space where there used to be none – a child growing and needing less, a career or relationship that is taking less time than it once did or coming to a close, a sudden or unexpected opening – take this, dear one,  as a time of rest.  Life is making room for growth. There is peace in this space if we choose it.  There is joy within and in the space you are currently residing, incubating the next phase of life that will find its way to you.

This is not a time of loss.  The love and energy that was there still is and will manifest itself to you in another form, for energy cannot be destroyed.  It is all available to you right now if we are open to the other forms it can take.  We choose whether to worry and block ourselves from the love and blessings that are preparing to flow in in other forms when we attempt to hold on to life the way it was.  What lived has run its course and is transitioning to something else.  Let it go.  Make room.  Beauty and love flow in in other forms.  Relax and accept.  Accept what is, accept yourself, accept your beautiful and honored place in the Universe.

Feel your breath.  Feel your heart beating.

See how they work for you without thinking, without effort.  They both continuously work for you, from the life force that continues to flow through you.  Know that goodness and love and joy will flow to you in this open space as though its your breath, as though it is the blood flowing to your fingers and toes.

Do not see lack or scarcity.  It is an illusion of the mind and not true.  Thank your mind for its effort in trying to solve the problem of its creation.  That it can rest.  All is well.

There is beauty in this space.  It is all for your highest good.  Allow the flow of life to carry you to this present moment, the love that resides there always, and the fullness of what is to come.

 

Golden God Nectar, or How to Make Chicken Bone Broth

I remember living on Indiana Avenue my sophomore year at Indiana University.  It was one of those sweet, little off-campus houses with a kitchen mostly used for holding cereal boxes and milk and reheating take-out Indian food.  I shared it with three other girls, and while we had a lot of fun together, sous chefs we were not.

That spring, I came down with the most awful cold.  I still remember it.  It was one of those colds that you begged your roommate to take a note to your Accounting professor because you were too ill to go to class on a day you knew you had to be there.  And it was also the days of no email and running to the computer lab at 11:45pm to print your paper before they closed at midnight, but whatever.  Go-ahead and bask in your Inkjet at home while I date myself over here.

Back to the story – I had a cold.  And one of my sweet roommates generously offered to make a bowl of chicken noodle soup for me.  Which is to say, she opened a can, plopped it into a bowl, pushed a few buttons, and brought it to me in bed.  To say I was thrilled is an understatement, because anyone loves being taken care of when they are sick.  But now, after all these years, I truly understand the “chicken noodle soup while sick” situation.

The broth.

It is so chockfull of vitamins and minerals- so much goodness.  It is good for joints, for your immune system, for your gut.  Homemade bone broth is truly the golden nectar of the Gods.  And once you have soup made with it, the stuff in the can or in the box at the grocery store pales in comparison.  I will sometimes have a hot cup of broth in the mornings, especially during the winter, if a scratchy throat presents itself.

So, here is my recipe for homemade chicken bone broth.

You will need:

-1 chicken carcass – I leave the neck attached, but if your is separated, go ahead and put that in the mix as well.
– any vegetables you want to throw in – I like to use carrots, celery, and onions.  No need to peel anything.  Simply wash and toss in.  All of those outer layers have goodness, too.
– garlic, about 4- 6 cloves
– chicken feet – not necessary, but a great addition.  If you buy your chicken from a local farmer, or go to a farmer’s market, there is a good chance they will have feet to sell you.
– herbs of choice – I usually just add thyme
– a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar.  This aids in pulling the goodness out of the bones.
– filtered water

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Optional first step – If you do use chicken feet, they need to be prepped.   Our hens are free range, which means their feet get gross. The best option is to remove the skin.  So, we do a quick ten minute simmer on the stove to clean them and and loosen the skin so it can be peeled.  Place your chicken feet in a small pot on the stove, bring to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes.  During this time, get a bowl of ice water ready.  At the ten minute mark, remove the feet and blanch them in the cold water.  Then, once cooled, peel the skin.  It should come off fairly easily.  Below, another pic of feet now peeled and vegetables ready to go into the pot.

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I know, the feet…gross, right?  But it’s SO good.

Now, we put all of it in a large stockpot or 6-qt slow cooker.  I prefer the slow cooker – this way, you can put everything in at night after you eat, set it on low, and let it go for the 24 hours it should have for maximum bone broth goodness.

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Now fill the pot roughly two inches below the top with water, put the lid on, turn on to low, and let go until the next evening.  Note:  Make sure to fill the pot as much as you can.  As the cooking progresses, some of the water will evaporate, so you want to make sure you have as much as possible in the pot.

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And that’s it until 24 hours later.

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Pull out a large bowl and scoop out the large pieces of veggies with tongs and a slotted spoon for small pieces.  (If you don’t currently compost, now is the perfect time to start!  These veggies are a perfect way to begin…maybe that should be a future post?)

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Then, I use my 2-cup measuring cup with a spout to pour the broth, through a sieve, into a large mason jar.

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And there you have it.  Delicious bone broth.

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So good.

I usually keep one large jar in the fridge for the aforementioned morning hot mugs or if I plan to make soup within the next couple of days.  Otherwise, I buy freezer quart bags, fill them with 1 cup of broth, lay the filled bags out on a cookie tray so they lie flat, then stick in the freezer for a day.  This way, they freeze evenly and thaw easily.  Then remove from the cookie sheet and keep in your freezer to store for future use.  Side note:  when pulling these bags out of the freezer to thaw, it’s always good to place the bags in a bowl.  Occasionally, a bag will pop a small hole and once thawed, your broth will be a puddle on your counter top.

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And there it is!  And here is to all of the delicious broth and chicken noodle soup in your future!

 

On the Life of a Chicken (and how to roast one)

From this…

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to this…

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We didn’t know it would lead to this when we first moved here.  I mean, I guess we should’ve known.  When two people move their children to the country to have a deeper connection with the land and a deeper connection with their food, it’s not a far stretch to imagine us eventually butchering our own animals.  I’d heard tales of my grandmother killing a chicken for dinner, insides turning a little bit at the details of it.  I still couldn’t picture myself doing it.  When we moved here, we knew we would garden, we knew we would have chickens for eggs.  But the more I desired to know what was in our food, how it was raised, I personally had to come to terms with the fact that I ate meat, but wouldn’t raise and process it myself.  It’s not for everyone and I get it.  That is what farmers are for.   But just like building a house or writing a book, some feel perfectly fine about outsourcing it and others wanting to do it themselves.  Joe and I both felt it was something we wanted to be a part of, and so here we are – chicken farmers.

Like all new adventures, we have had our share of ups and downs.  There was the time the chicken tractor (a coop on wheels, so we can move the flock frequently for fresh grass and bugs) broke off the tractor and rolled into the ravine.  Luckily, it’s heavily treed, so it didn’t go that far down.  I remember just standing in the field, watching it happen like a car crash…Joe running after it, me standing there two hundred feet away with my mouth agape.  No chickens injured, though lots of stress-induced feather loss, thankfully.  Coyotes, hawks, name the predator and we have dealt with it, have all gotten the best of us at least once.  But the benefits – having animals on pasture, rotationally-grazing them, actually pulls carbon out of the air we breathe (good for the environment!), delicious meat, raising food we know lived their best lives before nourishing us – makes any struggle worth it.

Having said that, you don’t need to kill your own chickens.  If you have the choice and are able, buy from a local farmer.  They work hard to ethically raise food that is good for you and good for the environment.  It’s not inexpensive, but if you are willing to buy a coffee-to-go a few times a week, then you have the money to buy a locally-raised chicken.

So having said all of the above, we eat a lot of chicken.  We raise them, bring them up to the barn, thank them for the life they are giving us, then, well, you know.  I’ll spare you the details (if you want them, I am happy to share on a later post!)

I now have a lot of practice at roasting our birds and how to get the best out of them.  What follows is my favorite way to use a whole chicken, with tips and tricks gleaned from several different sources.  The more time we live here, being new to so many practices,  I feel like the way I learn best is to listen to the people who have done it for several years.  I have learned that anytime someone with more experience than you offers up the lessons they learned the hard way, you listen.

Okay, enough talk.  What follows is my favorite way to roast a chicken.  And in my opinion, a really easy way as well!

Roast Chicken a la Woods Edge Farm 

1 – 3-5 lb whole chicken
1 lemon, quartered
3-4 cloves of garlic
a few sprigs of thyme (dried thyme works as well, including from a spice jar)
1/2 yellow onion
4 medium sweet potatoes (optional)
kitchen string

Heat your oven to 425 degrees.

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If you love sweet potatoes, start here.  Wash and cut into 1/2″ cubes and cover bottom of roasting pan.  Roughly chop the onion and toss in with sweet potatoes.  (I give my friend, Sarah Tosick 100% credit for this idea.  It has become one of my favorite parts of roasting a chicken, so thank you, Sarah!!)

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Next, rinse the inside of your chicken and dry with paper towels (these can compost if you compost).  If the neck is still attached, it is up to you whether or not to remove it.  Either way, do not throw this away.  This is valuable for broth, which will be in the next post.

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Salt and pepper the inside of your chicken, then stuff with lemon, cloves of garlic and thyme.  Now truss that baby up, salt and pepper the outside of the bird, and you are ready to place in the oven.

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Note:  Some recipes call for butter or olive oil rubbed into the skin.  This isn’t necessary when buying a fresh, grass-grazed chicken. The skin is tender enough without the added fat.  But, if you are dead set on giving it a good butter bath (like my husband is – and I have it admit, it is really good.  But not necessary if you are trying to avoid butter or oil), then feel free to do that as you like.

Roast for 90 minutes, checking doneness around the 60 minute mark and every thirty minutes after that.  The smaller your bird, the quicker this goes.  Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees, you are ready to pull her out of the oven and let her rest on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

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Yum!!!!

All of the yummy juices from your chicken will drip onto your potatoes and onions underneath and make for a delicious side dish.  And if there is any left after supper, an amazing side with your eggs the next morning.

 

Important note:  once you eat your delicious chicken, save the bones and the neck from earlier.  The soup and broth post is coming up next!

I hope you love this recipe.  If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know!

Blessings
Seja

Life from Within

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Okay, let’s play a little game.

I am going to start a sentence and I want you to pick the option that would most likely follow.

Okay, here goes:

“I have decided to follow my heart and…”

  1. “…become a tax attorney.”
  2. “…take an extra shift at my job.”
  3. “…move to Patagonia to climb and write.”

Which would you say?

I know, there may in fact be people who dream of becoming a tax attorney.  There may be souls who love working the third shift at their manufacturing job.  But, let’s be honest…how many of you initially went to number three?

When we talk about following our hearts when making decisions, it can be greeted by our friends and family members with a raised eyebrow or two: “You seriously want to move to Vermont and work on a goat farm?”,  “You are seriously going to move to India for six months to study yoga?”,  “You are going to quit your corporate job to join the circus?  How are you going to pay your bills?”

It’s not ridiculous to be received this way.  A lot of times, these heart-rendered decisions can seem to come out of left-field to the people close to us.  Heartfelt desires start out as whispers.  We hear them and either choose to be curious and listen and explore where it may lead, or we stifle them.  We don’t want to cause waves.  We are comfortable.  The people around us are comfortable.  We continue to live our lives without mentioning these pulls to anyone, knowing they may look at us like we are crazy.

As life goes on, the whisper may grow into a song we hear during the rare silent moments of our lives.  It is in these moment we can choose to listen, we can sit in the silence and not distract ourselves away from this call, and let the visions and insights come to mind of what our soul is calling to bring forth.  Or we can continue to stifle this, pulling ourselves away from what may in actuality bring us purpose and presence.

Many of us have learned throughout our lives that following our hearts is not responsible.  It is not realistic.  It is not rational.  Our hearts are not always concerned with comfort, with financial outcomes, even with bodily safety (rock climber Alex Honnold’s dream to free climb El Capitan?  Do you think his mother was fully on board with that one?).  It is natural to care for the safety and comfort of your loved one.  It is innate to want your child, your sister, your partner to be safe.  And it can be simple to dismiss these calls of our hearts when we receive negative feedback, real or imagined, from anyone and everyone who may have an opinion.

But what if you are the one to break free?  What if you are the one who quiets the outside noise of resistance, of opinions, of the world around you?  What if you are able to quiet the noise inside your own mind doing its best to drown out your innate voice and give life to what your heart is asking?

When we let go of the illusion of happiness that safety and smallness can bring, when we come out of the house we have built to protect ourselves, we can grow.  We are no longer stifled by the outside world and the ridicule you may receive from it, knowing that this comes from denying their own desires within.

Find some quiet.  Breathe.  And let yourself to connect the life awaiting to come forth from within.

Photo credit : http://last-best-place.tumblr.com

The Start of My Path

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I was twenty-two years old on my way to a job interview when my car broke down.

I was about a quarter-mile outside of the first town on a long stretch of nothingness, about ninety minutes away from home.  I had just graduated from college with a marketing degree and was looking for my first job.

Six months earlier, when most people in my business school graduating class were interviewing with Fortune 500 companies, I was on the phone with a couple who owned a goat farm/bed and breakfast in Vermont, responding to their online advertisement for a caretaker.

I just could not see myself in a suit, working for a large corporation.  When it came time  to go into the business school placement office to sign up for interviews with the different companies that came to recruit, the pit in my stomach was actually physical, more of a large bubble that made my suit pants feel too tight.

Fear and shame kept me from moving to Vermont.  Student loans, a business degree, the need to be “responsible” – those were the reasons the voice in my head told me to stay in the midwest and find a job that could lead to a career in the business world.

So that’s what I did.  I graduated, moved back in with my parents to sort life out and figure out my next move.  My best friend’s dad gave me a clerical job with his company while I looked online for something more long-term.  A job opening in Indianapolis peaked my interest – outside sales (no desk – yes! Indianapolis – closer to Joe, who I had been dating for about a year and a half, and who still lived in Bloomington where we went to school).  I applied and received a call about a week later to schedule an interview.

So, there I am, on the way to the interview, and as I pull into the small town on the way to Indianapolis, I watch the temperature gauge on my dashboard quickly move into the red area.  Steam (or is that smoke?) starts to float into the sky from the hood of the car.  I look to my right and see the first building in forty-five miles, a gas station.

Hoping they might be able to help, I go inside where the nice woman at the counter  informs me this is a convenient store gas station, not an auto repair gas station.  I go back outside.  The car won’t start at this point, so I call my dad.  He has a mechanic he likes in South Bend and doesn’t want me taking the car to someplace he isn’t familiar with and paying more than I need to for repairs, so he says to hold tight, he will come pick me up.  I then call the company I am scheduled to interview with, explain the situation, apologize profusely, and ask if we can reschedule.   They are very kind and agree.

My dad comes to pick me up, we tow the car back to South Bend and drop it off at my dad’s friend’s auto repair shop.

The mechanic calls two days later to let us know that nothing is wrong with the car.

They checked it forwards and backwards and sideways.  They drove it.  They let it idle.  The car never overheated, there was no sign of damage from the car overheating earlier, and that it was ready to be picked up.  No charge since they didn’t have to fix anything.

My dad and I shrugged it off as some crazy incident.  I then picked up the car, drove to Indianapolis for the interview, got the job, moved to Indianapolis and proceeded to have the most miserable six months of my young life.

The job was not awful.  I just was never supposed to have that job.  It was not for me.  Literally.  Not in the way someone says, “Oh, golf isn’t for me.”  The job I took was not mine to have.  But I ignored all guidance, every feeling, every message – even when I was physically stopped in my tracks on the highway to the interview.  I didn’t pay attention to any of it.

We are all on our path.  Sometimes we take the off-ramp, like I did when I ignored all of the signs and messages I was receiving.  I could have listened to my heart, my innate self, and kept going, but sometimes we just aren’t ready to keep traveling.  Sometimes, we need to take a rest stop, especially when it’s dark and the road ahead isn’t visible.

And that is the one of the reasons reconnecting to our true selves is so important – when you are connected to your innate self, you can trust that whatever is happening is a part of your path (even the off-ramps and rest stops) and whichever way you go, it will lead you to the same place eventually  – to where you need to be to live a life fully expressing who you are.  And if you are feeling not-so-tapped in, eventually the signs and pull will get strong enough to lead you back to where you need to be.

I have tapped into this trust mentioned above several times, especially when I perceive things as “going wrong”, “not as I pictured”, or “not according to plan”.  Like my car breaking down – all I could think of then was how ridiculous this timing was, how much it would cost, on and on.  And now I know, if I am living a life of connection, even the “bad stuff” is there to serve me.

So, if someone were to ask me, how did you get here?  Why do you feel the need to write about this?  I would say this story was my starting point.  Yes, there were and still are times I feel disconnected and I have doubts and can’t even make a decision about what to have for lunch that day.   But now I know the difference between feeling connected to God, to soul and spirit, and what it feels like when I am lost in the fuzz of the world.  And I am having so much fun doing my best to stay connected and having more days of being in alignment with who I am than not.

Our innate selves always know what we need.  It is always there waiting for us to connect to it if we get quiet and listen.

Much more soon but in the meantime, can you think of a time when there was a sign pushing or pulling you a certain way in life? I would love to hear.

Blessings

Seja

Photo credit:  Homeland by schraglage on Flickr

 

 

Our Journey Back

 

What we are looking for is a way of experiencing the world in which we are living, that will open to us the transcendence that informs it, and at the same time, informs ourselves within it.     Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

The needs of life.  

When we are infants, they are as basic as they get, right?  We need to eat and sleep, end of list.  And fortunately, it stays that way for a while.  Our worlds are small.  We have our toys and the everyday objects we make into toys (a new refrigerator equals a huge cardboard box that is now a fort in the living room!  A pan with a wooden spoon is a drum!) and we are content, rolling around on the carpet of the family room floor.

We also lived life from our heart center, even if we weren’t aware of it at the time.  We led with our emotions.  We laughed and screamed and squealed for joy when we were having fun.  When my husband, Joe, and I were newlyweds, the backyard of our first home abutted a preschool playground, so we were reminded of this daily.  One little girl’s shrieks of delight at being chased were so signature, we knew she had moved on to kindergarten when we no longer heard it the following fall.  

We cried when we were sad or scared.  We had no edit button, we held nothing in.  

But then something happened.

We began to venture out into the world.  We started to see the beauty and openness and variety of what was outside of us.

We also saw the girl down the street with a bike with streamers coming out of the handle bars.  

We met the boy who was allowed to have the larger, more dangerous fireworks, with which to blow up the neighbor’s mailbox when they wouldn’t let you swim in their pool (Another story – I’ll save that one for later).

The voice in our mind, which was quiet up to that point, began to talk, getting louder and more vocal as we got older.  It is now the voice of commentary that starts from the minute we wake up until the minute we fall asleep at night.  It is the constant broadcasting in our minds, interpreting the play-by-play of our day.  Crazily enough, by the time we are adults, we don’t even realize it’s there anymore.  It has become such a part of us, we mistakenly think it is us. And the connection we had with our heart, the center of our soul, our soul itself, has been drowned out.

We forget.

We forget who we were when we were three years old.  The simplicity of living in the moment, the lack of thought outside of what is happening right now, all in on this tree-fort-I am-building with joy and flow in my backyard.  That is pure, divine, source/sacred/God-created energy right there.

We disconnect from the spirit, the source that made all life, the soul inside that we have always been.  And at some point, a feeling of something missing in the midst of a full life, may arise.

And then we try to fill in the disconnect, the gap.

We forget that we are sacred beings, that we are all connected, made of the same stuff as God and each other.

But as soon as our egos start to develop and we desire to be seen a certain way, we disconnect and begin to fill in.

Oh my gosh, I was so good at filling in this space between the disconnect, the gap.

Because I was completely unaware of the disconnect with my soul – other than an uneasy feeling like I was supposed to be at a party when my invitation had gotten lost in the mail – I did a bang-up job of filling it in with stuff.  And by stuff, I don’t just mean material things.

Stuff can be different for everyone, but some examples that fill in the gap:

Worry, judgment, beliefs, attachment, information overload.

My gap was brimming to the top full.

And it really is so ironic that we do this, because not only does it not bring us back to the thing we think will make us content, it actually makes it further out of reach. 

See illustration below (nice artwork, right?)

IMG_7285
The stuff on the left can be anything from worry and beliefs we love to hold on to, to buying stuff you don’t really love and don’t need.

Even though Option A can have some moments of fun, I often found it was like eating fast food at 2am – felt really good going down, but a general mixture of not-what-I-needed and regret afterwards.

Option B then.  It took me a long time to find it and I am still figuring it out.  Even when I found it, I fought it. I had a lot of thoughts initially like, “Who has got time to meditate?  I can’t even sit still for 5 minutes, and besides, I have to go to work now so I can pay my bills.”  File this under “Other Lies Your Ego Will Tell You to Keep it Intact.” 

I accepted parts of it, like gratitude, which I had actually been living my whole life subconsciously.  But gradually, one by one, I could not turn away from it.  And when I attempted to, life took over and pushed me (literally) in the direction I was meant to go (more on that later as well).  The universe will lead you to where you are supposed to go if you let it.  

It is all there to bring you back home to yourself.

As we talk more about our journey back to ourselves and reconnecting to who we truly are, can you think of a time when you truly felt like you were in the moment?  With a feeling of clarity and connection?

I am grateful you are here with me.  Let’s do this journey together.

Cheers to moving forward ~

Seja