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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I played the board game ‘Life’ for the first time last year.
I didn’t think about it again until last month.
It was lovely night, while I was laying in bed with the windows open, the breeze blowing in, about to fall asleep.
For some reason, I thought about the board game again, about the rules, about the object of it and how you win. During the game, you decide whether or not to go to college. You decide what kind of career path you want to be on, if you want to get married and have a family or not. There are choices to be made.
You continue the game until the end, which is the culmination of the life you built during the playing of this game. Here is the goal:
“After all have players have retired, all players at Millionaire Estates count their money. All players then count up their money, and add the two figures together. The player with the highest dollar amount wins!”
It was so interesting how all of us played the game differently. A couple of us were focused on winning the game, one of us just did what felt best and made her/him happy (trying to keep it anonymous:)), and another one just didn’t like any of the options and wanted to write in their own life, saying they didn’t fit in the parameters given in this game. We are a family of variety to say the least.
I didn’t think much of it at the time. My family was sitting around the kitchen table. We were laughing at each other’s choices of which turn to take, which way each person at the table chose for their life to go. As we finished and the girls got up and got ready for bed, I continued to sit at the table for a few moments afterwards, looking at the cars full of pegs that represented each player and the family they built as they played the game. I thought for a moment about how much fun we had, about how it had been a night well-spent with the girls, then cleaned up, tucked the girls in and went to bed.
Then last month, laying in bed.
I’m about to get really honest with you.
I went through a lot of change this past year. Owning a business, having a family, being ‘busy’ to the point of having very little free time will make one go through a lot of questioning about life, about what is important.
It made me ask questions about what kind of life I wanted to build for myself. And I knew one thing was important that I have already written about here – connection. Connection with others, connection with God/Spirit/Soul, and connection with myself.
And last month, I had a realization that changed everything –
I wasn’t playing anymore. And that was a source of my disconnection.
In living the life of a woman, I had lost connection with the playful girl within.
I have a friend in my life – a wise, older friend who has many more experiences and about forty additional years than me and she said something to me, asked me a question more accurately. I was expressing to her what I was going through and she looked at me and smiled and said, “Seja, why so fucking serious all the time?”
And I stopped. And I laughed.
I was thinking about this friend and this game while laying in bed and in that moment, everything changed.
I was living my life like it wasn’t the beautiful game that it is. I had become an adult to the nth degree, running a business, being a spouse, being a mother. I was looking for productivity, for efficiency, for accomplishment – I wasn’t looking for the fun anymore. I was looking at the end goal, instead of the joy in playing the game everyday I am alive.
I was laying in bed thinking about the pegs in the cars, and realized I am the peg in real life – but instead of a plastic peg, I am flesh, heart, soul. I am on this earth, my soul incarnated for the point of enjoyment, for experience, for love, and for fun.
There were times at night I would lay in bed and fear and/or worry would come over me. In the quiet when my mind had time to talk to me, it would tell me the bad things that could happen, the things I needed to worry about.
But this night was different – in that moment, I had a tremendous sense of joy, of wonder, of excitement for the next morning. The fear and worry disappeared. Any ‘bad’ things that could happen, they were now all a part of the game of life.
I’m going to take the risks I am pulled to take, not only when it’s on a pretend board game. And if I have a goal, will it be fun working to get towards that end goal? Will the time spent be time spent in joy? If not, then a reworking of what I am wanting to accomplish.
I could live my life like I am playing a game everyday. I can look at my run as a chore, as a part of my day I have to get through -or I can be excited! I get to run! I have these amazing legs with muscles that carry me – what?! How does that even happen? Maybe I’ll try to learn a handstand again today! That conversation I am afraid to have – I don’t know how it will go, but I know I will learn from it, I will feel the emotion that goes with it – another chance to be fully myself. I get to go to a grocery store and they have food that is delicious! I get to see these children wake up every morning, growing and sometimes grumpy and feeling all of the emotions of life – I get to share it with them! My husband and I love and argue and love again – what a beautiful glorious ride.
Of course there are aspects of life that we don’t enjoy, that are hard – we will have loss and we will go through trials. We will cry and then laugh in remembrance. And then comes the love and beauty and victory and goosebump moments.
The beautiful emotion of life – it is what we are here to experience. It is all on our colorful board game – the living of it day to day is what makes it beautiful and fun.
And in the end? Who is the winner? Is it the person with the most in the bank in Millionaire Estates? Or is it instead the person who can wake up everyday, put their feet on the ground and say, what adventures am I going to live today? Which choices will I make? Where will I go? What people will I meet, what will I learn, what will I experience? My work, my conversations, my relationships – it is all to be a part of this life to be enjoyed. If we can do that, then we will all be winners in the end.
Go, live your life like the adventure it is. Love and cry and talk to people you don’t know and grow in who you are. Live this life so much that you wear yourself out. This day really is a gift – go have fun.
Photo credit: http://go-exxplore.tumblr.com/post/117350739490/columbia-river-gorge