“Clouds symbolize the veils that shroud God.”—Honore de Balzac

My head has been in the clouds these last few days—the sky scape with its disparate displays drawing my attention upward. Throughout the day, the clouds are spread out like puzzle pieces awaiting connection, their texture like stretched wool, the colors muted with pastel blues and the slightest tint of pink separating the willowy masses. The canvas of clouds feels near—hovering—almost as if it belongs to another planet, another world completely.

At sunset a vast contrast occurs—the sky dividing into fragments of intense streaks of sienna and amaranth pink. Thin slivers of bright, golden light divide the layers of color. Tall pines become black towers in the foreground of the vibrant display as we drive through forested lands, peering for a glimpse of the setting sun.

The clouds at this hour disappear all together.

As an early-riser and also sometimes-keeper-of-the-night, I mostly collapse into bed dead-tired, falling off to sleep within moments. I fall asleep mid, “thank you,” a parade of images from my day flooding through me. I like this feeling. I watched my father work himself to the bone for much of my life and I’ve come to understand the impulse— the easing quality of meaningful hard work—and the contentment of collapsing at the end of the day, mission accomplished.

Occasionally, I will prioritize sleep, aware of the opportunity to be transported to a healing and renewing place. I dream more vividly and grasp for the messages imparted. I wake up feeling as if my brain has been reset. I recently got into bed before I was bleary-eyed sensing that it might be a while before I slept. I laid on my back—a heavy, down blanket covering me—and placed one hand on my abdomen and the other on my heart. I dropped down into myself—like falling into a vast, dark night’s sky. I might have been a feather floating in space.

I was aware of my spine but I experienced everything else as pure energy. At first, there were clouds huddled in my midst—bunched up and stormy—heavy—especially around where my throat and lower back might have been. I noticed a part of myself that began winnowing out the particles of these billowy vapors, freeing them to return to their rightful place. The essence of me was like a sheet being pulled back taut and tucked in.

I drifted in the wake of this movement noticing a greater buoyancy of my being, noticing a sense of having been recharged and made right again.

Jonah is nearly nine years old now. The top of his head rests at the top of my sternum and he likes to show how strong he is by picking me up. He bends at the thighs—creating a firm center of gravity—and wraps his arms around me mid-leg, lifting me into the air at an angle—like a rocket ready to be launched.

I feel like I might topple over and yell, “that’s enough, that’s enough!” He insists in his demonstration I not hold onto anything. I try to be a good sport and cooperate, tightening my body like a dancer in a lift.

Despite his strength, he’ll still climb into my lap and let me hold him. I wrap my arms around his waste or chest hoping we’ll always be so close, knowing it is impossible.

When he was littler and would sit in my lap, I would sometimes pat him on the back almost like I was playing a drum. Once his spritely friend was over and I was patting his back and she exclaimed, “why are you beating him?” She laughed and laughed. Whenever I did that to him—and I sometimes still do—it felt like I was helping him to come more fully into his body. It felt like I was grounding his airy nature and securing him onto the earth.

Yesterday I had intended to begin working on the second part of a two-piece creation in my, “Free to Play” art project. I had first created an image of my younger son Adrian leaping off of our back porch—his pocket goldfish-orange. I planned to create an image of what precipitated the jump—the crouch before the launch.

I went in search of the tracing paper I use in the first phase of the work and saw—and remembered—that I had finished the roll. I didn’t have time to go out and buy more materials before school pick-up so I began looking around to see if there were some scraps of paper I could tape together and use.

I couldn’t find any but I did come across a sketch of a woman—folded over in grief—that I had worked with previously.

I felt inspired to return to that image with the time I had. I could feel myself returning, also, to the original joy of this process without the constraints of planning and instead following an inner guidance system that drew me to particular colors and textures and shapes and showing me how to piece them together in an intuitive way—like a puzzle put together in the dark.

As I worked, I noticed a thinning out of the energy within me—the bunched up places unfurling and returning to balance. I felt a sense of relief and as if the atmosphere was clearing and a thousand tiny lights were being switched back on—brightening the way and returning me to firm footing once again.

 

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“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller

I was recently contacted by the website, 27goodthings.com, with a request that I share three things that I feel are good to read, good to watch and good to use. I found the exercise to be interesting and thought it might be worth sharing. These are my three good things. What are yours?

Three Good Things to Read:

There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne Dyer
As a mother, I am met with countless challenges throughout my day. To someone without children, these hurtles may seem minor and kept in perspective, they really are. Things like, negotiating with a little one who doesn’t want to go be strapped into his carseat. Removing a toy being used as armament from clutched fingers—in a gentle way. Comforting hurt feelings and smoothing out misunderstandings between two boys who have only been walking around on this planet for less than five years combined. Maintaining patience and mindfulness for marathon lengths of time. Alongside these experiences, I am a human being with a journey of my own, sometimes struggling to overcome the various ways in which life can feel like an uphill climb. All of Wayne Dyer’s teachings speak about the wisdom we may find within and from our highest source, if only we take the time to look. It doesn’t matter if we are taming toddlers or negotiating world peace. This book in particular sits in plain view in my home always reminding me that I have a choice to choose a spiritual solution in any situation no matter how big or small a problem may be.

Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
This is a book that was required reading for my husband if we were to continue dating more than eight years ago. To this day, we remain spiritual partners even when we have days when it doesn’t seem that way. Especially when we have days when it doesn’t seem that way. This book holds a special place for me because it opened my mind more fully to the idea that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience and that each person we encounter may be—if we allow them to be—a spiritual partner. Along with Zukav, I believe that even when our agreements aren’t conscious, we are all teachers to one another, constantly changing roles and living out various story lines as needed for our souls to grow and become more fully whole.

Quotes and Writings by Emerson & Thoreau
My favorite memories, my favorite days with my children take place almost exclusively in nature. Watching my two boys spin around and around looking up at the sky, then falling down at the beach last week with bare feet exposed but still snuggled in winter coats was pure heaven to me. Leaning back against a stone wall, heated by the sun, I thought about how time at the beach has long been a place of solace for me—the rhythm of the ocean grounding me and settling any rough waters I may be experiencing within. As I’ve grown more devoted to mindfulness, my love, my attunement to nature has expanded as well. With this I have discovered Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and all of the Transcendentalists in a new way. Choose a quote of theirs, any of them and just sit with it. Sit with it in nature and discover a whole new way of looking at the world.

Three Good Things to Watch

Water Dripping
Last week I was traveling to an appointment when I suddenly realized that I was supposed to drop my car off for an inspection. I had to change directions, the loaner car that I was given was almost out of gas and when I arrived at my appointment one minute before I was supposed to, I felt anxious and ungrounded. In the waiting room there was a water cooler with a hot-water nozzle to make tea but there was no water bottle present and so to make tea I needed to allow a very slow drizzle of  the left-over water in the machine to make its way out onto my tea bag. I crouched down comfortably and allowed that moment to begin calming me. I watched as the water came out so very slowly. I noticed the way the tea bag appeared when the water dripped onto it. I breathed. I settled into myself and I made tea. These moments in life in which we must wait, the stop lights, the long lines at the market, can be incredibly grounding, incredibly soothing if we allow ourselves to slow down, sink into our bodies and just take them in.

Your Breath
In my mind breathing is incredibly underrated. It is that which ultimately allows us to continue living in this wild and magnificent and monotonous and exciting and lonely and loving and thrilling place that we call life. Sitting and closing my eyes, first deepening my breath and then beginning to watch and notice the circular nature of my breath—beginning to watch and notice all of the places my breath touches—I settle more deeply into myself. If all we do is begin to notice our breath, we begin to live more deeply, more meaningfully and with greater joy for all of the little miracles of being alive.

A Child’s Face
There is no more lovely place than a child’s cheek. With your eyes, trace their lashes, notice the precious nature of their lips, the curve of their hair. Observe a child’s face when they laugh, observe them when they cry or protest or are surprised. Watch them especially when they are watching you. Watch them as they take it all in and learn from you how to live. There in a child’s face are his joys, his concerns and all that we need to know to help him along.

Three Good Things to Use

Intuition
We have five senses that are commonly counted on to take in the world around us—sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Peppered in between the messages we receive from these senses are other signals found sometimes in our “gut” and sometimes posted on a billboard as we drive along a highway. Conserve time and energy in your life by tapping into and using these messages as guideposts along your journey. If you pay attention and tap into this powerful Sixth Sense, you will know clearly which job to take, whether or not you need to move and who to call at the exact moment needed. Among others, author and teacher, Sonia Choquette, was one of the first messengers who awakened in me a powerful appreciation for my intuitive gift, a gift we all have if only we may listen.

Forgiveness
It can be very difficult to let go of painful experiences and forgive those who have hurt us — it is a practice that has not always come easily to me. However, when we do choose and use forgiveness as a regular practice in our lives, we can move on more quickly to the real purpose of our being here. Carrying around pain, whether recent or very old, can be like carrying along an extra weight in everything we do. Knowing that we are choosing forgiveness as a way of being will set us up for easier encounters when situations arise that are potentially hurtful to us. This is not to say that we should allow people to continually injure us without some consideration for their role in our life but more of a plan to travel lightly. Unload the pains of your past, plan to keep your luggage light and move forward in being all that you were called here to be.

Gratitude
Oh-how-differently I feel when I choose gratitude. Like most people, when I examine my life closely and not-even-so-closely, I see that I have much, much more to be grateful for than to complain about and when I choose to focus on these things, I inevitably feel happier and more focused, more loving and connected to the meaning of my life. If only you may count three reasons to feel grateful at the start of your day, you will notice a tone of gratefulness rippling across your life and creating tremendously positive waters.

 

What are your Three Good Things?

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” —Henry David Thoreau

My car is toasty warm. I can feel the muscles in my back relaxing, made loose by the heat of my seat warmer. I come to the parking lot of a large Methodist church in rural Maine—snow dusting my windshield—and pull in. I choose a parking spot facing the road with my back to the church. I’m not a Methodist but there is something about this particular church with it’s large cross on the exterior coupled with the dual red flame insignia that feels comforting to me. I’ve parked here many times—never entering— finishing up phone calls with sleeping babies in carseats, passing time for one reason or another. I’ve seen their sign for pot-luck suppers and have imagined myself attending. It’s unlikely that I ever will. This is a place whose energy I’m meant to absorb through osmosis, I think. I don’t know how I know that what goes on in there is good, except that I can feel it. I find myself here after a challenging morning—a very ill family member on my mind. As I sit in this heavenly spot, observing a snowstorm come in less powerfully then predicted, I feel at peace. I take note of the absolute calm and groundedness that has come over me and feel grateful.

Never having really surfed, I think about riding waves often and how we may find ourselves upright and gliding at the most unexpected of times in life. I think about how this summer our sweet swimming lessons with Jonah took a turn unexpectedly and became more challenging. Previously excited about his lessons, Jonah, at a point began to resist. I didn’t blame him. His teacher had decided unexpectedly and without warning to suit him in a “bubble” floating device with less strength than he had previously worn. This change caused Jonah to inexplicably go sinking under the water, his teacher’s back turned toward him. It gave him a good scare—her delay in responding especially alarming. It gave me a good scare as well. And from then on, he struggled with the lessons. I tried to convince him that he was safe but he was understandably afraid. It made our journeys to the YMCA a little less enjoyable. I remember one afternoon finding myself using manipulative language to try to convince Jonah to join in his class. I caught myself and stopped. I was feeling underwater myself not knowing how to best handle this situation. The opposite of riding a wave. I just kept moving ahead. We played in the shallow end, Jonah enjoying himself there, with his little brother Adrian who lacked fear altogether and kept trying to swim away from me at less than two years old. My fingers were numb from the too cold water as I gathered my boys up and we headed for the shower. I carried Adrian right into the shower with me and (a first) he didn’t want to be put down. Jonah was occupying himself with the sprayer and Adrian had curled his body up on me like he was an infant again—almost as if he was going to go to sleep under the warm waterfall. I relaxed into his arrangement and then suddenly found myself riding a glorious wave. I pulled myself up and was gliding. Along with the water, a wonderful sense of calm came over me and I felt distinctly like a Koala bear holding her cub. I allowed for the moment to linger on and on. I felt cleansed of my words to Jonah. I felt like I was in a spa. I have long thought water to be healing, to be centering, and in that moment it was for me.

One day, I would love to have the opportunity to learn to surf. It is not a stretch—me at surf camp. I have put it on the list for when my children have grown and are ready to surf themselves. Until then, I will look for the many, many beautiful waves that come crashing through my life and be ready for when one of them sweeps me up and allows for me to ride along, joyfully and at peace.