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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Creative Play


Creative Play is essential to helping our spirits grow.  I am a firm believer that play is not limited to just when we are children – that sometimes as adults in order to let our souls, bodies, spirit blossom we need to make room for play.  So much of our adult life –especially if we are parents and multi-tasking work, home and parenthood is spent in organizing, teaching, coordinating, and trying to be that “good parent.” We want to do the best for our children and often get consumed into the duties of “parenthood’ that we forget that being a little silly at times is okay.  If we are not parents, we can get ourselves totally absorbed in our work, other duties, and relationships and forget about playing a little bit. We as adults take ourselves a little too seriously sometimes and when we give ourselves permission to play – our perspective changes.  

What does play look like to you? Do you find yourself thinking twice about doing something that is considered “childlike?”  Do you make time for play?  I remember an incident one time, when my son came up to me and said – “mommy can we go to the playground?” In my usual sense, I figured it would be a situation where I watch him play and I get to hang out on the bench.  As an adult – I get to relax while he plays.  But when I got there, I was in for a surprise – There is a mini spinner where you can either sit or stand on it, and with the body of your weight, you spin yourself around – almost similar to your own private mini merry go round.  He wanted me to join him in this – and of course my first impulse was “are you serious.”  My husband had no problem getting on it – and I decided to try it – and I felt like a kid again – it was fun.  Those five minutes on there did something for me and did something for him – we were both present together – it wasn’t about “should and must and have and not’ –it was simply a moment of togetherness between us where we all were on the same page having fun.  Yes, we have had many of those moments as a family – but often we get lost in our mundane events of life and moments like this wake us up – and make us treasure that moment.  

What are some ways you can make that inner child come out?  Think of something that you can do for yourself even if it is just five minutes a day or a week for your soul.   My latest obsession has been using pastel crayons and sketching/coloring for 5-10 minutes.   It adds “color” to my day especially in the middle of a work day.

Books were magcal to me as a chld.  to be able to be transported to a new world was and still is amzing.  So much so, I recently picked up the copy of The Little Prince.  I remember reading it as a child and loving it.  I decided to re-read it again.  What I found interesting was because my perspective has changed as an adult – I understood  it differently.   As a child – it was magical to read about this little prince who travels from planet to planet and meet all these interesting characters.     I am glad I still had the same feeling as I read the book although the message this time reading was quite different. 

Reading it again it got me thinking about things I must continue to do for myself that can make me feel that child-like wonder no matter what.  Think of some of your favorite activities as a child.  What where they?  Pick one and just do it. 

A Journal Prompt:
Blowing bubbles, splashing in puddles I …..
( write for 10 minutes non stop) .   



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The flower of the night.

April is the month of poetry. I have been using various prompts to dabble In poetry.  From Haikus, to Six word Memoirs, to taking one line from a favorite poem and running with it..it has been fun. I have also used this month to share and encourage my son to write poems. We pick a word and write a  four line poem. 
Keeping a poetry journal with all these various prompts can stretch you and keep you wanting to do more and more....

I leave you with this- 

Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the the flower of the night.
Let your words be soft and gentle like the breeze of the wind
Let me be able to look at you one more time 
So I can say my words to you
Let my love for you forever be strong
Let there be more grace in my life 
For your protection has always been my force
The flower of the night has been laid to rest
But my soul aches to smell it's fragrance
My eyes long to see the lamp that light your heart
I take these last words to you
And bow to you till eternity.
Your love has brought me this far 
It will lead me again.
I continue on this path knowing
Your fragrance always surrounding my air
So this is not adieu
But rather a parting of some sort
Till we meet again.



Happy journaling!



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Union

They say marriages are made in heaven.   I say that they may be made in heaven, but it is up to the two individuals to really make it work.  Sometimes relationships/marriages last a lifetime, sometimes they don't.  I am not here to judge the reasons of it and say whether it is right or wrong.  What I do know about marriages is what my parents taught me - and today i say thank you to them for showing me the meaning of love.  Love is unconditional and that is what they taught us as we watched them interact with one another.   Yes, like any normal couple they had their disagreements, their ups and downs, but because both of them strongly believed in their love for one another, they knew they had to make it work.  That was their common ground - they both knew they loved each other.  Knowing that, everytime an obstacle came their way, it was their love for each other that made them see through it.  IT was not about "me" or "you."  It was about "we, us" and with that view point they grew together in harmony and in their relationship.   They were opposites, but their souls had them locked together and because each of them on some level knew that, they worked on developing themselves so that they could be better partners for each other.   For me conflict was not seen as something that was negative, but as something that strengthened their relationship further.  Their personalities were total opposites.   And despite that they managed to survive, and learn to be independent individuals but at the same time "together."  -growing up i saw them fight like any normal couple, but i saw them laugh, i saw them forgive, i saw them pray togther, and i saw them try to understand each other even if they did not agre, and i saw them dance.   No matter what their differences, what brought them together was their love - and knowing that, they decided to make it work through thick and thin.  We saw them as two individuals who really loved each other rather than just our parents.  April 14th would have been 43 years that they would have been married.   A reminder to me about the meaning of commitment and love -and that it can truly withstand all storms if we have a will to do it.  And that patience can take you a long way. 

A Journal Prompt for you:  Our Love is..... (write for five minutes)

Remember a special moment in your relationship, or an event in your relationship.   Now write about it as if it is in the present - describe every detail, sense, smell, feeling - allow yourself to relive that moment through writing.  

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What Trees teach us..


“Look at a tree, a flower, a plant, Let your awareness rest upon it.  How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being.  Allow nature to teach you stillness.  ~Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks.
Last week I did a walking meditation in a park.  I love to walk but more than anything I love to walk in nature where I am surrounded by sounds of the birds chirping, trees, the smell of fresh air and so I try to make a routine of at least if not once a week, but twice a week of doing some type of walking in nature.  In fact, it has become part of our family routine on the weekends.  If the weather is good, we know we are going to the nature center for a walk in the woods.  There is something about walking with trees.  Last week I went to a park by my house that has a small walking trail.  Usually this park is blooming with flowers – cherry blossoms, tulips, roses, a little secret garden, a gazebo.  But this time, although the air was fresh and it felt like spring – the trees were bare and the grass was dry.  We are still coming out of a winter and so just like we are taking time to adjust to the seasons – the plants and the trees are confused.  Confused about do I bloom or do I not?  Either way, I decided to walk – a walking meditation is just like sitting in meditation where the awareness is on the breath – as you take each step.  It felt strange at first doing it because I wondered if someone were to watch me, what would they think I am doing-but then again that was my mind trying to talk me out of it.   It lasted for a total time of 15 minutes where the awareness was on the breath as I walked and what was in front of me.  All I saw were trees.  Tall trees, long huge pine trees, tiny trees, but each of them looked different.  Not a single one was alike.  I noticed them because they were bare – there were no leaves on them to cover them and each one was so beautiful in their own way.   Each tree had a character to it.   Some had branches that were intertwined with one another forming a pattern, some had an essence about them in the way they swayed, leaned over, and stood tall.  Each tree shined with wisdom.  There was something beautiful about walking amongst that and seeing the beauty of each tree.  It may sound a little strange to many but for me in that moment, I felt connected to the universe and to creation. 

Trees are ancient.  They have withstood tornadoes and snow storms.  They go through a transformation of some kind.  In the winter, they bare all of their leaves, but still stand tall and strong.  In the spring, buds begin to bloom and you by summer you have them shining forth their leaves.  In the fall they change colors and provide us beauty that is beyond words.  And they still remain standing still.   They give shelter to the birds – they protect us from the scorching sun, and to us as humans they give us so much.  So much of what we use as humans come from trees.  I felt a sense of gratitude towards the trees as I walked.  But I was also in awe of the wonder of our creator.   Every time I see a tree that I feel speaks to me, I am compelled to take a picture.  I want to capture the essence of what I think that tree is trying to remind us all of.  For me the answer is simple – underneath all the leaves "I am still “that.” Unaffected, strong, gentle, beautiful and compassionate-and it reminded me once again of us as humans and what we must strive to be.  Be in the world and act in the world but be unaffected by outside circumstances and remain still.  And that we are all connected in this web of life just like the branches form out of the tree, we too spread far and vast -but we must never forget our roots and the essence of who we really are.   That is what nature teaches me and that is what the trees taught me. 


Happy Journaling!





 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Memories...

We have good memories and bad memories.   We often get stuck in the
negative memories and forget about the positive ones that have helped
us face life with courage, wisdom and joy.   It is like staring at a
dark tunnel - we get scared thinking that we are in this long tunnel
and wonder if there is a way out - when all we have to do is look
ahead and see the light that is shining through that is leading the
way.   Fear works that way - it takes over you in a paralyzing way not
allowing you to look beyond the surface.   Think of fear - when was
the first time you remembered your first fearful emotion? How old were
you?   My first vivid memory of feeling fearful was when I was five
and then when I was seven.  I may not have called it fear, but I knew
what it felt like and I knew I was frightened.

Think of what is keeping you in fear today- what are some memories
that keep coming back?  What if you looked at those memories and take
a moment to see if any lessons came out of that.  Are you a more
courageous person today as a result? Are you more communicative? Are
you more disciplined? Are you more loving?  Or are you more
distrustful? Are you more resentful? Or do you take things in your
stride?  Did that experience make you for the worse or did it teach
you something about yourself that is making you a better person.  If
you feel you are a better person - than today, give honor to those
events in life or those individuals who came into your life as
"mentors," as "teachers."  Giving honor, respecting those teachers
gives voice to a value/skill you have learned.  It also teaches you to
let go to embrace the future.   If you feel you still need to let go,
then perhaps this piece will lend some insight into small steps to
doing that.

The memories are strong - they keep us sometimes stuck in our growth
process, and prevent us from moving forward.  What if we learn to turn
to view those memories as mentors - or teachers to help us release
those fears?  Our fears hold us back from facing many events in life.
They hold us back from taking risks, trying something new, allowing
ourselves to fully enjoy the relationships we are in, and last but not
least in becoming our highest self.  Our fears can keep us stagnant
for a long time. I heard a meditation this morning on Fearlessness -
by Arianna Huffington - and she said  "Memories from the past serve us
and others do not.  Let us learn to release negative emotions we may
have been holding onto and remember the positive ones that made us
feel strong and valued."

No one is free of fear - it comes to us at different points in our
lives.  Yet we can face our fears fully when we acknowledge where our
fears come from and what we have learned from that fear.   It is truly
a liberating feeling when you can look at fear in its face and say to
it " hey, I know you are here, but  I am glad that this time, I won't
run away from you, but will face you."  If I had to sum up how facing
my fears have helped me face life it would be in various stages -
facing death of a loved one/ones - more in the context that yes it was
painful for me to face death - but the people that I lost were amazing
individuals that taught me how to live and gratitude beyond words for
having been so close to them.  So I channeled that fear of death to
honor their lives and what it meant to me.   Another fear is change -
change comes in different forms - life changes, job changes, status
changes - sometimes we are unprepared for them and they hit you in the
face- when that happens our fears start to rise and most often we will
freeze.  But knowing that we have overcome major changes in our lives
gives us confidence. So when a new change  arises,  instead of
allowing ourselves to succumb to the fear - remember the last change
in your life and how you faced that - honor it - and write down what
it is that you learned and accomplished.  Doing that teaches us to
move forward with trust, love, and hope.

So as an avid journal writer how do we put this into practice - Honor
your mentors - send them a letter, a card, acknowledging their
presence in your life.

Write down your first memories of fear - how old were you - how did
you overcome it? What did you achieve? - Look at a child who is afraid
of the dark -their parent works with them by teaching them tools about
overcoming their fear - see their faces when they are no longer afraid
- grinning, feeling a sense of pride - so we too  must acknowledge our
strengths and accomplishments.

When you are faced with a situation where you know you are reacting to
fear - begin to keep a log of your behaviors, eating habits, your
sleep patterns - do it for a week - see if there are any patterns that
keep emerging.  Think about the way in which fear is overcoming you -
write a letter to your fear.  I ask you to think about doing that and
you will see what comes up.   Then make a commitment with yourself to
face it or it will consume you.


Happy Journaling!