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April 16, 2011

Things Fall apart and Come Back Together - Often in a Better Way


Awhile back, I saw the movie “Then She Found Me” with Colin Firth, Matt Broderick, Bette Midler, and Helen Hunt about a woman who gets dumped by her husband. This causes her world to seemingly fall apart, but it doesn’t take long before she falls in love with a man she is much better suited to be with. Of course, they are both terrified of love due to each having lost at it the first time around. The tension around their clumsy attempts at relationship creates the action of the movie.

I cherish and relate to the conversation that occurs at the end of the movie after a comedy of errors that comes precipitously close to keeping the two destined lovers apart (e.g., she sleeps with her Ex even though she doesn’t love him anymore).

She: “I will disappoint you again and again, not in THAT way. If I disappoint you in that way, I want you to leave. You would leave wouldn’t you?”

He: “Yes.”

She: “And you could leave for another reason."

He: “I won’t.”

She: “But, you could.”

He: “I won’t.”

She: “But, you could.”

He: “Yes, I could.”

She: “But, we will go ahead and try this thing.”

The above is a loose paraphrase of that conversation. Point being is that it got me thinking about the impermanence of things I’ve experienced in my own life and how we humans can’t predict the future with any final certainty, although, we love to think we can.

Oh, there was a time when I was younger…but, I would no longer be so brazen as to set my future in stone. For one thing, I've learned that my little ego isn’t smart enough to understand my Life (capital "L") from a Big Picture perspective.

I’ve also learned that when things fall apart (and they most assuredly do in the life of each person at one time or another), it is not so much about “What?” “How?” or “Why?” so much as the way we choose to deal with whatever gets thrown onto our paths that makes all the difference.

While such thoughts were still fresh in my mind; I decided to check my Facebook Wall and happened across the Status of the Awakening Women Institute:

“Each and every one of us will experience times when things fall apart. During these times, we are stripped of part of our identity. It can feel terrifying; it can feel unfair, yet these moments when our self-identity is less solid can provide a powerful initiation into a greater sense of freedom. The dismantling of identity throws us into unknown territory and into change.”

Aw, Change. It keeps the Wheel of Fortune ever turning and allows us mere mortals opportunity to experience just how creative and resourceful we can be as co-creators of this sometimes dreadful/sometimes wonderful life!

April 14, 2011

How Synchronicity “Speaks”


Synchronicity often speaks to me in nature through birds and animals and the changing of seasons. It also comes to me in other ways: book passages, movies, things people say, music, signs I see while traveling the roadways, and music to name a few. I have a musician friend who experiences synchronicity most often in music. She told me about a time when she was working at how to play Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" by ear, but just couldn't seem to find or remember the chords. Giving up for the time being, she posted the lyrics in her kitchen and went Christmas shopping. When she arrived at one of her favorite bookstores, "You've Got a Friend" came on over the intercom system, bringing back the lost cords to memory!

My friend’s meaningful music coincidence reminds me of a synchronicity of my own, having to do with music that was quite incredible. It happened during the time just preceding my
husband's death in 2008. Like many home caregivers of terminally ill individuals, I was concerned that the right amount of pain medication be given to ease my loved one’s pain, but not enough to make him comatose as he approached his final hour. His Hospice nurse and I discussed my feelings, and she suggested that "H" be transferred temporarily to a Hospice nursing home for a few days where the effect of the pain meds could be tested with equipment not available at home. H's death although close did not seem imminent to the Hospice staff. However, I still felt uncomfortable about him going to the center since I had promised that I would do all in my power to help him to die peacefully at home. I went to bed that evening thinking about the idea of transporting him to the nursing home for a few days. Part of me wanted to send him for testing, because he seemed to be slipping more and more into a state of delirium, and I wanted to be absolutely certain that it wasn’t the strong dosage of pain medication causing this. On the other hand, my dear husband was very weak and I felt that if he were to die in the nursing home, I would have gone back on my word to him. Anyone who has been the primary caregiver of a dying person can understand the dilemma in which I found myself.


The next morning, H was surprisingly lucid and asked to hear music on our local community radio station, WMNF, located at 88.5 on the FM dial – the station we generally listened to together before the physical and mental decline he experienced as the illness progressed. Lately, the music on the station had only served to agitate him in his current state of mind, so I rarely turned it on. I was happy to see him so alert and desiring to hear music, and thought, perhaps, my difficult decision could actually be averted altogether. I turned on the radio, and a very passionate song by singer/songwriter Conor Oberst was in the process of blaring away. The refrain went like this: I don’t wanna die in the hospital/No, I don’t wanna die in the hospital/No, No, I don’t wanna die in the hospital/You gotta take me back outside! Astounded, I looked back at H who had apparently not heard the verse as he slipped into unconsciousness almost as soon as the radio had been turned on. I will never know for sure if he heard the words to the song, but in that instance I knew that I had the answer to my dilemma: H would remain at home! Had he gone for testing, he most assuredly would have died in the Hospice nursing home, because he died exactly two days later.


As if that important message wasn't enough, the very next song on the station held meaning for me around H's death as well. It was Jackson Brown's For a Dancer. I had been looking for the right music for the memorial service, and this was it! The song was written for a friend of Browne’s that had recently passed away, and I and other family members who listened to it found it quite moving. The words perfectly fit aspects of my husband’s love of life and of dancing (he was always pulling me up on the dance floor ahead of everyone else). When played at his memorial, along with pictures highlighting his short but meaningful life, the song lyrics brought tears of bittersweet recognition to the eyes of everyone present: Keep a fire burning in your eye/Pay attention to the open sky/You never know what will be coming down/I don’t remember losing track of you/You were always dancing in and out of view/I must have thought you would always be around…


Do you have a special way that synchronicity speaks to you and grabs your attention? Or a story of meaningful coincidence that you would like to share here? Please feel free to post it in the Comments section of this blog.

April 13, 2011

Finding My Mission in Life



Back in 2007, I came across a dream I had recorded in a journal several months prior to beginning work on the Finding Your Mission in Life course materials that were part of my Transpersonal Studies Master's program. My focus in the program is in Spiritual Mentoring. The symbolism in the dream had a lot to do with my then current studies:

Baba Yaga Dream: I come out of a building and start to go down a road. I soon realize that it is the wrong way to go, and choose another road. It is a dead end – ends with a brick wall. I apologize to the people I have to cut in front of to turn around, and begin going the other direction on the first road I was on, realizing that I am now going the right way. I am carrying a broom that causes a big stir with the people I pass. A small group of them start making fun of it (the broom), calling it a special name (I remember it to be “Baba Yaga” when I wake up). I carry the broom past the people on the side of the road. Once I am clear of them, I start riding it like a pogo stick. It is so fast and so fun to ride that I pass a lot of people up on the road. Eventually, I come to an open field and keep bouncing along joyfully.

I found this journaled dream just minutes before I began working on the “Self-Discovery” learning module for the course. I am writing about this, because I believe that finding the dream at that time was a special synchronicity. It still illuminates inner states of mind for me as they relate to my life’s mission in this second half of life. It warrants being included here as well, because working with dreams and synchronicities through reflective journaling has been a real joy for me and a process that I intend to work with in my spiritual mentoring practice.

In the above dream, some of the symbols signify choices I have made – wrong turns that delayed my progress and other decisions that turned me around to move ahead quickly in discovering passion and freedom in my life. As the dream shows, I am a person that doesn’t always follow the norm. I feel more at home in my own skin when I am off the linear, main road of life and checking out its mysteries in a more circular, spacious way that is portrayed by the open field symbolism in the dream.


When I had the dream, I was not familiar with the specific characteristics of Baba Yaga per se, but found this excerpt on the Internet describing her in part: Baba Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. Wild and untamable, she is a nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth (“About Baba Yaga” at www.oldrussia.net/baba.html). I see a connection with this symbol and my own path of transformation of late. I was 60-years old when I had the dream. Now, at 64 and having retired from my corporate marketing job, I feel I am finally entering the Crone stage of archetypal feminine development that the dream presaged. The soul work I am engaging in in this second half of my life is shifting from the more culturally masculine focus, engendered by a career in business, to re-birthing the archetypal Feminine in ways that include focusing on unity, communication, creative writing, storytelling, and opening.

Dreams, synchronicities, stories, myths, and visions are the energy sources that charge my psyche and point me intuitively in the direction my inner life is beckoning. When I work with the symbols of my dreams and synchronicities, I feel in synch with the larger picture of my life. Finding ways to apply the lessons from my meditations, dreams and visions to my daily life is the grounding mechanism I use to stay focused. Writing about my experiences is the best way I know to share them. However, learning to apply my inner knowing to my everyday life has been an ongoing process for me. I have never found the work easy, and consider myself a late bloomer in the Life Mission department. I have certainly experienced my share of hitting walls at the end of dead-end roads along the way. But, by taking up the proverbial “pen,” or broom, again, I am finding a way to share my insights (creative writing is a gift that I exhibited in early in childhood and gave up in adulthood for the more formulaic writing called for in marketing and sales). I also intuitively know that I am on the right road that is leading me to greater passion and freedom in my life as experienced in the exhilaration of bouncing in the open field.

Another synchronicity worth noting here happened during those first weeks of working on my spiritual mentoring courses. I took a break from a Finding Your Mission in Life writing assignment and went to the local library in St. Petersburg, Florida where I then lived to get a few books for a research project I was working on. A laminated peace of paper fell out of the first book I picked up. It was a bookmark from Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am well acquainted with Fountain Street, as a non-denominational, metaphysical church in the Grand Rapids Area where I lived for part of my life and the city where I have strong ancestral ties! On the bookmark, these words were printed: “We strive to be a vibrant church community that challenges individuals to craft their own spiritual journeys and engage in creative and responsible action in the world.” I humbly thanked the universe for giving me those special words. I couldn’t have expressed my life’s mission as a writer and spiritual mentor any better for myself!

April 12, 2011

A Seed is Planted



Thought seeds planted in consciousness, like seeds planted in the earth, have vibrational energy. The act of honoring an event of synchronicity by writing it down in a journal allows its meaning to grow in light of conscious reflection over time. My own experience with this type of journaling over the past five years has produced some amazing results in the way I think and perceive the world around me. These results include heightened intuition and creativity, better dream recall, and a larger view of reality that is connected to both the observed and hidden influences that affect my day to day life. I have discovered that there is power in writing down meaningful coincidences as they happen to me and then pondering their meaning for my life over time. While engaging in this process of reflective journaling, new thought patterns have emerged that nourish my soul’s longing for truth and self-expression.

Since I began my journaling project, I have experienced many instances of synchronicity, but one comes to mind as an especially powerful. It coincided with a message contained within a dream. The dream and the synchronicity following it occurred at a time when I was dealing with feelings around a painful relationship. Intellectually, I realized that the other person was not the “bad guy,” but was having a rough go of it emotionally. I fell asleep one night after wrestling with this issue, and had a dream that contained an important message for my life. A message that serves me to this day.

Moving From Warrior to Wise Woman
I am a general in the front ranks of a war zone. All is dark and chaotic in the midst of the battle. Quite suddenly I decide to give up my position of leadership in the battle to a man in the dream. I continue to merely view the scene, not engaging in the fighting any longer. Later, I discover that I have dug a deep well. I find myself arranging stones of different sizes and colors around the outside of the well housing that is above ground. When I am finished, it looks like an old-fashioned well with a wooden bucket on a rope pulley dangling at the top. I am pleased with my work and consider whether or not to lower the bucket into the cool, clear water below. EOD
        
After recording it in my dream journal, I summed-up the dream’s theme in a sentence: A woman gives up fighting and builds a container to hold a substance that will quench her thirst. I took this to mean that I was making a positive move somewhere in my psyche (not consciously yet) toward peace and emotional nourishment and away from the inner conquest that the ill-fated relationship had stirred in me. I knew upon reflection of the dream that had I stayed asleep, I would have lowered the bucket and drank of the cool, nourishing water. Later that morning, as I began again to think about the dream’s meaning, I said aloud to myself, Yes, I think a part of me is ready to drink of the water of this well! As I said this, I absentmindedly walked over and picked out Heal Thyself, by author Saki Santorelli from my bookshelf. I had purchased the book earlier in the week, but hadn’t begun reading it. I opened it at random to these words, “Right now it feels as if each of us is standing at the edge of a deep well, staring into a shimmering unknown, wrestling with the unspoken question, ‘Do I say no to this moment, remaining parched and brittle? Or do I say yes and drink from the uncertain waters, holding the possibility of life renewed?” Having taken all the Jungian courses that my mid-western university had offered (not many, but enough), the concept of synchronicity was not new to me. What was new was the crystal clear experience of it in my own life in that moment in time. I knew I had just been given a powerful gift of grace and continue to feel much gratitude and humility in the face of it.