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Spirit of Agape http://spiritofagape.com Wed, 06 Apr 2016 21:56:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.23 Live as if you are Camping http://spiritofagape.com/live-camping/ http://spiritofagape.com/live-camping/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 23:17:29 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/?p=1061 Lately, I have found myself very scattered mentally, no […]

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Lately, I have found myself very scattered mentally, not so focused. Have any of you felt this way recently too? The good thing for me this time, however, is that I have listened to my guidance this month – I have slowed down and made more frequent trips into the woods to ground myself into the present moment. I have learned the hard way from not listening to guidance that when I run like a racecar my autoimmune issues resurface and I do not want to drive down that path again.

I am thinking that perhaps the need to slow down in the midst of the craziness of reality has probably contributed to the sensation of a speeding summer. The last few months have found me preparing for all kinds of changes in my professional life – learning new programs, preparing for my web-site to go live and plans for expansion. All of these things bring feelings of instability. Oh, us humans and change! I know, I know, there are those magnificent humans who thrive on change but it does seem that a lot of us are lumped into that “I hate change” category. It doesn’t help that when we make changes to one area of our life, ripples of transformation intrude into all the other areas. It cannot be helped because everything is intricately interwoven.

My old pattern of behavior that I have clung to since I was young has only complicated matters for me. Maybe you can relate. I have this part of myself that wants definitive outcomes about almost everything. When I get caught up in this train of thought I get a bit obsessive about things. This totally drains the life force energy out of me. Energy that – Oh, I don’t know – I could be using to do something magnificently creative and fun. I think the advice to slow down always comes in when I am DOING too much instead of BEING. The doing too much is that obsessive control voice in my head that says constantly, “You must do this and this and this in order for everything to work out perfectly.” Perfectly – no such thing is there?

So, when I asked my guidance what would help me to stop doing things the OLD WAY and embrace a new way of doing things that flows directly from being present each moment, I was delightfully surprised by the answer I received. The other morning when in that state just before waking I heard, “Sweetheart, you must live each day as if you were camping.”

Well, metaphorically speaking camping means a temporary situation. “Brilliant,” I thought when I finally sprung to consciousness, “incredibly simple but brilliant!” It really is because this statement can be pulled right out of Buddhism 101. The statement made me realize how many outcomes I was rigidly attached to. I clearly saw how I was stopping the flow of energy all around me by trying to force things to happen in a particular way. Life really is more like surfing waves because there are no guarantees so acceptance of what is and what comes is the needed agility and balance to keep me on that surf board no matter what kind of waves move in.

Camping is temporary and if we can say, “Well for right now I can tentatively plan for A, B or C,” life would flow instead of jolt us around. It’s like this, maybe we will have fish for supper if we catch one or perhaps we will just have foraged plants and berries. I can be OK either way because either way I am receiving nourishment. Or perhaps it is raining and I can sit in my tent and journal today or maybe I can pull down my tent, drive to a new locale with sunny skies and pitch my tent there. Either way is OK because I am still using the time wisely. I am flowing with life. Now, it does not mean that I cannot actively create what I want in some way. One does this by visualizing what one wants and completely giving it up to the Universe without that knee jerk drive to try and control it and without being attached to a definitive outcome.

In fact, what comes my way will probably be less to my liking if I am demanding a specific outcome. If I am fluid and accepting, what I manifest will be more delicious and exciting because I put my order in but I left room for the Universe to work its magic. In thinking that I absolutely know what is best for me, I close myself off from the magic because I am visualizing from a limited self. Michael Beckwith has a great mantra that he suggests in his Visioning CDs. It is, “I am drawing more good towards myself than I can even imagine.”  WOW! That’s powerful! So now, I am going to stop trying to force everything, grab my camping gear and open myself up to some real Universe Magic!

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The Still Small Steps http://spiritofagape.com/the-still-small-steps/ http://spiritofagape.com/the-still-small-steps/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 05:11:06 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1039 Feeling my footing Swaying back and forth A fulcrum of […]

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Feeling my footing
Swaying back and forth
A fulcrum of bone
Wrapped in Achilles’ vulnerability
Until fully planted
One foot at a time
Rebalancing, securing
Rebalancing, securing
Uncertain of a certain destination
But trusting the still, small steps

Trusting the still, small steps is not always an easy thing to do is it? In a security obsessed culture filled with rules, regulations, retirement plans and insurance policies for all kinds of situations, taking steps into the unknown can be terrifying. We want so much to feel safe and secure. And although the physic’s Law of Entropy dictates that change is the name of the game on our beautiful planet, many humans cringe at the prospect of venturing out. And yet, very often change is exactly what we need in order to grow and mature as human beings. So, when we find ourselves having to look for a new job, deal with a challenging health situation, cope with heartache from a relationship loss or any kind of dramatic shift in routine, we can become frozen with fear.

Once we habituate into a fear pattern, the ghosts in our subconscious mind surface to remind us of exactly why we should be very much afraid to step out. These persistent thoughts that arise in a seemingly demonic fashion can continually pull the rug out from under our feet as we attempt to find our footing. And these thoughts can seem to be experts at sabotage, employing all kinds of means from tales of unworthiness to visions of destitution and ruin. They truly are the Achilles’ heel of growth and development and we can easily become enveloped and identified with their stories leaving us stuck in a kind of limbo state.

What can complicate matters is the fact that sometimes the place where we think we want to go seems so very far off in the distance and, in many cases it is not a definitive place or situation but more like an idea or even a state of mind or emotion. This, of course, adds fuel to the feeling of uncertainty and if you are a person who craves absolute certainty then you can be sure those demon thoughts are going to have a field day messing with your mind and emotions.

I am going to propose to you all that the vagueness of destination, in and of itself, is not a bad thing and I am sure I will get some arguments here but please hear me out. When we lock ourselves too much into a desire for absolute certainty we become too attached to a specific outcome. This attachment leads to extreme desire focused in one direction and this creates a kind of rigidity that does not allow events and opportunities to “flow” into our lives in a healthy fashion. I am not saying that we should not envision a future goal but when we do envision a goal we should be open minded about the end result to some extent. A good mantra to use is, “I am open to more good than I can even imagine.” This opens doorways to all kinds of possibilities that can stimulate tremendous growth and allow magic to flow into our lives. It also helps to feel positive emotions like gratitude, peace and joy while we are visualizing. And isn’t life supposed to be joyful and magical? Is it not joy and magic that inspires us to create meaningful lives not only for ourselves but also for others and for the planet?

So, how do we rest in the uncertainty of what is coming and still keep ourselves grounded so we are able to act on the opportunities when they come into our lives?  Like I said, loosely visualizing what our hearts want and feeling how we wish to feel is the first step. Making this a daily activity is very helpful. But, just looking far off into the future can be frightful and overwhelming so we need a practice that can get us to that goal while helping us to find our footing along the way. We need to find those still, small steps by moving forward one small step at a time. The daily visualizing stirs the ethers of the Universe lining up opportunities and resources that will begin to present themselves like stepping-stones over a river. We must be vigilant and begin to take steps while pausing to check in with our intuition along the way. “Does this feel good?” “What does my gut say about this?” or “How do I feel about this person?” These are all good questions to ask ourselves. The intuition check is the rebalancing and securing that we need to grab a firm hold as we navigate from step to step. We will find that when we do this a beautiful sense of self-trust begins to develop. We also will realize that we are not alone on our journey and that the Universe really does have our best interest in mind. The right people, resources and opportunities do show up, we just have to begin to trust ourselves and act on them knowing that these still, small steps will bring us to what we desire and perhaps something even more magnificent than what we imagined.

 

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I Am Enough http://spiritofagape.com/i-am-enough/ http://spiritofagape.com/i-am-enough/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 05:11:48 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1036 I have found myself in that place again — that place of […]

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I have found myself in that place again — that place of unrealistic expectations. Have you ever been there? The inner voice that cracks the whip? It is a very familiar voice. I have known it and had to listen to it all of my life. I am not unique in this. It is part of being human. It is kind of a protective guardian gone haywire. I truly believe that this voice thinks it has my best interest but I have found it to be the grand saboteur of all that is good. It truly strips me of my power and never makes me feel good about myself.

Since I have consciously embarked on my spiritual path and have been using the practice of mindful meditation, I have found myself in periods of tremendous serenity but somehow I seem to fall back here again on occasion. When I find myself in this emotional and mental state I am quite resistant and the whole concept of acceptance seems to go out the window. I call this state the abyss because it is quite unpleasant, dense and low in vibration. When I am here, I find myself trying to push it away. This pushing away action is called aversion in Buddhist philosophies. It is when we push at something in our experience because we DO NOT WANT IT. It is the opposite of acceptance and if I have found one thing to be most helpful it is acceptance. So, right now I am taking some very deep breaths to ground myself and perhaps bring myself a little bit closer to acceptance. Acceptance is surrendering to what is. When we accept the emotions, feelings and thoughts, allowing them to come and then to pass, we become more resilient and more responsible. It is, of course, important to honor why the feelings and thoughts are showing up to begin with and mindfulness is what helps with this. When we sit with mindful presence, breathing into and creating space around the places in our body where we are holding these feelings and thoughts then we open up to the possibility of discovering why they are present to begin with and this allows us to accept them for what they are.

Very often there is some kind of fear behind them. I know for me I am afraid to move forward in some areas of my life and so there is a part of me that allows the negative voices to make their demands. I know I have to really decide what is important to me — believing the old stories that make me feel less than or letting these stories go, facing my fears and embarking on my path in life. Sounds like an easy choice doesn’t it? But we humans are very complex beings with layers of beliefs that don’t always benefit us and often times seem to sneak up on us subconsciously. I say seem because as we grew up we developed patterns of behavior that became habits and we have become oblivious to many of these habits so they seem to almost have a life of their own at times.

I have learned, sometimes the hard way, to be kind to myself when I fall into the abyss again. I am taking some more deep breaths right now. In and out…feels good. Oh, and I even let out a good laugh at the absurdity of it all. Laughter is very helpful indeed. So, here I am, loving myself even though this is where I am, in the abyss. Loving myself and accepting does not mean that I have to believe the stories. I just need to acknowledge or be aware of them. Sounds kind of simple but it is extremely powerful. Just be aware of them and then let them move all the while telling myself a new story like, “I am enough just the way I am. There is nothing to fix. I am enough.” It is this practice of awareness that over time allows us to fall into the abyss less frequently because we begin to catch ourselves before we fall. We begin to recognize the thought habits that used to sneak up on us and trigger us emotionally. Awareness, acceptance and a great deal of self-compassion is the recipe that helps us to move through these difficult emotional states.

It will probably happen again. I will fall short and find myself in resistance and self-judgment again. I am human after all. At these times of falling short, the thing I need most is acceptance and self-compassion and more self-compassion and more! And the reminder that I am enough.

Many Blessings to You,
Shari

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Ruffling Feathers http://spiritofagape.com/ruffling-feathers/ http://spiritofagape.com/ruffling-feathers/#comments Sat, 01 Mar 2014 06:11:11 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1032 The silver, gray form jumped onto the suspended cylinde […]

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The silver, gray form jumped onto the suspended cylinder and swung to and fro using tremendous dexterity and all his might to keep from tumbling to the Earth below. “Clumsy,” was the word that first came to mind followed by, “that bugger!” But I found myself more and more entranced until I was cheering wholeheartedly for the furry rascal that had ingeniously infiltrated my precious bird feeder. I guess he didn’t get the memo that the odd looking device filled with sunflower delights was strictly for the feathered creatures. Oddly, the birds were less agitated than I was by the abrupt feeder assault. They all just flew up to the trees and waited patiently for the intruder to grow tired of his acrobatic antics.

All in all I found myself mesmerized as I watched the squirrel and the whole scene brought up a wave of emotions that have been hijacking my precious awareness as of late. My life is in a major transition and, like so many people in such a state of flux, I oftentimes find myself swimming in energetic pools of anxiety and fear. Most of us humans do not like change. This is too bad because change is the name of the game on this planet and honestly, I really do think that change is a good thing. It would be wonderful if I could convince the part of me that is concerned with safety and security. Maybe you know what I am talking about. It’s that little voice inside that sends out alarm bells as soon as I venture out into uncharted territory and it seems to employ subconscious military defense tactics in it’s pursuit to prevent my desired advancement.

Watching the little gray thief twisting, turning and contorting on the feeder made me realize something else about myself and again, maybe some of you can relate. I realized that I have grown up as someone who does not like to shake things up too much and I also seem to be extremely rule oriented. I think many Americans could fall into the “not wanting to break the rules” category. We live in a society that is defined by too many rules and regulations and always overshadowed by the threat of legal litigation.

I am not even sure I would have become aware of this personal thorn in my side had I not been married to a risk taker and rule breaker. My husband comes from an ethnic background that seems to excel at the task of rule breaking. I find the topic of ethnic groups very intriguing. We can look at them like a collective persona of sorts. Similar to individual personalities, the collectives often have attributes and traits that are at times a benefit and at other times a hindrance. I remember visiting Greece, the country where my in-laws were from, many many years ago and laughing at how frequently there was this disregard for rules. I even noticed that too often there were no rules in place for situations that here in America it would be unheard of.

I suppose the lack of rules could be a problem if the person wielding the rule breaking characteristics had absolutely no moral compass but given a good sense of integrity I have come to see this little Greek trait as very admirable indeed. It certainly has served my husband well all these years and I have watched him carefully use it with much finesse.

My squirrel friend is a reminder to me of this very same finesse. An opportunist he is! Why should he miss out on a fine meal of sunflower seeds in the middle of winter? We can learn so much from watching nature.

So, as I embark on my major life transition I am going to put myself out there and I invite any of you rule-obsessed readers to do the same. I am not going to be afraid to ruffle some feathers so to speak as I make my trek into that uncharted territory.

Wishing you all a delightful March filled with many risk-taking opportunities as we usher in the season of Spring.

Shari

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Death, Rebirth and Winter http://spiritofagape.com/death-rebirth-and-winter/ http://spiritofagape.com/death-rebirth-and-winter/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 06:11:03 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1029 Winter is an interesting season. I confess it is not my […]

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Winter is an interesting season. I confess it is not my favorite time of year and that very well may stem from the fact that it follows on the footsteps of December, a month that ushers in all kinds of rushing, intensity, and darkness, deep darkness. When I was younger I used to stay up late. I was a night owl and I would sleep away the morning sunshine. I was not afraid of the dark back then. I thrived in it. Now as I am middle aged I crave the sunshine. If you had told me that I would be a morning person when I got older, I would have laughed. But nothing is permanent is it? Everything changes.

With the craziness of December, I marked a milestone birthday right before the New Year and found myself relapsing into my autoimmune issues. It had been some time since I physically felt that bad. And feeling all that bad dredged up all kinds of fears. When in fear mode I usually am visited by some pretty intense and sometimes frightening dreams. So, in Buddhist fashion, I have been doing a lot of sitting meditation because I have found that the only way to deal with these fears is to confront them and move through them. I was reading a delightful book from Jack Kornfield called “The Wise Heart” and in it he suggests sitting with the fear of death. The whole thought of such a thing at first seemed quite overwhelming indeed but I was gradually warming up to it. Besides what better time of the year to contemplate death than winter? It is the season of death, is it not?  So, I got up the nerve today because my anxieties were particularly strong.

I sat and focused on the thought, “I am about to die.” I breathed into that thought. I allowed thoughts to come and go as I began to slowing relax into the thought. I was quite surprised by what happened next. Very surprised! All of a sudden, I was intensely experiencing all of my favorite Earthly experiences.

I was on the beach simply running sand through my toes. I was at the pet store whistling to the gorgeous finches and laughing hysterically as they tilted their heads this way and that in order to comprehend the sounds. I was petting and hugging my dog. I was lying down and feeling tremendous appreciation for the exquisite husband that I have. I was singing at the top of my lungs and boy, did it sound heavenly, and even better, I was deliciously drinking in the tones. I was in the woods hugging my favorite tree. My son was with me and I was kissing him on his head where his scar is from his car accident 5 years ago. I was laughing at my daughter’s impersonation of my dog’s anxious face. My hands were deep in clay on a pottery wheel and I was delighted because I had managed to center it right away!

One by one by one, images, feelings, smells, tastes, sounds permeated my very being. It was like I was experiencing these things for the first time. I also realized that, as of lately, I just have not been present in my life and definitely not appreciating the little, wonderful moments that fill us up. In fact, I had been one of those whiners, remember the Saturday Night Live skit, yes, well, that was me. Perhaps this explains the relapse.

Finally, I saw 2 images. One was a cake with Mickey Mouse and the background was black. Cakes for me represent goals one is striving for. Mickey for me means finding humor and acceptance of life’s irritations and difficulties. The black represented all of the negativity I have been wallowing in. Be in the moment, fluff off the irritations and appreciate the interplay of your very being with life is what it said. Then I saw a stadium which, for me, means stop observing and get out there and live your life. Do it with Mickey by your side. Laugh at your predicaments.

OK, message received!! It seems that for the last 2 months, I had already been dead of sorts. I was not here anyway! I made a pact to wake up each morning this February and make note of what I truly love and then catch myself throughout the day making sure that I savor some of these magical things that are very much indeed a part of my life.

I will end this with some loving kindness sent your way.

May you truly see, feel, hear, taste and know the tremendous beauty that surrounds you every day. May you find ways, in spite of life’s challenges, to remember the delicious moments that stir your soul.

And may you have a Healthy and Happy New Year!!

God Bless, Much Love,
Shari

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A Trip Through the Heart http://spiritofagape.com/a-trip-through-the-heart/ http://spiritofagape.com/a-trip-through-the-heart/#comments Fri, 01 Nov 2013 05:11:05 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1024 “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart and yo […]

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“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” — Kahlil Gibran

The heart is a very perplexing phenomenon. I say phenomenon because throughout history the heart has been seen as the gateway to our emotions, a purveyor of magnetism, the administrator of love, a muse of artistic endeavor, just that old ticker that pumps blood around, and many more interpretations which are often plagued by paradox and confusion. But, when another human being speaks of a broken heart, most of us know exactly what he or she is talking about. It just plain old hurts and sometimes there are no words or verifiable descriptions to give it credence.

I am discovering that it is sometimes best to just “feel” instead of trying to understand all the whys and the hows. But, just feeling can be a daunting task. It is challenging indeed when something we have cherished deeply has been taken from us or when we have to let go of a cherished thing because we knew that it was not ours to keep forever and that releasing it was the best decision (not the easiest or most desired but the best.)

The feeling is one of profound emptiness, an emptiness that threatens to swallow us whole at times. All of this is happening while we have to pretend to be fine in order to function and perform the tasks demanded by our 3D reality. It is far easier to put up that wall in front of the ticker and send that sorrow into a well of repression.

I, like many humans, have done that very thing for most of my life. When we do this, we easily fall prey to anger, seeing ourselves as victims and thereby blaming everyone and everything that seems appropriate for taking away our “cherished thing.” Being human, I have found myself wallowing deep in the angry waters and succumbing to victim mode, continually telling my story to whoever will listen (poor souls) just because my ego knows that if I place blame then I will not have to feel that emptiness, that sorrow. I am still catching myself in victim mode but now I am forgiving myself for my humanity when I am aware and I am actively taking the steps to move out of anger. I am doing this because I have learned over the last few years that the story telling creates a parasitic bitterness that eats away at my very core and blinds me from seeing the truth. The truth is that I am weeping for that which has been my delight as Kahlil Gibran reminds us. He says to look again into your heart when you are sorrowful. Don’t put up that wall but look deeply into the sorrow. Sometimes we think we would have been better off without that person, that job, that skill or whatever object of affection has been stripped from our life experience. But look again! Find the treasure. Wallow in the gold! Feel the magic of that BEAUTIFUL thing and appreciate the gifts that it gave you.

We live in a Universe of constant change. It is a Universe of continual birth, death, rebirth, etc. with cycles of expansion and contraction and yet, at the highest level possible everything is eternal, so, in essence, we have lost nothing.

I am choosing to mend my broken heart this time by still cherishing what illusion says I have lost but in truth I have always had and will always have with me.

Lots of love to you all.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving,

Shari

 

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Tempering Steel http://spiritofagape.com/tempering-steel/ http://spiritofagape.com/tempering-steel/#comments Tue, 01 Oct 2013 05:11:48 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1018 The second heating process reduces the hardness a littl […]

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The second heating process reduces the hardness a little but toughens the steel. It also significantly reduces brittleness of the steel so that it does not break easily.

Tempering: Taking something very hard and treating it with heat but just the right amount of heat in order to make it stronger or more durable. Tempering in itself brings in a type of fluidity and allowance for endurance that otherwise is not attainable with brittle hardness.

I have realized recently that all things, even our physical hardships arise in order to bring heightened awareness to the surface. The “state,” the dis-ease, the perplexity of symptoms that I have tossed around, semi-digested and regurgitated over and over again from doctor to therapist, from meditation to dream state to emotional expulsion is not unique to me.

And now that I am being taxied closer and closer to exacting what it is and putting some kind of label on it, I think, “Ahh, now that I know what it is…..”

OK, so what? Perhaps you can imagine. And I am sure a lot of you can because most of us are plowing through our stuff with a desire to get the really challenging stuff either “away from me” or “over with” so we can arrive at some sort of destination. I used to be like that, “Oh I can’t wait to become more enlightened, more self aware,” like it is some kind of place — a Disneyland of sorts where all my troubles would fade away and I would drown in some kind of sweet tasting serenity.

Dealing with a chronic condition, especially one that I wanted to tuck away and pretend that it did not exist, has made me realize that awareness happens on the journey and it is through awareness and acceptance of everything that a lovely serenity begins to surface.

So, this morning I schlepped over to my meditation chair to engage in some Life Visioning, Michael Beckwith style. Mr. Beckwith has a wonderful meditation where one asks, “How is God seeking to express itself through me?” Then one asks, “What do I need to become or let go of in order to allow this expression to take place?” There are other questions as well but the premise is that the one must make oneself completely aware and accessible to what the higher self has to say. Michael calls this reverential awareness. Basically, you keep yourself open without judgment to any visions, feelings, thoughts or knowing that might arise.

So, what did I find out as far as what I must become?

I saw 2 very clear images. First, I saw water moving in, out and around everything with ease and a sense of joy. I heard, “Fluidity.” This was no surprise. Water and fluidity have come up many times in my dreams. In a masculine way it means being able to move around and through obstacles. In a feminine way, it means being open-minded and allowing with whatever presents itself in life.

But the second image was a bit of surprise and very masculine in nature. I saw steel and then I saw the steel being heated and shaped by a man who was tending to it lovingly and with a sense of pride. Not an arrogant pride but a loving self-confidence. I heard, “you must be like tempered steel.”

I have struggled with understanding assertiveness all my life. For whatever reason I have always equated it with arrogance and aggression. And because of this erroneous belief, I have repressed anything that might even remotely resemble aggression from expressing itself through me into my world. As a result, I have repressed a great deal of my masculine side. Perhaps you can relate. We humans are masters at repression. I have learned the hard way that what you repress grows and grows inside in an almost demonic way. And why not? It is angry! It has not been allowed to speak.

In my recent attempts to let the young male speak I have been confronted with an awkward immaturity in that area of my life. And why not? That side of me has not been allowed to grow. Now I struggle with accepting the immaturity while allowing the awkward mistakes that must happen in order to learn. I have to make up for some lost time…LOL. All of this frustrates me immensely.

Hmmm. Tempered steel, huh?

I have been asking “why” during all of this.

Well, it is because my male side needs to find a strength that both he and my female side can agree on. Brittle hardness will not do. She does not like it. And I know because I have tried it, fallen down many times but I do keep getting up. And maybe that is the key after all. Maybe that is the tempering process. Just the right amount of heat from enduring “whatever comes” even hardship and embarrassment coupled with a good dose of humility and acceptance. It seems that this makes steel that can stand up to anything. And that sureness of tenacity and endurance builds a kind of faith that fertilizes the growing serenity. I think that this is exactly what is needed for creating a meaningful and useful life.

Tempered steel — sounds about right.

 

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Cetacean Paradise http://spiritofagape.com/cetacean-paradise/ http://spiritofagape.com/cetacean-paradise/#comments Sun, 01 Sep 2013 05:11:10 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1015 The sturdy catamaran named Dolphin Quest heaved forward […]

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The sturdy catamaran named Dolphin Quest heaved forward kissing the waves as it rocked up and down in the delicious Bahamian sunshine. Glancing down my eyes laughed at the sight of legs and feet splashing the ocean as the boat sank into the troughs of the waves. Those very same eyes watching with childlike anticipation for one of our new friends to come charging forward from beneath the sailboat tempting and teasing us with delight like the young one with the agile body darting back and forth or the larger male with the broken fin turning his head so he could make eye contact. I am sure they could hear us ridiculous adults singing sailing tunes and laughing with hysterics when the magical connections were made. Our laughter and delight only seemed to fuel their playfulness.

Memories from my amazing adventure with the dolphins off of the Bimini Islands of the Bahamas fill my mind and heart with joy. I spent a week at a beautiful but sublimely simple resort center in the middle of “nowhere” on a tiny island called North Bimini. My daughter Andreana, my dear friend Christine, her daughter Kayla and I joined a group of about 20 people from different countries – our pod – and we sailed out for 5 days from late morning until dusk to swim with the dolphins.

I am still left speechless by a most incredible experience. Not one of those 5 days was without the company of the enchanting cetaceans. The dolphins are known to feed in the shallows around the Bimini islands by digging into the sand for food. The Atlantic Spotted Dolphin is very playful indeed and seemed quite intrigued by our presence.

The skilled crew from WildQuest Tours has been following the dolphins for 15 years so they have a lot of experience. I imagine the intelligent creatures are quite familiar with the Dolphin Quest catamaran. They playfully romped with us many times while the boat followed them, bobbing in and out from the back to the front of the boat. When the crew felt that the opportunity was ripe for a swim they would stop the boat and see if the dolphins hung around. When given the signal, the clumsy humans clamored to the back of the catamaran toting fins and snorkels and slid, one by one into the big fluid, turquoise expanse. There we were side by side with our new friends who quite joyfully swam with us. Told not to touch them, we very often were surprised by some swimming by in very close proximity.

The Spotted Dolphins are the species that is most approachable and quite acrobatic in these waters. They are slightly more slender and smaller than the well-known Bottlenose Dolphins. During our week out, our human pod probably had around 6 to 7 swims with them. One of those swims took place in a downpour that, apparently, the dolphins love. That day about 30 dolphins hung around delightfully swimming to the surface to feel the rain on their skin.

But we had a surprise that week. The Bottlenose, who typically shy away when humans get into the water, decided to enchant us with their presence. On Tuesday of that week we swam with about 15 of them and they hung around for a bit.

Atmo, one of the owners of WildQuest Tours said that this behavior is new just about this year but that it is still a bit rare. So we were blessed to have them join us for our week.

I was fortunate to have booked a facilitated tour called the Art of Singing with Peter and Aneeta Makena. Peter is a very talented and soulful singer/songwriter (check him out on YouTube or iTunes). Each morning and evening our human pod gathered to sing, dance and get to know each other better. I fell in love with every member of my human pod from my new German friends, the “incredible” Austrian couple, the courageous young Japanese woman and all my new American friends. The retreat center was immaculate, the food was incredible and the staff was wonderful. And, of course, the dolphins were magical beyond words.

I am planning to facilitate a tour possibly in the early summer of 2015. I will be featuring my Group Manifesting classes but I am looking for feedback from people who might be interested in an awesome adventure at sea. I have to fill 20 spots. If this sounds like something you might want to participate in then shoot me an email to let me know.

 

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Vulnerability http://spiritofagape.com/vulnerability/ http://spiritofagape.com/vulnerability/#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2013 05:11:04 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1005 Sometimes it is challenging to know when a relationship […]

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Sometimes it is challenging to know when a relationship is healthy and when it has crossed that line into the unhealthy stage.

The element of trust is a sacred bond, isn’t it? I know for me, I often shy away from initiating such a bond.  Because when I do move forward and make the commitment to open my heart, I know that I have made myself vulnerable.

Vulnerability. Now there’s a word of monumental proportions. Some might say it’s very meaning is steeped in weakness but I have learned, to the contrary, that to allow vulnerability is one of the bravest acts anyone can undertake.

It is a commitment to be real. It is a commitment to pull off the masks that we use to protect us from falling apart.  We think the masks protect us but they are only facades that we hide behind.

To place down the shield and reveal what lies within is a grand leap of faith.

How does one know that the object of one’s deepest trust will honor one’s right to BE without making harsh judgments? How does one know that this person will allow space when space is needed? How does one know that one’s will to act and be authentic will not be twisted and manipulated to fulfill the needs and wants of the other? How does one know that one will be loved, cherished and accepted in spite of the insanity of darkness that, previously hidden from the mask, now openly escapes into the light?

To be vulnerable means to be human to the core. Putting it out there. All of it.

And now,

After I have given it up.

Smashed the mask!

Bled from the inside out –

My dreams, my ambitions,

My loves, my fears,

My guilt, my innocence –

My safety net.

How do I know I will be honored? How do I know I will be safe?

I don’t.

And how do I know, once in the thick of it that the relationship is nourishing and promoting growth not just for me but, just as importantly, for the other as well?

Not such an easy thing to know, is it? Because sometimes what is most nutritious is not necessarily sugar sweet. Sometimes it might taste a little bitter and yet fill the person with exactly what is needed to move into a state of vibrant health.

That is why the choice to make ourselves vulnerable is truly a very brave act indeed. And fear of it is exactly why we humans wall up our hearts, refusing to step out for love. This fear is the very reason we choose to stunt our own growth.

Trust means allowing ourselves to digest the sweet and the bitter while patiently waiting to see evidence of growth. Growth often means shedding one’s fears and allowing empowerment to manifest. It can be a frustrating experience, however, because growth is like an awkward dance routine with two steps forward and one step back. It seems patience is indeed called for, as well as self-reflection and a careful review of the dance steps. For if the dance progresses in a healthy manner there should be a gradual blossoming of joy and genuine empowerment. Otherwise it might be time to move on.

 

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Lost in the Magical Moment http://spiritofagape.com/lost-in-the-magical-moment/ http://spiritofagape.com/lost-in-the-magical-moment/#comments Sat, 01 Jun 2013 05:11:37 +0000 http://spiritofagape.com/wordpress/?p=1002 There really are no words for the joy that I feel when […]

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There really are no words for the joy that I feel when I listen to the birds. What miraculous creatures they are. Yesterday I was off on an Audobon trail and decided to indulge myself on one of those paths. You know “those paths,” the ones that meander off into Neverland and as you wander, you completely lose yourself. This particular path was magical indeed for not only did I happen upon a delightful vernal pool that precipitated an amphibian choral display of grand proportions but somewhere hidden among the oaks, maples, birches and pines was this angelic sound that I had never heard before.

Of course, my first reaction was completely left brained, “Oooh when I get home I will have to search the internet for strange haunting bird sounds.” Nothing like taking the fun out of things and popping me right out of the moment. But, I resigned myself and decided to be a bit more adventurous about things. The last few years of my life I have become particularly adept at trampling my inner child. This is a very dangerous habit I have discovered and only leads to prolonged suffering. So, I decided to take the higher road and invite my inner child to play. We, me and my inner child decided to really listen to this intriguing vocalist and so I stopped and did just that. How do I explain the audio thrill of this creature of the air? I said it was beyond words and like all things precious and divine it was. But my left brain insists on attempting so here goes. The beginning of the call was composed of several crystal clear high-pitched tones which were followed by a most glorious trill that etherically echoed through the forest. It was other worldly.

I was truly mesmerized and my attempts to discover the little singer were met with disappointment. I circled the path of dense woodland like the rat to the piper joyfully wanting more and more. How could something so tiny and elusive produce such a heavenly sound? It was certainly enough to soothe my heavy heart for the day and I made sure to thank the little creature.

Well, as you can imagine, I found myself back home and within bandwidth, very dangerous indeed. I hopped on the internet to discover that I believe my little feathered friend might possibly have been a wood thrush. But please note, bird enthusiasts, that the Cornell Lab recording in no way does the experience justice. There are no echoes ringing through the forest. The trill sound, when heard authentically, live and in person, literally bounces off of the vegetation in some cosmic dance of the senses. Which brings me to a point: In order to find that inner peace and tranquility that many of us long for we need to be present and in the moment. I think I need to hear that again, “We need to be present and in the moment.”

When you truly find what it is that lights you up, that floats your boat, that stimulates your senses and makes your heart dance, you PAY ATTENTION. Paying attention puts you in the moment. Being in the moment takes us out of what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind.” You know, that chitter chatter about what happened before or what might happen soon. The voices in the head that worry, blame and leave us disempowered. Empowerment is a by-product of joy and enchantment. That kind of empowerment heals the wounds of the world. And sometimes it is found in a magical voice hidden in a dense forest.

PS: It is hidden in your passion and wonder. Ask your child to show you the way.

 

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