Everyone is talking about resolutions for a new year - pro or con? Or about goals - pro or con? I prefer the concept of visions. No, not mystic visions, although those are fine too! But as a process of manifestation, I like the idea of creating a vision of not only what I want my life to look like, but how I want it to feel.
Many spiritual teachers talk of using emotions as your guideposts, and I agree. For decades we've heard about, "My gut instinct was...." When you are faced with a decision, for example, and one solution feels better than the other, then that's the one I'd go with. My "higher self" knows what she's doing, mingled in there with all the other spiritual energy and guidance available to me. She communicates with feelings.
When I feel "off" I know that feeling is a message, and I quietly seek the reason behind it. Sometimes there is no actual solution, as it's a temporary energetic imbalance. But sometimes the feeling is related to my thoughts, or something I should not have eaten with food sensitivities, or perhaps something I'm contemplating doing.
I remember what life was like when my feelings were awful and I didn't know that they were symptoms. My creations were usually negative. Many years later, now I have seen the results of using positive feelings to guide me to achieving my visions. And when I feel and express gratitude for my creations, I get more of them!
I like the multi-sensory (i.e. holistic) approach: vision board (literally, vision), aromatherapy, movement (keeping the energy flowing), drawing or writing my goals (kinetic), meditation. These tools allow me to connect with those wiser energies to make my visions, what and who I want to be, with a physical reality.
However you do it, allow yourself to vision for the new year!
I know this is the most honest and personal post I've ever written but it is the time to share in hope that my story may uplift someone else. This, you see, is a story about grief.
In the spring of this year, my closest and dearest friend, my sister-of-the-heart, died suddenly of a heart attack. We had been friends for nearly thirty years, half of my life, and we were far closer than either of us were with our blood family. For all the losses I've had, this was the most difficult I've ever faced.
And worse...tragically the morning after her death, her 43-year-old son took his own life. In one day, I lost two heart-family members. The pain was quite literally overwhelming - I basically shut down. I found myself revisiting those events over and over in disbelief.
My clients were lovely and understanding, however I still had to keep up with their needs, as well as my own. Dear friends were very supportive and helpful, but I couldn't be helpful to myself.
As the months went on, the intensity of the grief, as it always does, gradually eased and life largely went back to normal. However I recently had a strong realization (the one that prompted this writing) how subconsciously I have not been doing as "well" as I thought. My focus and attention to detail have suffered in my work. I've been forgetful and often lose my train of thought. My eating and sleeping habits have changed. I realize that this is normal and will continue to improve, however I still find it a bit disturbing.
The reason I am writing this story now is that I spent the last 15 years of Christmases with my friend and her son, and the intensity of grief has risen again. I am torn between wanting to be alone to feel what I feel, and yet to be part of something loving the way I was with my "family of the heart." I miss the love, the laughter, the goofiness, the generosity and abundance, the music, the coziness, the tradition. But I know that both of them are where they need to be, living in complete unconditional love.
And so, to allow healing, I allow the feelings to come up to release the energy. But I do not now dwell or focus on the tragedies of last April. I acknowledge the loss but I focus instead on the beauty of the season and all I am grateful for.
And so I share this story with you, hoping that anything I have said may help you or someone you know. Accept and honor the pain. Feel it. But just visit, don't live in it. Live instead in all the goodness around you, all that you still have, and above all, focus on love. That's what this season is supposed to be all about.
As my spirituality has developed and the more open I become, the more often I notice synchronicity and signs. And lately I've experienced signs leading to a major life change - here's my story!
This is the second time in recent years in which opportunities for major life change were provided to me - just dropped in my virtual lap. (Read about the first one here.)
After the passing of their mother, friends (Bill and Ellen) contacted me to ask if perhaps I might be interested in moving into their mother's house 2 counties away. I declined due to my life circumstances (job, activities, friends, a lease, etc.). Then one month ago, Bill called, asking again if I would reconsider. Now, I believe when something comes around to you a second time, you'd better pay attention, as the third time might be a spiritual *whack* upside the head! So, I paid attention, talked in detail to Bill, and told him I'd think about it. And let it go.
Over the next few days, I saw countless signs from Spirit that this home was a "setup" - Spirit saying "YOOHOO, this is for YOUUUUU!"
So I gleefully agreed (obviously) to move into my friends' house, with joy and gratitude!
So next step was what to do about the part time job - I needed something closer to the new home. That too was simply handed to me. A client informed me that an associate of hers needed an office manager. The business is very heart-based and serves a great need. I interviewed, it's a great match for both of us, and I will begin work before I move.
These events are still extraordinary to me, absolutely awe-inspiring and joy-making. I am not anything special and have no magical powers, but I do know how I want to feel. And when I focus on those feelings and the physical manifestations of those feelings, THAT's the sweet spot. Try it!
Thanksgiving time allows us to consciously focus on what we most appreciate about our lives. We often think that being grateful means that we appreciate something, however there are subtle but distinct differences between the words “gratitude” and “appreciation.”
When you are thankful or grateful for something, you are reacting to something outside yourself, after it has appeared in your life. You may be grateful to have safe and warm housing, or thankful for a friend’s kind act. You are thankful for a positive experience.
Appreciation arises from gratitude. You can be grateful for something but not especially appreciate it. Appreciation more fully connects us with our soul – we CREATE the positive experience.
For example, think of your last meal. Were you grateful to have it? Thankful that you were able to purchase and prepare the food? Take it one step further. Did you fully appreciate the meal, in that moment? Did you savor the aroma, the colors and textures? Were you aware of yourself interacting with the meal in the moment of each bite – how it felt to eat? Now that's appreciation.
As another example, you might be grateful to have a fulfilling career. You give thanks to have the income, the associates, and the work. However, when you truly appreciate that career, you are fully present in each moment, consciously aware of your interactions, enjoying where you are and what you're doing.
Try this as an exercise to really experience the difference between these two concepts.
Stop right now and select something you enjoy having in your life – perhaps a nice view out the window. You’re probably grateful that your home is located where you can see those trees, the neighbor’s garden, and a quiet street. You’re glad that you can afford it.
Now turn to appreciation. Stop and really LOOK out that window. How many different colors are there to enjoy? What movement do you detect – are the trees swaying in the breeze? What do you most enjoy about the view itself? Appreciate the care the neighbor takes with his beautiful garden. Appreciate the birdsong.
Now, can you feel the difference?
Practice more appreciation in your daily life, and you will find much more to appreciate!