Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Steve Jobs quote March 13, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
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For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something . . . almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

~ Steve Jobs

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The agony and the ecstasy August 4, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 1:30 am
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You have been thinking about your future long enough. You may be sick and tired of going around on the same mental loops as you attempt to create something different from the life you currently have. Instead of fighting against the resistance you feel, try letting go of the attachment that you have to any long-term goals. You may be pleasantly surprised at what happens when your mind is freed from previous expectations.
~Rick Levine, Scorpio horoscope for August 3, 2008

This past week I had a glimpse into the life of a manic depressive, with amazing highs followed closely by horrifying lows. It was a 7-day roller coaster ride, and while the highs were magnificent and I definitely would have rather not had the lows, I can see how both ends of the spectrum are part of the fabric of living life fully.

Our summer adventure was an absolute blast. We had a wonderful road trip up and back, listening to recordings of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho’s wonderful journey The Alchemist. Crater Lake was breathtakingly beautiful, even for a second visit. We had a lovely “it’s a small world” experience by running into a former co-worker of mine shortly after our arrival at the rim. Our campsite was somewhat exposed, but we ended up not having many neighbors so it felt very private. We were captivated by the geology of the mountain and even ended up going to my first ever campfire circle to learn as much as we could about how the lake was formed. We absolutely fell in love with Ashland and can’t wait to go back when we have plenty of time to dawdle. Our B&B, Morical House Garden Inn, was gorgeous and comfortable with a wonderfully welcoming innkeeper and yummy-smelling breakfast included. We didn’t end up tasting said breakfast as we opted to revisit a wonderful little restaurant we discovered driving home from our honeymoon two years ago, Morning Glory. In addition to having some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life, it’s a cozy, comfortable, homey spot that just makes you feel good from the inside out. All in all, a fabulous vacation.

The trouble began when we arrived back home. Normally I’m thrilled to be home, and I was looking forward to an evening with just my cats as my husband had plans to go out that night. But I was antsy, feeling like I’d rather still be on vacation. I fell into some old patterns, which I later recognized was me looking for a way to make myself feel better that felt familiar instead of doing something centering and grounding. The next couple of days were a downward spiral of a pretty severe funk, aggravated by discovering a cockroach in one of our kitchen cabinets and having the hot water heater go kaput. Every time I’d start to think I was pulling out of the funk, something else would happen to send me back down again.

What I recognize now is that my sense of where I was (too small, now dirty-feeling apartment, not enough money coming in, not getting paid to do the work I was born to do, not liking my body or my wardrobe, etc.) compared to my sense of where I want to be (work that enables me to share my gifts with the world, spacious and comfortable home with plenty of room to grow into, large income that supports all of our needs and desires with plenty to share with others, active lifestyle that keeps me lean and full of energy, etc.) was extremely out of alignment. My energy was all stuck in judgment and resistance, the result of which was several days of misery.

Thankfully, today was the day when I got to turn it all around. I’d just had the opportunity to tell a coaching client last weekend that the great thing about a spiritual practice is that you’re building a foundation for your life. While the analogy of building muscles can be useful, the good news here is that unlike your muscles, stopping the spiritual workout does not mean you have to start over from scratch–the muscles don’t deteriorate in your absence. It doesn’t take much–a five minute meditation, a repetition of your mantra, singing a verse of a chant–to get you reconnected to your Source. Pulling a couple of tools out of my toolbox this morning, I was able to move myself into a place of peace and acceptance. Not only to I no longer feel stuck, I feel like I am soaring and free. I’m calling today my New Year’s Day because I feel like I just hit the reset button. It’s a new year, clean and open and full of possibilities. And I’m thrilled to get to live each of its days as fully as I know how. Namaste.

Photo: A shot of our breakfast table at Morning Glory in Ashland, OR

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Unwritten June 24, 2008

Filed under: music — jennsheridan @ 9:29 pm
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I’ve been hearing this catchy pop song on the radio for a couple of years now, but didn’t notice the lyrics until a few weeks ago. When I did, I knew I’d found another winner. Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” is the kind of song I can easily overlook. I mean, I’ll find myself bopping along in the car when I hear it, but it’s of a style that doesn’t usually go with a lot of depth. It’s good to be wrong every now and again — helps to keep me open!

This song is a great way to look at life, and to me, really, the only way to truly live life successfully. It’s all about recognizing that you’re in the driver’s seat. No one can live your life for you, and honestly, you wouldn’t want them to — no one would be able to do it better than you can. And never forget that every day is a new day — if you don’t like where yesterday led you then choose something different today. So get out there, live a little, stretch yourself. Release those inhibitions, feel the rain on your skin . . .

Artist: Natasha Bedingfield
Song: Unwritten
Albums: Unwritten; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Website: http://www.natashabedingfield.com/
More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natasha_Bedingfield
Video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=4lFXy5bIiSA

I am unwritten,
Can’t read my mind
I’m undefined
I’m just beginning
The pen’s in my hand
Ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten, yeah

Oh, oh

I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines, oh yeah yeah
We’ve been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can’t live that way oh, oh

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open

Feel the rain on your skin
No on else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
the rest still unwritten

(Gospel)
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten

 

Things that make you go hmmm… June 12, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 11:42 pm
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So many very cool articles and videos have come my way this week. As one friend mentioned, you can actually FEEL the shift happening right now, in this very moment. Very cool stuff. I’d like to share just two of the many inbound messages I’ve received along with a poem that feels very appropriate to the times from my dear “friend” Hāfez.

One Minute Shift
The Institute of Noetic Sciences has a website with one-minute videos dedicated to the concept of “shift.” It’s part of their Shift In Action program, which I just happen to be a member of. I viewed a handful of these videos today — you really can’t go wrong, they’re great little slices of inspiration — and my favorite was one by Marianne Williamson talking about how you don’t need a majority to change the world, you just need 11%.

You can view the video at http://oneminuteshift.com/videos/eleven_percent.

Obama as Lightworker
I really never thought I’d see the day when a political candidate of any kind was called a lightworker, especially not a presidential candidate. And while yes, it’s the San Francisco Chronicle, and yes, it’s an editorial, it was still pretty amazing reading this article. What do you think, are you a believer?

Awake Awhile
by Hāfez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Awake awhile.

It does not have to be
Forever,
Right now.

One step upon the Sky’s soft skirt
Would be enough.

Hafiz,
Awake awhile.
Just one True moment of Love
Will last for days.

Rest all your elaborate plans and tactics
For Knowing Him,
For they are all just frozen spring buds
Far,
So far from Summer’s Divine Gold.

Awake, my dear.
Be kind to your sleeping heart.
Take it out into the vast fields of Light
And let it breathe.

Say,
“Love,
give me back my wings.
Lift me,
lift me nearer.”

Say to the sun and moon,
say to our dear Friend,

“I will take You up now, Beloved,
On that wonderful Dance You promised!”

Photo: “Glimpse,” originally uploaded by Bev Sykes

 

Reconnecting May 27, 2008

“When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
~Will Rogers

We all have those moments, days, weeks where it feels like we can’t keep up, we aren’t centered or grounded, we’re separated from Source. I don’t know about you, but when it happens to me, I have this sense that it will require a grand gesture to turn it around. Missed a few days of meditation? Then I must need an hour-long meditation plus two more hours of spiritual practice to catch back up. And then when I don’t have the time or make the time for such a long practice, I judge myself as lacking and sink deeper into the darkness.

The thing is, of course, we’re never completely closed off from Source and no matter how disconnected we feel, reconnection is literally only a breath away. Once the awakening has begun, once you’ve had a taste of the experience of your deep connection to Source, it doesn’t take much to bring you back there. Here are a few simple tools you can use throughout your day to either help you remain connected or reconnect you as needed:

Breathing. We are constantly breathing, in and out, all day long, each and every day. It is something we are generally unconscious of, but try bringing your consciousness to this natural process, recognizing with each breath that you are alive in this moment, right now. Do this for a few moments or a few minutes, depending on where you are and how much time you have. It’s amazing how this simple technique can bring you quickly back to yourself, to you as observer, as awareness, to the now.

Be Here Now. The key to happiness is to stay present in this moment. I find that a simple mantra can work wonders in helping me remain present when I find my mind wandering into past and future events. I’ve been using “Be Here Now” recently, although any mantra will work. I’ve also been playing with the idea that whatever I am doing right now, it is my life’s purpose to be doing it, and so I remind myself of that as I work. It is a great way to turn any activity into a meditation and almost always brings me up out of whatever dark thoughts were trying to take hold in my mind into the space of light and peace that is always available in the now.

Music. Listening to music can be a quick and easy way to reconnect. Our bodies are energy and we are all vibrating. Music is also a vibration, and when the two vibrations meet, we can experience a deep harmony. I know for me there are a few tracks that from the first note I feel myself transported. If you don’t already know what works for you in this way, I recommend exploring the many examples that are available these days developed with the intention of positively affecting people’s vibration. My current favorite is Jonathan Goldman’s Waves of Light, although I also enjoy the Brainwave Suite and the second track of Kelly Howell’s Retrieve Your Destiny. The Globe Institute for Sound Therapy & Healing is a great resource as well. They have a collection of CDs available in their store with demos for you to sample. When you visit their website, they have a selection playing, “Awakening,” that instantly transports me, and I often leave the page open in the background while I’m working so that I can stay in that sense of the divine no matter what I’m doing.

Nature. If you have a wee bit more time, try connecting with the natural world. If there’s a park or a forest nearby, go for a short walk. Try taking off your shoes, feeling the grass or dirt beneath your feet. Connecting with the earth directly is a quick and easy way to literally ground yourself through the earth’s energy. When you don’t have nature readily at hand, try observing the flora and fauna around you. Flowers in a vase, a house plant, a pet, a bird outside your window — take a few moments to really experience these examples of life that can be found just about everywhere, using each of your senses. You may feel how they radiate energy just like you do. Or you may just notice their simple beauty. Whatever comes up for you, the natural world provides so many examples of the essence of life that it can become a great way for you to reconnect with your own sense of that essence within you.

The key here is really it only takes a moment to remember what it is we already know–that we are one with the Source of all life and that the only moment that truly is is this one. When we come into that awareness, we are in contact with the power of the universe, with the divine. Try playing with a few of these tools this week, maybe by setting up a reminder alarm to go off a few times throughout the day or by using them when you start to feel yourself slipping into unconsciousness. I think you’ll find it only takes a moment to turn your day around. Good luck, have fun, and let me know how it goes! Namaste.

Photo: “That my life would depend on the morning sun,” originally uploaded by ThunderChild the Magnificent

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A New Earth — A New Earth May 22, 2008

Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the tenth and final week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

“I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through–listen to this music.”
~Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky

For whatever reason–resistance, the timing of the Universe is perfect, etc.–it has taken me over a week (two, if you count my trying to watch it on the plane to Georgia) to watch the final week of the A New Earth web event. And I’m kind of glad it did. It’s given me time to really soak this one up, to savor it, linger over it, which seems appropriate for a finale. Eckhart was his usual jovial self but Oprah seemed a little sad to have it all come to an end. I look forward to watching her continue to grow and unfold, to see where life continues to lead her.

My favorite part
I loved the way Oprah put the “what to call God” problem. She said something to the effect of, Spirit doesn’t have an ego so it doesn’t get hung up on what it’s called. Yes!

How to stay present
At one point Oprah shared that her mantra (my word, not hers) is, “Be here, be now.” She repeats it to herself as a reminder to be present. Mine is very similar, “Be Here Now.” I’m not sure why it needs to be capitalized, but that is how it shows up in my head. It’s almost like the words get dropped into my mind one by one, each word their own reminder. Be. Here. Now.

Growing older, growing wiser
One of the most striking concepts in this chapter for me was how all of this applies to growing old. As I’m sure we all do, I know many people who have so identified with what they DO that growing old has been a tragedy for them. Each responsibility they can no longer manage, each task they can no longer perform, is like an arrow through their heart. The process is nothing but pain, nothing but regret, and they spend their time either complaining, focusing solely on what’s wrong, or lost in nostalgia. However for others, they begin to recognize that there is so much more to life than just the doing. It is through having the doing reduced in their life that they recognize the presence and importance of being. They grow lighter, freer, and end up with a luminescent quality. These individuals have been rarer in my life, but are such lights when you come across them. I know which way I’d rather be, but I don’t want to wait until I’m old–I want to start today! (See the poem I posted this morning for further exploration of this subject.)

What you do is always secondary
There was just something about the way this concept was reiterated in this webcast that got me. What you do is always secondary; how you do it is primary. You want to know how to fulfill your destiny? Do whatever it is you are doing, no matter how seemingly large or small, completely and utterly consciously, full of presence. No what where you are, whether you’re mailing a package at the post office, waiting tables at a restaurant, washing up after breakfast, bring your Presence with you. That’s what showing up and fulfilling your destiny looks like. Placing the plate down on the table in front of your customer with full awareness, consciousness, presence, affects everyone around you. It doesn’t matter what it is you are doing–if you are doing it consciously, you are bringing more Presence into the world and playing your role in the greater awakening of the planet.

Goals and visions
This is one of those concepts I’ve been working with for over 15 years, but I feel like it was presented to me brand new. Your goal, your vision, is not something “out there” that is in the future. It lives within you as if it were already a reality, because on some level it already is. It isn’t a goal you are projecting yourself into, something you will reach someday. It isn’t something coming from a place of neediness or scarcity, it is coming from a place of fullness, the way it would feel if you already had it. Because it is something that already exists within you, ready to be born into form in your life. Eckhart talked about writing The Power of Now in this fashion. He sensed that there was a book within him that had already been written. His job, then, was just to allow this already completed construct to come out of him, to manifest itself. This is where true power lies, because all power exists in the present moment. It is about always focusing on this step, just this step. Whatever this moment is, it is a step on the journey.

Acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm
The key point to this chapter (to me, anyway) is that it is time to choose to do everything with acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm. If you cannot operate from one of these three modalities, you are not in alignment with the present moment, with yourself, with life, and you are causing yourself and/or those around you suffering. So the question to always ask yourself is, what is my relationship with the present moment? Am I okay with this moment, friendly with it? If yes, then you are empowered. If no, then ask yourself what you can do to move towards acceptance. It may be that you need to stop doing whatever it is you’re doing, step aside and into something that you can accept. Or you may be able to find acceptance just through becoming aware of where you are, consciously shifting your attention towards recognizing that this moment is what it is. You don’t have to enjoy changing a tire, but when you accept that the tire is flat and changing it is what needs to be done, as opposed to resisting it, cursing it, getting upset with it, etc., then you will be able to find peace in the experience.

I loved what Eckhart had to say about enjoyment, that it will replace wanting. Wanting comes from a place of lack, and when you get whatever it is you were wanting, you feel empty and unfulfilled. Enjoyment, however, leaves you feeling full. It brings empowerment to what you do, flowing through you and allowing creativity to be born in what you are doing. Joy does not come from what you do, from another person, from outside of you in any way–it comes from within, flowing out of you into the world around you.

So my exercise for this week, and yours too, if you so choose, is to pay attention to where I am and see if I can shift the energy. If I feel like I’m in resistance, fighting the moment, then it is time for me to move into acceptance. If it’s something I’m already able to accept, then I can make a game out of it, find a way to turn that acceptance into enjoyment. And if it’s something I’m already able to enjoy, then I can look for that extra something that reminds me this moment is a step towards manifesting my vision and allow enthusiasm to come into play. The new earth already exists within us. Our job now is to allow it to come through us, to be made manifest in form in our lives. Namaste.

Photo: “Dream,” originally uploaded by Jan McLaughlin

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A New Earth — Your Inner Purpose May 7, 2008

Filed under: a new earth — jennsheridan @ 8:29 pm
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Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the ninth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

“There is always only this one step, and so you give it your fullest attention. This doesn’t mean you don’t know where you are going; it just means this step is primary, the destination secondary. And what you encounter at your destination once you get there depends on the quality of this one step.”
~Eckhart Tolle,
A New Earth

This chapter, Your Inner Purpose, was by far my favorite in A New Earth. Don’t get me wrong, the whole book, this whole web event series, has been wonderful, but this one spoke to a deep place in my soul. My apologies for continuing to be a week behind the live class, but I really wanted to give this chapter the time and attention it deserved.

I think this whole chapter can be summed up by my favorite expression: “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” I love how Eckhart talks about this concept, gives it his own spin and increases my own understanding of it. He speaks of inner purpose and outer purpose. Your inner purpose is about BEING, is about awakening, and is always primary. Your outer purpose is about DOING, and is always secondary. When we usually talk about our life’s purpose, we are talking about the doing, and almost without fail we have placed this doing in the future. True purpose is in the present moment, whether it comes from being or doing. Its focus is not on the destination–its focus is on this one step, whatever it is that is occurring right now, in this moment.

I’ve found myself this week becoming aware of what I’m doing in the moment and saying, “My life’s purpose is to be doing this.” So right now, my life’s purpose is to be writing my blog post. Just saying that immediately makes me expand, makes me more aware, enables me to feel my aliveness and allow the words to flow through me and into my fingers. I am one with life and my inner purpose–I am awakening.

I could probably end right there–that AHA! has carried me through the week and I expect I’ll be playing with it for weeks to come. That one concept opens up my field of awareness and makes me feel so energized, so alive, so fully present, and allows me to distance myself from what has been my goal these past few months, which is to uncover my outer purpose. But the thing is, living from the inner purpose IS the path to the outer purpose. As Eckhart says, once you realize that the primary purpose of your life is the inner purpose, to awaken, then the secondary purpose, the outer purpose, falls into place. By being true to life, being true to this moment, the now, life will become helpful, bringing to you whatever is most appropriate in terms of aligning your inner and outer purpose. This is when the synchronicity associated with following your bliss begins to occur and the world shows up for you, supporting you and providing for you.

There may be a period of uncertainty while your inner and outer purpose come into alignment, but that’s the whole thing about life being a journey and not a destination–life is an adventure, full of the unknown and therefore full of possibility. When you embrace the uncertainty, you open the door for opportunities to arise. When you resist the uncertainty, you block the flow from making itself manifest in your experience. I loved when Oprah was talking about letting the light shine through you. An image came to me, that we are here to become translucent and in so doing, we let the light of consciousness or awareness or presence, whatever you choose to call it, shine through. When this light shines through us, then the light becomes fuel for whatever it is we are doing. That’s when we have the full power of the universe available to us.

Eckhart spoke of his writing practice, and it’s one that I want to take into my week and try out for myself. He said that it was never about the end result. If he’d been trying to write a great book whose purpose was to bring awakening to the planet, he would have been getting in his own way. Instead, he was coming from the place of inner stillness. He listened to the voice that told him it was time to write, and sat down with a pen, a notebook, and the stillness. When a thought came to him he would utilize his intellect to review this thought for its truth, for its quality. If it made sense, then he would write it down. If it didn’t, then he would let it go and return to the stillness, allowing the next thought to come. It’s a small moment, focused on the inner purpose, but when those moments stack, what unfolds leads to greatness. Take this attitude, this approach into everything you do this week and watch how it changes the work you are doing. Namaste.

Photo: “Autumn Stream,” originally uploaded by Kimberly

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