Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Birthing May 6, 2009

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 5:26 am
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Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers — strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.
~Barbara Katz Rothman

I suppose it is natural for me to have the concept of “birthing” on my mind these days. In 12 weeks, give or take depending on when the baby wants to arrive, I will be participating in a literal birthing of the new addition to our family. I’m shifting into a “preparing for baby” phase — we started registering and figuring out what kinds of things we’ll need before the baby arrives, and we start childbirth classes next week. My body is continuing to change in new and unexpected ways, and baby’s movements are getting more consistent and pronounced.

But birthing has always been about more than the literal to me. One of my favorite songs is Far Far by Yael Naim, in which she talks about giving birth to yourself. For those of us who are walking the path of spiritual growth, the process of giving birth to ourselves is somewhat constant. There is always something “new” we’re uncovering within and learning to show the world. This year that “newness” within that I’m uncovering is mostly about how the divine feminine shows up in me, and how I can share that powerful feminine side of myself with those around me. I am giving birth to myself as a mother, to myself as someone who truly loves her body (perhaps for the first time in her life) now that it is home to her child, to myself as I embrace being a member of the community of woman in ways that my masculine-focused energy used to reject.

We all have both masculine and feminine energy, and it balances (or imbalances) within us differently depending on many factors, like how we were raised, what we value now, what phase of life we are in, etc. I was severely out of balance on the masculine side of the spectrum for the first 30+ years of my life. While the pendulum has been swinging quite a bit towards the feminine, I have often felt that masculine energy still in dominance. This year is really the first time I’ve felt the balance shift towards the feminine. It doesn’t mean that I’m rejecting the masculine energy within me, but it does mean I’m finally finding a way to balance those energies and to embrace my femininity as part of what makes me powerful, as part of what makes me Who I Am.

Mother’s Day is this weekend, which is always a wonderful time not only to celebrate the women who gave us birth and the mothers we are close to, but also the feminine energy that lives within us. It is time to let go of the doing energy–we’ve already planted plenty of seeds– and instead to celebrate our BEINGness, our unconditional love, our connection to Source, our connection to each other, our ability to allow things to open up and unfold. What are you in the process of birthing? “There’s a beautiful mess inside . . . Take a deep breath and dive . . . I guess I’ll have to give it birth . . . There’s a beautiful mess inside and it’s everywhere . . . Deeper than you ever dared . . .” Namaste.

Photo: “Viceroy on the Butterfly Bush,” originally uploaded by Benny Mazur


Happy Autumnal Equinox! September 22, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 11:39 pm
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I have mixed feelings about today. On the up side, fall is my absolutely favorite time of year. I love the change of weather, when the temperature begins to cool and evenings take on a crispness that encourages sweaters and jackets. I love when the leaves begin to change, exchanging their gorgeous greens for majestic reds, yellows, oranges and browns. I love school supplies filling the drugstores, with the clean, blank notebooks begging to be filled with fresh ideas. But it’s a mournful time too, as day and night share equal time today, signaling the beginning of our descent into darkness for the winter. It’s time to turn within, to connect to the wise Self and eternal Source within, staying quiet and leaving the boisterous extroversion of spring and summer behind for a spell.

Even living in a place where it stays warm so late in the year that leaves are still changing around Thanksgiving, fall is fall, and I always associate this time of year with new beginnings, with learning new things, with positive change. This year has felt sort of like fall has arrived every month, bringing regular change and inducing an ongoing sense of wonder at the world and my place in it. One of those changes is that for the first time, I am embracing the darkness, exploring the quiet stillness, the appearance of things coming to end, connecting with pieces of me that usual go unnoticed or ignored. I am not terribly interested in defining myself in concrete terms, perhaps because my self-definition is utterly fluid right now. What is much more up my alley right now is just being in the moment, seeing what shows up in it, and truly responding to it from the center of my being. What happens next is so much more powerful than what would have happened if I’d simply reacted or allowed my Intellect to interfere.

Life is an ongoing process, an experiment in becoming more — more of Who I Am, more of who I came here to be. It’s such a wild ride, unexpected and joyous and thought-provoking and vital. I’m simply excited to be here, excited that it’s fall, that it’s another season in the cycle of this crazy and incredible year, excited to see what I get to learn and be and do next, and excited to share bits and pieces of my journey with you. Namaste.

Photo: “Forever autumn,” originally uploaded by Josep Mª Rosell

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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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Spring has sprung March 20, 2008

Filed under: inspiration,links — jennsheridan @ 6:02 pm
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The first day of spring is one of my favorite days of the year. Every season is my favorite until the next season comes, but I love watching the days lengthen and the feeling that the world is waking up from its winter slumbers. Today I feel such deep gratitude for the path I find myself on, for the blossoming that is taking place inside of me, for the beauty that is showing up in my life and the world around me. There is an incredibly bubbling of ideas and opportunities happening for me right now, which just feels so timely with the advent of spring. I want to celebrate, to dance and sing, to be silly and playful and, well, me–yet another thing to be grateful for!

While working on a project this morning, I stumbled across some fun blog posts talking about spring. I had lots of fun and learned so much from some of the posts I found that I wanted to share them with you. Consider this Jenn’s ode to spring, ending with a lovely poem from the wonderful Risking Everything collection.

For anyone who is curious about how the vernal equinox works and why we are celebrating the first day of spring on March 20th this year, I give you the farmers’ almanac:

For the Irish, spring began over six weeks ago:

Spring on the farm means a new season of growing potential:

I loved this celebration of rebirth and renewal by a self-described eclectic Wiccan. Now where’d I put that Chia Pet?

Curious about what happened on this day in history? And hey, happy anniversary, Legoland!

Welcoming spring means celebrating a happy new years for the Persians:

And finally, some lovely photography celebrating spring and the Persian new year:

i thank You
by e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Photo: “Believe in the Spring!” originally uploaded by Hamed Saber

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A New Earth: The Flowering of Human Consciousness March 4, 2008

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

I just want to start by saying how awesome I think it is that over half a million people turned out for last night’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose web event, where Oprah and Eckhart Tolle spoke with each other and several participants about the background of this book and the contents of the first chapter. Wow! What an incredibly exciting time to be awake and aware on this planet. From my perspective, even if only a small percentage really get this book, it will still be revolutionary in terms of a consciousness shift on our planet. That said, I was disappointed I didn’t get to watch it “live.” The huge turnout affected some people’s ability to watch the webcast live, including mine–about 18 minutes into the 90-minute event, my viewer crashed completely and I wasn’t able to get back in, so I downloaded it today to catch back up again.

While there is nothing new under the sun, getting a new perspective always brings new Aha! moments to light for me, and this was no exception. In addition to just enjoying Eckhart’s gentle presence, I was pleased to feel a shift in me in watching this program even after having already read the first chapter twice through. Plus, the power of knowing how you are part of a global consciousness is simply amazing. Overall, I would say participating in this process is well worth just about anyone’s time and attention. Here are the highlights from my perspective:

What does life want from me? So much of our energy gets focused on what it is that we want from life. When you’re awakening to your life’s purpose, a better question might be what does life want from me? Eckhart talked about asking this question everyday for years without an answer. When it finally came, he had an impulse, a feeling like something wanted to be born. Instead of coming to a place where he wanted to write a book, he realized that a book wanted to be written. I loved this concept of allowing your purpose to come through you in such a conscious manner. As much as I know in my head that life is answering your prayers through you, this concept opened up expansively for me with this slightly different way of looking at things. I will be interested to see how this affects the way that I view the messages I receive moving forward from here.

Global change begins within. This is one that I’ve known for years but always appreciate a deepening understanding. It is essentially Ghandi’s thoughts on being the change you want to see in the world. If you look around you and see a world in need of a consciousness shift, then begin that consciousness shift in the only way you can–within yourself. In the case of A New Earth, it’s about breaking down the dysfunction of the ego, the thing in your head that is constantly chattering, constantly throwing up thoughts and fears to distract you from being aware of who you really are. At a global level, this egoic dysfunction is the source of warfare, oppression, poverty, disease. If you want to be a part of mining this dysfunction from the world, begin by mining it within you, on the scale that is appropriate to you, which mostly means your negative, pessimistic, fear-based thoughts and patterns. Start by becoming aware and begin to shift yourself, and you will ultimately affect the world.

All you need is now. While our thought processes have evolved through thousands of years of conditioning, it doesn’t take years and years to reverse. All you need is the present moment. Take a moment right now to breathe and notice the breath–that was you shifting your consciousness into the present, even if it was just for a second. It’s the kind of exercise that can be practiced throughout the day. For me, appreciation of beauty is a huge way for me to connect with the oneness and return to the present moment. Driving, walking, looking out the window–take a moment to really soak up the beauty around you, to really see it and appreciate it. You will instantly feel the shift in your body, in your mind as you open up to this awareness. The more we can find these moments throughout the day, the more we are shifting our thought processes away from the old patterns and habits that our ego is holding onto into the awareness of who we really are. Eckhart suggests any time you do a simple action, like washing your hands or walking up the stairs, pull your consciousness fully into that action. When you’re on your way to work, really be on your way to work, not there already in your head. Now is the only moment you have–make sure you are experiencing it.

Towards the end of the program an email came in about whether or not the world is ready for this type of shift. The answer lies in a different question, the only question any of us can really answer–am I ready? When I ask this question of myself, I know for sure that I am ready (and now doubly motivated) to take time each day to pay attention, to experience the stillness in the present moment, to ask life what it wants from me. What about you, are you ready?

Photo: “lotus-blooming,” originally uploaded by Jun

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The grounding, Part II February 7, 2008

This process of grounding is truly a process. While I did finish the task I set out to accomplish yesterday, it did not leave me with the feeling of relief and order that I was hoping for. The good news is that I can now be lazy and not have to look for things (ha ha ha). The bad news is that it seems the whole apartment needs this type of overhaul. Our place is pretty small and our hobbies tend to take up a lot of space. The office bears the brunt of this and until we have more room in which to set up a system of organization that can actually be maintained, order really needs to be restored fairly regularly or we just have to live with the consequences. Office aside, the kitchen really needs to be tackled, and then when that’s done, I should really do something about old magazines, and then go through the paperbacks to see which ones can be donated to new homes, and then there are closets that need some reorienting, and then . . .

When does it end? At what point does getting organized become just being a perfectionist, or only seeing what’s wrong instead of being able to see what’s right? Or is that just “all or nothing” thinking, where if one thing is organized then everything else should be, and if one thing is disorganized everything might as well be? And what about Nietzsche’s discovery, “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star” — where is there room for my creative chaos?

As with everything else, it seems, I need to find a balance here. Order enables me to be still, to reduce distractions, to see clearly, and chaos enables me to mix things up, to get silly and crazy and messy and see what happens. Order provides the grounding so that when I am open at the top, truly connected to that divine creativity that is calling me to expand, I can be stretched yet maintain my connection to the earth. One of the reasons I love Yael Naim’s Far Far so much is that she’s talking about that birthing process, praying for something to happen to her, feeling the beautiful mess inside and recognizing where it will lead. “I guess I’ll have to give it birth / To give it birth / There’s a beautiful mess inside and it’s everywhere.” Sometimes things have to get messy before we can get clear, but that mess needs space in which it can live and breathe and feel safe once the birthing process is complete.

So I will continue to ground myself, to get organized and nurture myself and my family. And I will continue to reach out into the stars, to let things get a little messy and see where it leads, knowing that I have laid the foundation that makes it possible for me to find order and clarity when I need to. Namaste.


Far Far February 5, 2008

Filed under: music — jennsheridan @ 8:15 am
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I just downloaded this song, Far Far by Yael Naim, from iTunes — it’s one of the free discovery downloads for the week. I’ve already listened to it five times (make that six while I’ve been typing) and I can tell it will quickly become a favorite, partially for the talents of the singer-songwriter with her angelic voice, and partially for the lyrics that speak to where I am in my life. Many, many thank yous to Frannie who pointed it out to me this morning. All I can say is wow!

My favorite phrases string together like poetry: There’s a beautiful mess inside . . . Take a deep breath and dive . . . I guess I’ll have to give it birth . . . Deeper than you ever dared . . .

So the only place I’ve been able to find her eponymous album is on iTunes. She does have a single import on Amazon. She’s French-Israeli, and she recorded her latest album in France last year. Apparently she participated in the Yes, We Can video supporting Barrack Obama’s campaign — maybe she’s the one singing in another language? And that would be the sum total of what I know.

Note, 2/7: Apparently this import is available on Amazon now so it’s possible to pick up the actual CD.

Song: Far Far
Artist: Yael Naim
Album: Yael Naim
Website: http://www.yaelweb.com/
More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yael_Naim

Far, far, there’s this little girl
She was praying for something to happen to her
Everyday she writes words and more words
Just to speak out the thoughts that keep floating inside
And she’s strong when the dreams come cos’ they
Take her, cover her, they are all over
The reality looks far now, but don’t go

How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside
Oh oh oh oh

Far far, there’s this little girl
She was praying for something good to happen to her
From time to time there are colors and shapes
Dazzling her eyes, tickling her hands
They invent her a new world with
Oil skies and aquarel rivers
But don’t you run away already
Please don’t go oh oh

How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside
Take a deep breath and dive
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess
Beautiful mess inside

Oh beautiful, beautiful

Far far there’s this little girl
She was praying for something big to happen to her
Every night she hears beautiful strange music
It’s everywhere there’s nowhere to hide
But if it fades she begs
“Oh lord don’t take it from me, don’t take it,” she says

I guess I’ll have to give it birth
To give it birth
I guess, I guess, I guess I have to give it birth
I guess I have to, have to give it birth
There’s a beautiful mess inside and it’s everywhere

So shake it yourself now deep inside
Deeper than you ever dared
Deeper than you ever dared
There’s a beautiful mess inside
Beautiful mess inside