Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Susan Griffin quote December 8, 2008

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

We know ourselves to be made from this earth. We know this earth is made from our bodies. For we see ourselves. And we are nature. We are nature seeing nature. We are nature with a concept of nature. Nature weeping. Nature speaking of nature to nature.

The red-winged blackbird flies in us, in our inner sight. We see the arc of her flight. We measure the ellipse. We predict its climax. We are amazed. We are moved. We fly. We watch her wings negotiate the wind, the substance of the air, its elements and the elements of those elements, and count those elements found in other beings, the sea urchin’s sting, ink, this paper, our bones, the flesh of our tongues with which we make the sound “blackbird,” the ear with which we hear, the eye which travels the arc of her flight. And yet the blackbird does not fly in us but somewhere else free of our minds, and now even free of our sight, flying in the path of her own will.

~Susan Griffin


Seeking the Source November 24, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 5:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

It’s been an upside-down and inside-out kind of month. With Thanksgiving approaching, I’m choosing to follow the wisdom of Rumi and seek my Source, relaxing back into Who I Am and what is truly important to me. It’s a time for reflection and for connection. Enjoy the process. Namaste.

Seeking the Source
by Jelaluddin Rumi

a voice out of this world
calls on our souls
not to wait any more
get ready to move
to the original home

your real home
your real birth place
is up here with the heavens
let your soul take a flight
like a happy phoenix

you’ve been tied up
your feet in the mud
your body roped to a log
break loose your ties
get ready for the final flight

make your last journey
from this strange world
soar for the heights
where there is no more
separation of you and your home

God has created
your wings not to be dormant
as long as you are alive
you must try more and more
to use your wings to show you’re alive

these wings of yours
are filled with quests and hopes
if they are not used
they will wither away
they will soon decay

you may not like
what i’m going to tell you
you are stuck
now you must seek
nothing but the source

Photo: “Let go,” originally uploaded by Nataly


Annie Dillard quote November 3, 2008

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , ,

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be too cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.

~Annie Dillard


People Look Around October 6, 2008

Filed under: inspiration,music — jennsheridan @ 9:56 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When it rains, it pours. It isn’t a belief I typical espouse, however it has manifested in my life over the past couple of weeks. It’s all good stuff–a few examples: my mother is finally moving to the Bay Area after two years of planning, and we found her a lovely new home last week; I’m interviewing for a position that would get me out in the world, interacting with people in a way that utilizes my excellent project management skills in combination with my life’s desire to help people live their lives as fully as possible; and I’m embarking on a journey into the world of the shaman, realizing a dream I’ve had since I first discovered the Navajo’s Beauty Way when I was a teenager. It’s keeping me busy, but I must say, Life Is Good.

While I was working today, I was listening to Catie Curtis’s most recent two albums: Long Night Moon (2006) and Sweet Life (2008). I talked about one of her songs back in January when I had a similar experience of reconnecting with her music and falling in love all over again. This time, I was especially struck by two songs . . .

“People Look Around,” from Long Night Moon, is a timely look at where the political discussion in America has gotten derailed to. Written post-Katrina, it is just as applicable today as the conversation is turning yet again from global considerations (i.e. economics and climate change) back to things that have no business being mixed up with politics (i.e. religion). Of course, if we really wanted to bring religion into the discussion, I’m with Catie: “Jesus said, ‘Feed the hungry,’ Jesus said, ‘Help the poor,’ / ‘Take care of each other, love one another.'” Not bad advice.

The other song that jumped out at me today was “Are You Ready to Fly?” from Sweet Life. Yes, I do have an obsession with the idea of learning to fly, but what a wonderful look at the sweetness of childhood, and how change really is an opportunity to fly.

So I hope you enjoy a little Catie Curtis distraction here this afternoon. And if it turns out you like her even half as much as I do, she’ll be at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley this Sunday and Monday. Wanna go?

Artist: Catie Curtis
Website: http://catiecurtis.com/
More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catie_Curtis

Song: People Look Around
Album: Long Night Moon
Video: http://catiecurtis.com/index.php?page=video&display=797

The Mississippi River divides this land in two
Like the way tend to think of things, black and white, red and blue
If they can keep us fighting about marriage and god
They’ll be no one left to notice if our leaders do their jobs

The truth is bigger than these drops of rain
The truth is bigger than these drops of rain
Falling in the ocean

When the water is rising and there is no higher ground
You can wave your hands up on the roof but you might be left to drown
In the streets of New Orleans, a makeshift funeral pall
“Here Lies Vera, God Help Us All”

The truth is bigger than these drops of rain
The truth is bigger than these drops of rain
Falling in the ocean

Jesus said “feed the hungry,” Jesus said “help the poor”
“Take care of each other, love one another”
People look around, we let them down

The Mississippi River flooded New Orleans
And we stared in disbelief at our TV screens
If they can keep us fighting another endless war
How many tears before the truth cannot be ignored?

The truth is bigger than these drops of rain
The truth is bigger than these drops of rain
Falling in Lake Ponchartrain
Falling in the ocean

Written by Catie Curtis and Mark Erelli

Song: Are You Ready to Fly?
Albums: Sweet Life

Teenagers jumping off a railroad bridge
They’ve known each other since they were kids
It’s the end of the summer, good friends ready to fly
They do the cannonball in to the creek
They do the cannonball one more week
At the end of the summer, good friends saying goodbye

They were riding double on bicycles
Buying bubble gum and vying for the sun
And the summer was so long,
‘Til the summer was so gone

Your sister went to college in the fall
She took her posters off the bedroom wall
And the family drove all night from the university
And in the morning looking down the hall
She left her trophies and a couple dolls
But your family would be alright ‘cause you had to be

You were riding double on bicycles
Buying bubble gum and vying for the sun
And the summer was so long,
‘Til the summer was so gone

On we go down crooked roads alone to who knows where
Burning in this moment like a sparkler in mid-air

When you are jumping off a railroad bridge
No one can tell you what living is
At the end of the summer are you ready to fly?

We were riding double on bicycles
Buying bubble gum and vying for the sun
And the summer was so long,
‘Til the summer was so gone

Photo: Tony Baker


Joseph Campbell quote August 18, 2008

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
Tags: ,

A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It’s not as wide as you think.”

~Joseph Campbell


Inspiration: The Invitation April 22, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 3:19 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I remember when Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s The Invitation was just an email being forwarded from friend to friend. It was relatively early in the friend-spamming-friend era, but you still got more of those emails than “real” emails and it was tough to pick and choose which ones were worth your time. I know that I usually just skimmed those emails and deleted them, barely absorbing the messages within. This email was different, however. I remember doing my usual skim and then stopping, returning to the first line to read each word and allow it to truly sink in. To this day, I still get “Spirit bumps” when I read her words. I feel my whole body tingle with aliveness and I yearn to “dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of [my] fingers and toes.” This is definitely a message about living life to its fullest, celebrating life in all its glory, and learning to fly.

The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon . . .
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Photo: “Big Range Austin Dance Festival,” originally uploaded by Andrew Baron


Inspiration: Wild Geese April 21, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 8:52 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I am in a place right now where I just want to soak up all the beauty and joy and love that is in the world. And so, with that in mind, this week I’d like to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to share some truly beautiful and moving words with you, the kind of words that inspire me to want both to write and to spread my wings and fly.

When I got out Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love and Revelation this afternoon, the book fell open to a poem that brings tears to my eyes almost every time I hear its first line. Mary Oliver’s words move me tangibly–I can feel them more than I can hear them even, vibrating within my being. I hope you find them inspirational too.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Photo: “Wild Geese,” originally uploaded by John Wigham