Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Sister Helen Prejean quote February 13, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 8:00 pm
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Lavish [love] on others, receive it gratefully when it come to you. Cultivate friendship like a garden. It is the best love of all.

~Sister Helen Prejean

 

Ghosts August 26, 2008

Filed under: journey — jennsheridan @ 11:03 pm
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I’ve been feeling ghosts all around me lately. Not the ghosts of those who have left this world–I know that in a way because they have moved on they are always with me–but the ghosts of old friends who used to be a large part of my life but due to geography or priorities or whatnot are no longer around. I see them in old pictures, hear them in classic songs, even have them cropping up in restless dreams. Suddenly, I’m missing people I haven’t thought of in months or seen in years and I feel sad.

My mom calls me a pack rat, and that applies to people as well as to things. I hate to let people go, even when it is obviously time, when we’ve grown apart or aren’t helping each other to grow any longer. It’s true, I have this dream of being able to gather everyone I’ve ever loved into one community so that they may continue to be a part of my life even if it’s only to run into each other at Town Hall meetings. There’s a piece of me that hungers for that small town feel where it’s a rare person that moves into the town and an even rarer one that leaves, where everybody knows everybody and their business, for good or for bad.

And yet, no one is aware more than I am that it is precisely because I’ve led the somewhat transient life I’ve led, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and moving into new areas with new people, that I’ve been able to grow and change as much as I have. The old friends, while still dear to me, could not have helped me to get to where I am today. They’ve had their own paths to explore, and I’ve needed fresh ideas, fresh motivations to nudge me along my own. There was a time and a place for us to be together, and the time may come where we’ll meet again. But in the meantime, I’m always being pushed out of my nest out in the wide world, where no one is really a stranger, they’re just friends I haven’t collected yet.

And so, I am writing this to honor my ghosts, to let them know I will never forget them. I will be here when the time is right for us to be in community again. In the meantime, best of luck on the journey. Namaste.

Photo: “Lighthouse in sepia,” originally uploaded by eva

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Creative urges January 20, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 5:42 pm
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I was fiddling around on Google this morning and stumbled across this image that just struck a deep chord with me. God, do I ever wish I were artistically talented. I’m in complete awe of people who CREATE. I have trouble thinking of myself as a creative person, even when I’m doing things that are inherently creative, but it’s something I’ve always yearned for. Kind of like when I was little and I just loved my cousins’ Southern accents and I wanted to be Southern so bad it hurt. I didn’t realize that it was what was on the inside that mattered, I could only see the external stuff. Now I don’t identify myself with just one part of the country — I honor my Southern roots and Yankee upbringing just as much as I honor my Californian home. But I digress.

I think that the creative urge is one we all share, that it runs deep within the parts of us that make us human. It’s related to the urge to procreate for sure, but I think it’s more than just that. Our conscious minds might yearn for remembrance, to leave a little piece of ourselves behind when we pass on to the next realm. But our souls yearn for an opportunity to express Who We Are, to get deep into the heart of the matter, of whatever matters, and connect with it, feel it, shine a light on it, and show it off to the rest of the world, whatever it is. When I was cleaning out my linen closet last week — and boy, am I ever still reveling in that — I stumbled across a bag of painting supplies. Damn, I’ve had those a long time. Some of those oils paints and brushes are from a painting class I took in college. I have to say, I was one of the least skilled people in that class, but I had so much FUN it just didn’t matter. One of my favorite classes in high school was drawing. Now that I was good at, I admit. I even had one of my ink drawings submitted for a state art show. Sadly, I never got it back, but I remember how good that felt, and also a little scary, that something I had made was being shown off to so many people.

These days, most of my creative urges get channeled into making mixes for friends. Ah yes, I still do love those old mixed tapes I got from boyfriends and made for myself back in high school and college. So now I burn CDs, sad that they have to be so much shorter, but still enjoying the whole process, from song selection and arrangement right down to cover art and typeface choices. But of course by now, we all know about my love affair with music. What I really crave is a creative outlet that is 100% me, where I’m not just sharing other peoples’ talents with the world, but my own. Writing, painting, sculpting, collaging — whatever moves me for the day — I need to find that outlet, find that way to express myself in a creative fashion, let out some of this pent up creativity that has been seeking a place to go. Who knows, I might just surprise myself and be an artist after all. Or I could just have a whole heck of a lot of fun. The outcome is not what’s important here, it’s all about enjoying the ride. Namaste.

 

Finding balance January 16, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 7:23 pm
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I have to laugh at myself for not posting yesterday. It’s almost like I’ve been doing so much work and had so much come up for me that I short-circuited my brain and ended up with nothing to write about. As I sit here now I can feel myself being torn in different directions. What’s most important for me right now — my finances? My freelance work? Balancing my chakras? Coming out of hiding? Nurturing myself? Making healthy (and yummy) food choices? Getting my body moving? Connecting with people I value? Being comfortable in my own skin? Just thinking about it all makes the short-circuit kick back in again. I think the key thing for me to focus on in the midst of all of this is BALANCE.

Balance is one of those words you hear people talk about a lot these days. It’s trendy, even, which seems odd for something that is so essential to living well. But what does balance look like really? I can tell you one thing for sure — it does not look like perfection. I think we all have an idea in our heads of what our life would look like if everything were going perfectly. For me, I’d be up early, meditate and do my morning practice, go for a run, eat a healthy breakfast, write a chapter of my book — all before 10am. It honestly makes my stomach churn to think about how that would play out in reality. I think the key is more to take things one at a time, to live in the moment and be fully committed to what you’re doing right now, to mix things up a little bit and not get too hung up on a routine, to make sure each day has a little bit of each of the key ingredients without being too heavy on a single one (love, connection, work, play).

When I first left my job, I made lists of everything I was going to do each day. By the time 3pm rolled around, I was exhausted and hadn’t even come close to finishing everything on the daily list, let alone the bigger projects I planned to undertake in my time off. Since then I’ve discovered what works better for me is to have sort of groups of lists, and to do at least one thing from each group every day. This flows organically for me, to the point that I don’t need to look at the list very often. I use it more of a reminder of the things I could do instead of having it weigh me down under the burden of things I should do. And it’s amazing how things naturally cycle. In my morning pages each day it’s like I receive direction on what’s important for me today and I get different messages every day depending on what I need.

Today that direction was loudly and clearly about cultivating friendships with people who like to think about the big picture, changing the world, connecting to Source, living life fully. And more specifically it was about starting with the people that are already in my life and making them more of a priority. By 10am I had already connected with three friends and made plans to meet up with some people for dinner and a discussion about life, the universe, and everything. When you set your intention and begin to take action on that intention, the universe responds in kind. I just love living my life from a place of consciousness, being aware of all of the shifts that are taking place, small and large. It makes each day an adventure to be treasured. And it’s a hell of a lot more fun to boot. Have a fabulous, love- and fun-filled day. Namaste.

 

Strength January 11, 2008

One of the joys of being between jobs is the flexibility inherent in the situation. If I wake up in the morning and need to spend some time on forgiveness work, I can. If a book falls off a shelf asking to be read, I can follow that urge. If nature is calling me out into its luscious depths, I can pack up and go for a walk. I am spending a lot of time listening and following the guidance I receive. Ultimately, my hope is that it will lead me to an income source, so a lot of my focus is on my life’s purpose and seeing what the next step on that path looks like.

Earlier this week, the daily “big idea” email I get from thinkArete.com was about Dr. Mark Seligman’s Authentic Happiness. The short idea is that if you figure out what your strengths are and use them, you will find happiness. I was, of course, intrigued and checked out the Authentic Happiness website and discovered a whole slew of interesting looking questionnaires, including the one calling to me — Signature Strengths. My results were both unsurprising and edifying, and I feel compelled to share the top five (of 24) with you today.

My top strength is Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith. Not surprising considering how much time I am currently dedicating to my connection to my Source. I would guess that if I had taken this questionnaire a year ago, this would not have turned up number one, but today it truly is the best thing I have going for me and the source of the contentment I find in each day.

My second strength is Appreciation of beauty and excellence. This is definitely one that I try to cultivate. I happen to believe I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, so most days this is easy, but I can find beauty in anything, anyone, anywhere.

My third strength is Love of learning. Oh, if Ms. Tinsley could just see me now. I was the bane of many a schoolteacher’s existence — that kid who didn’t pay attention in class, never did her homework, but still did well on tests. I always had an affinity for learning, but was so often bored it didn’t come out in school until I was about halfway through college. As an adult, learning is a source of great pleasure for me, and I find myself taking classes whenever I can.

My fourth strength is Perspective (wisdom). Who knew I was so wise? I definitely do believe that we each hold a unique perspective, and mine is valuable precisely because it is uniquely mine. The unique perspectives of other individuals help me to hone my own, and I hope vice versa. The world is such an interesting place full of such interesting people. And hey, I’m one of them!

My fifth strength is Capacity to love and be loved. I love just about everyone I come in contact with. Now, that doesn’t mean I always like them, but I can always find something in them to love. I am also blessed with parents whose love for me I have never had reason to doubt, affectionate and loving family members, a burgeoning family of choice (aka my friends), and the love of a supportive husband and adoring cats. It’s a good place to be.

I love having the opportunity to explore and celebrate my strengths. I have spent too much of my life being my own biggest critic, focusing on all of my weaknesses and flaws. Just thinking about my strengths brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. Isn’t that a much better place to live? I already feel that authentic happiness flooding into my life, and I’ve only just begun. Namaste.

 

Greetings from Connecticut December 27, 2007

Filed under: notes — jennsheridan @ 1:44 pm
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I feel a little like I’m living in a postcard this week. I’d love to find one of those old fashioned “greetings” cards. I could upload the photo for you. 🙂 Being back in Connecticut is always an experience for me. In some respects, it’s awesome. I get to see places I hung out as a teenager — as much as they’ve been transformed, they still bring back memories. I get to see good friends and family that I just never can connect with enough from 3,000 miles away. But there’s always reminders of the reasons why I left, the obnoxious people on the streets and the attitudes out at restaurants and stores.

But this trip has been different, more positive than negative. I’ve been trying to put my finger on the why of it, and it seems like it’s a matter of attachment (or lack thereof). I’m just not feeling attached to anything. Now, that might not sound like a good thing. It might smack of apathy or indifference. But that’s not it at all. I’m much more present this trip. I’m not experiencing Connecticut through the eyes of the past, I’m actually seeing it as it is now. I’m enjoying its beauty and not being bugged as much by its flaws. I feel more contentment, less agita. I’m focusing on the yummy Chinese and Italian food, the beauty of the snow and the rivers and the trees, the joy of connecting with friends and family. I don’t have a picture in my head of how things should be; instead, I’m just enjoying what is. There’s a lot of power in that kind of detachment. And a lot more happiness.

Wish me luck with the remainder of my travels. Today I am off to New Jersey to continue this journey of contentment. Namaste.

Editor’s Note, 12/30/07: I went back and found one of those postcards — I love those images! I just started re-watching one of my favorite TV series of all times, Wonderfalls, and had forgotten that they use that type of postcard as part of the titles. I’m not sure which came first — my love for the postcards or my love of the show, but the synchronicity is making me smile today.