Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Do nothing May 29, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 2:01 pm
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“What I call “doing the dishes” is the practice of loving the task in front of you. Your inner voice guides you all day long to do simple things such as brush your teeth, drive to work, call your friend, or do the dishes. Even though it’s just another story, it’s a very short story, and when you follow the direction of the voice, the story ends. We are really alive when we live as simply as that—open, waiting, trusting, and loving to do what appears in front of us now . . . What we need to do unfolds before us, always—doing the dishes, paying the bills, picking up the children’s socks, brushing our teeth. We never receive more than we can handle, and there is always just one thing to do. Whether you have ten dollars or ten million dollars, life never gets more difficult than that.”
~Byron Katie

My left brain, intellect, masculine side is still stir crazy this week. All it wants is to do do do do do. Yet the messages I’m getting from the Universe are: There’s nothing to do. There’s only being. Something wonderful is being born from this stillness. All you have to do is to sit still and allow it to come.

One would think this would be a wonderful message, something to rejoice at. Don’t we spend most of our lives wishing we had more time to relax, to be at peace? But my body and mind are just itching to be active. I’ve felt listless, uncomfortable, even lost. Why is that, I wonder? Where is the fear in just being? I don’t have any answers today. Really, I think even the questions are just my mind trying another tactic to get me to be active.

Instead, my practice today is simple: breathe, and be aware that I am breathing; eat, and be aware that I am eating; listen, and be aware that I am listening; live, and be aware that I am alive; see the world around me, enjoying it through each of my senses; don’t do anything. Namaste.

Photo: “PEACE,” originally uploaded by Alex

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Living with uncertainty May 20, 2008

This past week has been such a good reminder for me that life is what happens when you’re making other plans. My overdeveloped intellectual, masculine, left-brain side of me has been absolutely writhing with impatience as I’ve essentially accomplished nothing that I set out to accomplish. I had all these plans for how I was going to get back on track, or even better, how I wasn’t going to get thrown off track in the first place by my trip to Georgia. My intellect was already expressing disappointment with me that I hadn’t been blogging regularly and so I downloaded the 10th A New Earth webinar to watch on the plane with the intention that I would even post my comments from Georgia without missing a beat. The universe must have been laughing at me, for when I turned on my laptop at 30,000 feet the file was gone. All attempts to watch the webinar since I’ve been home have been derailed by everything from computer failure to 100 degree heat.

I’ve had similar experiences with most of the rest of my too long to-do list to the point where I just have to relax, laugh, and say, Okay, what do you want from me? When I sit still and listen, I receive a gentle response that comes from the spiritual, feminine, right-brain side of me reminding me just to be, to let go, to take care of myself, to be myself, and all the rest of it will fall into place. I’m reminded that now is the time for me to relax into the mystery of life, to learn to live with uncertainty, to focus on BEING instead of doing. This is my gift both to myself and to the world, because through being I can become what I came here to be, which really is just simply ME.

My life has always been fairly well planned. I didn’t have a sense of what I’d be doing 5 or 10 or 30 years from now, but I had a feel for the rhythm of it, for the texture of it. My ambitions would take me far in my work and I would be very successful. I believed in the common wisdom of climbing the corporate ladder, using my current job to get a better job, working hard so that I would be well rewarded. This was my DOINGness, my masculine energy, my left-brain intellect at play. But I was never happy in my work, never happy with the rewards, never happy with the success. It all felt empty and without purpose. I knew there was more to life than what I came to think of as “making other people rich.” I knew that my true purpose lay in a different direction, but this energy was so strong in me that I couldn’t escape it.

I left that world a little over 7 months ago, and it feels like I’ve been in a retraining mode all these months. It’s almost like I’ve been in physical therapy, strengthening my right-brain so that it can at least find a balance with my left-brain. In some ways, I’ve had to swing the pendulum pretty far in the opposite direction to get the energy shaken up enough that a balance can occur, and I may need to live from a place of BEING for a while yet before a balance is possible. I’m learning how to live my life without a plan. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a vision–in fact if anything my vision is much clearer, much stronger than it ever was before. But I’m not caught up in “how” I’m going to get there. My focus is on allowing a little bit more of the mystery to unfold each day, enjoying the ride, having fun with the process, finding peace in the present moment.

Are you at peace with the mystery? Can you find peace in the uncertainty? No matter how much we plan, how little uncertainty we think there is in our lives, life really is what happens when we are making other plans. Just like the present moment is the only one that is, life is nothing but uncertainty. We do not know what the next minute or hour or day or month will bring. When we learn to be at peace with this truth, we can truly appreciate where we are in this moment, and we can make room for BEING in our lives and begin to pave the way for what is truly important in our lives, begin to live our lives as fully and richly as possible, begin to be Who We Really Are. Namaste.

Photo: “What does this picture mean to you?,” originally uploaded by chema.foces

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Lost April 1, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 9:46 pm
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Oprah read a poem at the beginning of last night’s A New Earth webinar that is one of my absolute favorites. I first heard it many years ago at a spiritual conference where Oriah Mountain Dreamer was giving a workshop. I knew the title but not the author, and I am so grateful that truly nothing is ever lost. This message suffices for today; I will share my thoughts on the webinar itself tomorrow. Namaste.

by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

Photo: “Aspens,” originally uploaded by Nancy Jones-Francis


Gently, please! March 31, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 2:22 pm
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It appears that I need a new mantra. Asking for messages, asking to be open, has left me with bandaids all over my body. As much fun as I am having with my “temporary tattoos” of peace and yin & yang signs, I have to say, I could stand to receive my messages more gently. I’m reminded of Richard from Texas in Eat, Pray, Love–he was asking repeatedly for his heart to be open and to receive a sign when the opening had occurred. After a few months of this prayer, he ended up having open-heart surgery. “So now Richard is always cautious with his prayers, he tells me. ‘Whenever I pray for anything these days, I always wrap it up by saying, “Oh, and God? Please be gentle with me, OK?”‘”

I can totally relate. In addition to the average, run-of-the-mill stubbed toes and bumped funny bones, I’ve fallen down the stairs (twice in one week!) and bruised my tailbone, I’ve had a knee injury that left me literally on the couch for six weeks, I’ve thrown my back out such that I was unable to get out of bed for three days, I’ve had countless sinus infections and stomach flus that completely knocked me out. Heck, in the past month alone, I’ve had a concussion, gotten poison oak, and even stabbed myself in the foot. My friends say I’m a klutz, that I’m accident prone, but I know there has been a message in each of these incidents–usually one that had been ignored previously, which is how it ended up ultimately being delivered in such a large way.

So I’ve learned that, “Gently, please!” is a good addendum to any request for aid. And perhaps even more importantly, I’ve learned that I need to be mindful. Mindful of my thoughts, mindful of where I’m going, mindful of what I’m doing. And if I’m asking for messages, if I’m asking for things to be clear, then I really need to listen for an answer. I never saw anything that looked like poison oak, but I know exactly where I was when I brushed up against it because, in retrospect, my intuition had pointed it out to me. As I was walking up to a tree that was hanging out over the sidewalk, a thought popped into my head, “Poison oak!” And I kind of laughed it off and thought, “It’s a good thing this branch I’m walking past isn’t poison oak.” The next day, I had what looked like a spider bite on my arm. Again, poison oak popped into my head. Instead of ignoring it this time, I put a bandaid on it, “just in case.” One itchy week later, I definitely know the next time any thought of poison oak pops into my head I will recognize it for the intuitive message that it is. Hindsight may be 20/20, but when we’re paying attention, we can have real-time guidance as well.

So I go into this new week with my double request to be more open and to receive messages clearly, but always to have my prayers answered gently. What kinds of messages have you been receiving lately? Could you use to receive them a little more gently? Join me in my “Gently, please!” mantra this week and let me know how it goes! Namaste.

Photo: “La Fleuve,” originally uploaded by Powderruns

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Step 7: Follow Your Bliss March 2, 2008

From the Steps to Learning How to Fly series.

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of . . . being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time—namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

Have you ever had a feeling of complete self-awareness where you recognize that what is happening right now could only be happening to you, and the events of the past hours, days, months, even years have all come together to produce this very moment? August Gold talks about the work that we alone can do, that we were born to do, and the feeling of resonance that happens when we stand in that place that only we can stand in. In The Alchemist, Paolo Coehlo explores the idea of the universe conspiring to help bring your dreams to fruition. Joseph Campbell discusses how when you follow your bliss, invisible hands come out to help you along your path.

This concept of “following your bliss” is the culmination of the ideas we have been discussing over the course of this series. It is about what happens when we begin to shift, to get clear, to take time to be still and listen, to follow our intuitive guidance, to allow our real selves to come out into the world, and to take steps, however small, in the direction of our dreams. It is about how doors begin to open for us, how people begin to show up seemingly accidentally with access to different pieces of the puzzle, how things we were led to do years ago suddenly begin to make sense within this new framework, and how our dreams begin to take shape.

There is a lot of misconception surrounding this topic. Critics talk about how if we all followed our bliss, there would be tons of starving artists in the world and no janitors. Or people will say, what I’d really like to do is not to work, so I’m going to pursue that goal and the money will still follow, right? This isn’t about imagining a life that sounds glamorous or exciting and doing that. And it definitely isn’t some spiritually couched permission to be lazy. It is about finding your place in the world, your passion, your divine birthright, and throwing yourself into it, taking the leap of faith with full knowledge that the universe will provide you solid ground to step on, or at the very least a soft place to fall.

Finding your place in the world is neither as difficult nor as easy as it sounds. As we’ve touched on previously, life is always giving us messages, showing us the next step we need to take. We don’t go out for our first run today and finish a marathon tomorrow–we take steps that enable us to reach that ultimate goal. It isn’t a matter of instant gratification, it’s about laying a solid foundation and creating the building blocks you need in order to get there. And the best part? You aren’t doing this alone, you do not need to have the full blueprint in your head in order to have it all come together beautifully. Your job is to be aware, to notice what resonates and what doesn’t, to trust in yourself and the universe, to listen to the messages you receive and follow their guidance.

One of the reasons I love Wonderfalls, the short-lived TV series starring Caroline Dhavernas, is that it explores this concept in a more obvious and direct way. The main character, Jaye, literally receives messages from the universe–normally inanimate objects begin to speak to her. Their somewhat enigmatic messages lead her to do things that set whole courses of events in motion with often humorous and always miraculous results. The show explores how seemingly small circumstances become snowballs that nudge (or knock) us into living our destiny. One of my favorite episodes (spoiler alert) includes the phrase “Bring Her Back To Him.” Jaye interprets this to mean that she should try to reconcile the nun hiding out at the local bar with the priest who has come to town looking for her. At one point she and the nun have an argument in a parking lot–Jaye gets upset and drives away, backing into a car and breaking its taillight in the process. It turns out to be the priest’s car; when the police pull him over for the broken taillight, they discover a warrant out for his arrest. His last girlfriend before he had entered the priesthood had been looking for him for almost ten years, and he gets to meet the daughter he never knew he had for the first time. By the end of the episode many “hers” have been brought back to many “hims,” including, and resulting in, the nun’s faith in God being restored.

While our messages are not usually so literal, nor the steps to get from taillight to reunion so clearly painted, they are always happening for us too. Once you really get this, you come to understand that coincidences are really incidences of synchronicity, showing us the way. Start saying “Yes!” to the universe, stepping through the doors that open up for you along the way. Pay attention to the messages you receive each day and follow where they lead. Uncover your passion and immerse yourself in it. My guess is that you will be following your bliss before you know, benefiting from the invisible hands helping you along the way, spreading your wings and soaring to new heights, loving the feeling of resonance that comes with standing in your right place in the world. Namaste.

Recommended Reading:
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield
Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow, by Marsha Sinetar
Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell
The Witch of Portobello, by Paolo Coehlo

Photo: “follow your bliss,” by irene suchocki

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Off and on February 18, 2008

I feel like today I am waking up from a long nap. It isn’t like I did nothing this weekend, but I did spend more of the weekend drifting than shifting. I haven’t meditated or done my morning pages in days and I can totally feel it. The simplest word to describe it is that I am “off” — off-balance, off-kilter, off-key, off-track . . . just plain off. The one thing I did do this weekend I am so grateful for — I connected with women. I took a friend to the airport on Friday and we had breakfast. I had a handful of women friends over for a potluck dinner Saturday night. I met up with a couple of my Hoffman buddies for brunch on Sunday. I felt like I was rolling in feminine energy. What a nice change of pace, such a treat.

There is something about this weekend every year where I feel called to embrace my feminine energy. I’m sure part of it is balancing the equation — my husband spends this weekend playing battle games, whether he goes to one of the local cons or just hooks up with some of his friends. Perhaps his being so utterly immersed in masculine energy brings out my need to soak up some feminine energy. Or it could be that on the heels of Valentine’s Day, I feel my heart opening up and need to connect to the feminine to help support that. Whatever it is, this year I felt compelled to spend it with friends, and it sure felt good, like a warm bath. My soul feels soothed for it.

Today I feel capable of taking small steps out of the remainder of my funk. I feel again the desire to meditate, to listen to my intuition, to go for a walk, to cook something nurturing. My body and soul are craving some time to connect, to listen, to pay attention. And so I am following those urges, coming back to my center, moving from off to on — on track, on purpose, on fire. Thankfully!


How Would It Be February 13, 2008

Filed under: music — jennsheridan @ 5:52 pm
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Today feels like a good day for “How Would It Be.” A good friend gave my mom Ellis’s EP as a birthday present for her trip cross-country last fall. This song quickly became part of her daily ritual due to its powerful message and infectious music. As soon as I heard it I understood why, and ended up playing it over and over and over and over again. It is still a “go to” song for both of us, the kind of music that lifts you up and carries you over the trials of your day.

Please, do yourself a favor, visit Ellis’s website, listen to her music, find a venue where she’s playing near you. Funny, honest, open, entertaining, deep, powerful–she is a true treasure. I saw her in Santa Cruz in December and I fell even more in love with her. And I can even forgive her for re-recording “How Would It Be,” even though I thought the version on the EP was infinitely better than the version that ended up on the full album, because she’s that awesome. So, how would you change your life if you learned that the ground was really sky? Would you stop walking and learn how to fly?

Artist: Ellis
Song: How Would It Be
Album: Break The Spell
Website: http://www.ellis-music.com/
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5Exkqp2FVo

V1: How would it be if everything that you thought you knew
Was turned upside down opposite from your point of view
How would you feel if the ground was really the sky and all of this
time you’ve been walkin’ when you coulda been …flying

V2: If you run a thousand miles a minute you can expect
to wear out a few pairs of shoes
If you forget how to love and take it for granted
You can expect to wear out people close to you

Ch: What if all the birds were flying just to show us
All the trees were really holdin’ the sky up
And everything that you do matters somehow
What if heaven and hell was right now

V3. How would it be if you really created your life?
Stories you told, the good and bad, that they come alive
And how would it change if your words were like nails and wood?
You build your house, but you forget that it‘s just a house
You can rebuild it

Ch: What if all the birds were flying just to show us
All the trees were really holdin’ the sky up
Everything that you do matters in the end
What if all of our mistakes are forgiven?

Br: What if love is a lot of listening
A little bit of time not pretending
We are caught up in a world of daydreams
What if loving what you have is everything?

Ch out: What if all the birds were flying just to show us
And all the trees were really holdin’ the sky up
And everything that you do matters so much
How would you change your life?
How would you change your life?