Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Agnus Dei June 19, 2009

Filed under: inspiration,music — jennsheridan @ 1:02 pm
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I’ve been listening to this piece of transcendent music over and over again for a week now. In the midst of some major changes at the office on top of preparing for maternity leave and having an incredibly exhausting third trimester, it has been a bit of a crazy week. But every morning when I first open up my web browser, this piece opens up and fills the room. My brain may already be buzzing with all the things I have to do today, but this music almost instantly brings me to a place of deep peace, a place of true grace. I feel open, connected to source, and incredibly alive, all at once. And all those thoughts just slip away, leaving me refreshed and ready to take things one at a time. This is the kind of music I am passionate about — the kind of music that moves you, that transforms you, even if just for a moment. Aaaah . . .

Song: Choral version of Agnus Dei sung to Samuel Barber‘s Adagio for strings (Op. 11)
Performed by: The Choir of Trinity College
Album: Barber’s Adagio
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkObnNQCMtM


Photo: “Coral,” originally uploaded by Fran Villena

 

People Look Around October 6, 2008

Filed under: inspiration,music — jennsheridan @ 9:56 pm
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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
Falling
The truth is bigger than these drops of rain
Falling in the ocean
Falling

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

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

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

 

T.S. Eliot quote July 18, 2008

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
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You are the music while the music lasts.

~T.S. Eliot

 

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

 

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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Tools for the journey May 6, 2008

Nothing can stop the man with right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
~Thomas Jefferson

I’ve been focusing these past few months on the internal tools we have at our disposal to connect to Source and our inner wisdom, enabling us to embrace the guidance that is always available to us as we go through our life journey. Meditation, following your intuition, using a mantra, forgiveness, staying present–these are all powerful tools to help us on our path. And while nothing can replace that internal work and desire, you definitely don’t have to go it alone. There’s a whole world of external resources that can be very useful in providing guidance and confirmation that what we’re receiving intuitively really is coming from our inner wisdom.

Community. Perhaps the most obvious, ubiquitous, and useful place to look is in other people. Whether it be an individual or a community, the people we encounter in our lives are gifts from the divine. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of supportive spiritual centers out there. My personal favorite is Sacred Center New York. August Gold is perhaps the most transformational teacher you will ever have the privilege to encounter, or at the very least, that I have discovered so far on my own journey. This Center has an energy that is lighting up the whole of New York City, expanding its reach further and further each year. Not close to New York? That’s okay, there are many spiritual communities available to you. Religious Science International, United Centers for Spiritual Living, Unity, and Unitarian Universalist have churches all over the country that might appeal to you. There are also many independent churches, Zen centers, study groups, book clubs, even groups and workshops meeting at metaphysical bookstores. I trust you won’t have to look very far before you find a spiritual group within your community that would welcome your participation and provide you with loving support for your journey.

Readers. I am relatively new to the concept of receiving a “reading.” I never used to take the concept very seriously, possibly because I felt you needed to do it all on your own and possibly because I discounted the quality of the information that could be gleaned through this process. About a year ago, however, my ideas on this subject shifted, about the time that my ideas on most subjects were shifting. I heard a description of the readings that Caroline Reynolds does, talking about how she uses reading your chakras to help give you clarity and point you in a direction that will ultimately bring you a sense of fulfillment, and knew this was something I needed to do. Working with Caroline has provided not only guidance, but a sense of progress as my life begins to blossom in new and unexpected ways. She helps me to see how things are interconnected and where my blocks are so I can better focus the work I’m doing where it will have the most effect. Others I have worked with less extensively are Genevieve Vulser, an angel mediator, hypnotherapist, Reiki master, and spiritual teacher, and Belle Star, whose aura photography and readings guide her life coach practice.

I recommend working with someone whose work you are familiar with or who has helped a friend you trust. If this isn’t an option, check your local metaphysical bookstore to see who they would recommend. Make sure that the type of reading they provide resonates with you, is in alignment with the kind of guidance you are looking for. The thing to keep in mind with any reader is that they can only speak to where you are today. Anyone who is claiming to be able to see the future is really picking up on where your energy is now and looking at the natural evolution of that energy if it were to continue unfolding exactly as it is today. However, the future is always malleable, we can always set new intentions and make new choices that alter the path we are on. The information they provide is just a tool to help you steer your journey in the direction you choose. Think of it as a compass, showing you where you are headed in relation to your true north, and use it accordingly.

Movement. Connecting to the life force energy through movement can be very powerful and rejuvenating. Yoga is a wonderful option, especially if you go with one of the more spirit-oriented schools of thought, as opposed to those who look at Yoga purely for its exercise benefits. I personally prefer Hatha Yoga, as it feels like a holistic approach to the mind-body connection. While I haven’t yet had the pleasure of taking a class from him, the description I’ve heard of Ned Grant’s classes is exactly the kind of yoga I would enjoy participating in. From his website: “Yoga can be considered to be a two-step process, in which the first step is the focus of the mind, and the second is the release of energy that emerges as a result of that focus. In Hatha Yoga, the focus begins with what we do with the breath and the body.” Until I find a yogi like that in my neighborhood, I’m diving into my new love, Qigong. I get so much energy from this practice that I barely notice it is also exercise. I feel revitalized within the first few minutes of getting my Qi moving and its effects last throughout the day. If you’re interested in an introduction to Qigong, I would recommend picking up one of Lee Holden‘s DVDs.

Cards. Cards are a great tool for receiving messages or gaining clarity on what is coming to you intuitively. I am loving my tarot cards these days and find this tool to be a great asset to my daily guidance. Once you learn to read tarot cards you can do readings for yourself or for others, or if you’d prefer you can find a reader to look at the cards for you. Also handy are message cards like angel cards or daily affirmation cards. Ask the universe for what you need to know today and allow your intuition to pick a card–the message you receive is usually a great reminder of where you need to place your attention today for best results.

Pendulums and Crystals. A recent (re)discovery for me is the power of stones and crystals. All products of the earth have energy, and many crystals amplify your own energy in different ways depending on the crystal. I’ve found a handful of different stones and crystals that I meditate with, each with their own energy. If I need a boost to my intuition, I use one, but if I’m looking to open my heart I use another. Crystals make great pendulums as well, which are excellent tools for refining intuitive messages. Start by asking your pendulum simple questions so you can begin to see how it responds with its yes, no, and maybe or don’t know responses. Once you begin to develop a relationship with it, you can ask it questions you need clarity on and see which way it swings. It can take time for your confidence in this tool to grow, but the more confident you are, the more you can rely on its answers.

Sound. Having just spent a few days exploring the Globe Sound Healing Conference, I am especially aware of the ability of sound to open you up to a deeper connection to Source and a greater connection with your own inner wisdom. I had the pleasure of experiencing an alignment by a “crystal alchemist” my first morning at the conference. If you’re ever in Mount Shasta, you will definitely want to look up Crystal Tones at Mount Shasta–their crystal bowls are amazing, producing vibration that sings to your soul. Another pleasure was exploring the “percussive sculpture” of Bruce Gray, whose drums and rattles feel like they are alive. These are true pieces of art as well as powerful ways to connect to that primeval rhythm within. Music of all shapes and sizes provides a way for me to experience the divine, regardless of how I’m feeling or where my thoughts are running. Experiment with different musical forms, both participating and listening, and see what works for you.

These are really just a handful of the tools that are available to you at any given time. The takeaway here for me is that the world has so much to offer you, so much support to give you, so many avenues for you to explore. Your job is not to walk down every path or try on every tool for size, but to explore enough so that you’ve found a few tools that work for you and be open to new tools as they show up for you. Whether its a new person coming into your life or guitar lessons or a beautiful deck of angel cards, these tools are here for our enrichment. They don’t replace the guidance we receive from within, but they enhance it, providing us with the support of the universe’s loving arms. Relax, surrender, and enjoy the ride. Namaste.

Photo: “Daimonji path,” originally uploaded by Chris Gladis

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Best laid plans May 1, 2008

Filed under: inspiration,notes — jennsheridan @ 11:50 pm
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This week has left me wondering if it’s possible to have jet lag without getting on a plane or traveling from one time zone to another. My return from vacation has left me a wee bit disoriented this week and I’m having to completely let go of the idea that I am “on top of” just about anything. Ultimately, this is a very good thing for me, releasing me from my sea of “shoulds” and allowing me to just be. However it does mean that my idea of returning to our regularly scheduled programming this week was a little premature.

The good news is, I’ve got a lot of fun and exciting stuff going on…

Chinese Medicine. A lot of my time this week has been taken up with the basics of getting started with a Chinese medicine regimen. I’ve gone to the clinic twice this week for acupuncture and massage and I’m on day two of my yummy and delicious (yes, that was sarcastic) herbs. It’s all a lot more involved than I realized it was going to be when I signed on, but I really appreciate the holistic approach to wellness they take and feel like it dovetails nicely with my spirit-based approach. It feels like a way to release old patterns and behaviors and their effects on my body as I do the same with my mind.

Training Walks. As my walks get longer, more and more of my time is invested into my Avon Walk training. This weekend, I’m squeezing in a 14-miler on Sunday and a 7-miler on Monday. Even my weekday training is expanding, moving from 3 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays to 4 miles. I’m still loving the process and just going with the flow, enjoying the ride, and trying not to focus too much on the time aspect.

Globe Sound Healing Conference. I was recently introduced to sound healing and discovered there’s an institute in San Francisco that specializes in this concept. They have an annual conference that happens to be this weekend, and I managed to get myself on their mailing list in time to volunteer to work the conference in exchange for free admission. I am especially interested in anything having to do with voice and music, but really I find it all fascinating. I’m sure to learn a lot from this experience and I’ll have much to share with you all next week.

Family Visit. Next Thursday I head to Georgia to experience some true jet lag, traveling to visit my family there. I don’t know how much internet access I’ll have while I’m gone, but I am sure I will have plenty of stories when I return. Spending time with my family is wonderful on many levels, and provides me ample opportunities to practice what I’m learning. Wish me luck.

And, as always, I have a lot of things I want to share, but I will limit myself to just one today. CNN recently published a great article of Martha Beck’s from a back issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, entitled, “How to feast on joy every day.” In a world where dieting is ubiquitous, it was wonderful to read this article about truly feasting. Let me leave you with the thought that concludes this article:

“If you have a choice between a feast of love and any other option, go with love. Compared with other activities, love-feasts will mess up your life, complicate your career, wear you out, make you crazy. But I guarantee that when you look back over the time you’ve spent on earth, the feasts of love will be the events you’ll remember most joyfully, the experiences that will make you glad you have lived.”

Photo: “Distilled Moment,” originally uploaded by Angelo Juan Ramos