Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Eleonora Duse quote June 19, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
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If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive . . .

~ Eleonora Duse

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Frida Kahlo July 26, 2008

Filed under: art — jennsheridan @ 2:13 pm
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I was blessed to be able to view the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art yesterday. While much of her work appears to be full of sorrow and suffering, there’s a cathartic quality to it and rays of sunlight shine through from time to time. The image above is my favorite from the exhibit, full of energy and vibrancy and life. In her short life, Frida produced a range of powerful pieces influenced by love and sorrow, joy and pain, passion and suppression. It is my belief that in the end, she found the deep peace that comes from within, from an understanding that pleasure and pain are transitory. It is definitely an exhibit worth exploring, although I would recommend going in the morning on a weekday so you have some time to linger away from the press of the crowds.

Image: Frida Kahlo. Sun and Life. 1947. Oil on Masonite. 40 x 49.5 cm. Private collection.

 

The Return July 21, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 6:21 pm
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I’m indulging in the simple pleasures right now. Watching movies: I saw both The Dark Knight (great but, well, dark) and Mamma Mia! (a whole lot of rip-roaring fun) this weekend; reading books: I’ve embarked on a journey of reading all of Agatha Christie‘s books in chronological order; and sitting around with my feet very firmly up.

This poem came to my attention last week posted on a bulletin board in the hallway shared by a bookstore and restaurant in Half Moon Bay. It conjured up similar feelings to those I’ve had over this past year’s journey. As I post it today, I’m hoping it will help me to motivate to spread my wings back out and set out on a new leg of my journey soon. And perhaps it will work that way for you, too. Namaste.

The Return
by Geneen Marie Haugen

Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.

Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces

of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.

Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.

If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,

you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.

And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language

to teach them, without a compass
bearing to a forgotten border where
no one crosses without weeping
for the terrible beauty of galaxies

and granite and bone. They tremble,
hoping your lips hold a secret,
that the song your body now sings
will redeem them, yet they fear

your secret is dangerous, shattering,
and once it flies from your astonished
mouth, they–like you–must disintegrate
before unfolding tremulous wings.

Photo: “Dreams of a Journey,” origianlly uploaded by Laura Chifiriuc

 

The power of perspective June 10, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 3:20 pm
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Byron Katie’s “The Work” brings inquiry to your thoughts and enables you to free yourself of the stress and frustration and depression they bring. Eckhart Tolle calls our attention to the three levels of every situation: what is happening, your reaction to what is happening, and your awareness of both of these levels. Abraham talks about bringing awareness to your thoughts when you’re not feeling great and choosing a thought that feels better. Lately, for me, I’ve been practicing my awareness by asking whether it’s the situation itself or my thoughts about the situation that are making me feel the way I do.

It’s such a simple way of looking at things, a small adjustment, really, in the larger mix of how we view the world, yet it holds such power. It is playing a huge role in how I am approaching my work this week. This time last week I had a single freelancing project I was working on, with the remainder of my time being invested into my own personal growth and various aspects of my Avon Walk training. By Thursday, I was working on a book project, had a fast-approaching deadline on a relatively large freelance project, and I was talking with the folks at the Hoffman Institute about working for them part-time. This weekend I walked over 30 miles and by the time Monday rolled around, I was exhausted and wondering how on earth I was going to fit all of these moving parts into a cohesive life.

This one awareness practice turned my energy around. I quickly realized that it wasn’t the situation that was causing me stress, it was the way I was thinking about the situation. I’ve known for months now that I have more than enough time to get everything done yet I still feel time pressure. That isn’t reality, that’s just my perception of reality. So I called myself on my thoughts, noticed they were just thoughts, and stopped accepting those thoughts as the truth. And then I got to work. At the end of the day, I was able to get everything done I needed to, and then some, with time to spare. My stress was gone, replaced with a sense of peace and trust in the process, which felt MUCH better than the alternative!

So today, as I prepare to go work in an office for two days, I have a choice about how I look at this work. I can either see it as taking away from my precious time for myself, taking away from my time to get other work done, taking away from my time to train and all of the wonderful chores that go along with training, or I can realize that these thoughts cause stress, a stress that isn’t necessary or useful in any way. Instead, I am choosing to see this work as an opportunity for me to get out into the world and interact with people, using what I’ve learned over the past few months and applying it to a more traditional style of work. With this perspective, I am looking forward to my day today, looking forward spending time with people engaged in a different sort of activity.

This is the power of a single practice. What thoughts are causing you stress today? Can you see a way to look at the situation from a different perspective, one that doesn’t cause you stress? Have some fun playing with this concept today and see what you learn about yourself and how your thoughts affect your day. Namaste.

Photo: “Peaceful,” originally uploaded by Tony Lam

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Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement June 2, 2008

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1st Agreement: Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip with others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

~Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

 

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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I am Life’s Anchor May 16, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 6:52 pm
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“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We are powerful beyond measure, and as Marianne Williamson says, it is our greatest fear. There is safety and comfort in conformity, in staying small, however there is no truth, no passion, no divinity. To find these things we must expand into Who We Really Are, stand up and be seen for the unique, individualized expressions of Life that each of us is at the core of our being.

This morning I was told of an exercise that August Gold has been using lately in her classes at Sacred Center New York. I’ve been playing with it today and I love how powerful it is and yet how playful it is. The truth I’ve recently come to know about myself is that I am Peaceful, Powerful, and Playful, so it isn’t surprising that this exercise speaks to me. I find that it connects me with that larger truth of my being that I am only just beginning to let myself see, let alone the rest of the world. There is no place to hide within this exercise, but because it is fun, I am able to get out of my own way and let it flow. Here’s how it works:

You take the alphabet and create an affirmation around each of the 26 letters. Begin each affirmation with “I am Life’s . . .” and then insert a word the begins with that letter of the alphabet. You can use any word that feels good in place of Life–Source, God, the Universe, Divine Intelligence, etc. If something unusual comes up that doesn’t instantly make sense, play with it for a bit and see where it leads you. For example, “I am Life’s Dandelion,” might not be immediately clear, but if you let it unfold you might get, “I am Life’s Dandelion, spreading the seeds of truth wherever I go.”

You might be surprised at what comes up for you, which concepts make you uncomfortable and which ones resonate immediately. But remember, the truth of Who You Are is powerful beyond measure. Let go, have a little fun with it, and see where it leads you. Namaste.

My first set:

I am Life’s Anchor, connecting the divine to the earth.
I am Life’s Basin, collecting all wisdom that flows my way.
I am Life’s Caterpillar, about to become a beautiful butterfly.
I am Life’s Dancing Queen.
I am Life’s Expanding consciousness.
I am Life’s Friend, opening my heart to all who cross my path.
I am Life’s Guide, sharing what I’ve learned through my life’s exploration.
I am Life’s Hymn, expressing my joy through song.
I am Life’s Imagination.
I am Life’s Jenny Boo Boo, bringing joy and playfulness wherever I go.
I am Life’s Kick-ass Slickrock Woman, capable of doing anything or going anywhere I so choose.
I am Life’s Looking glass, reflecting Love and Light back into the world.
I am Life’s Magic carpet ride, transporting myself and others into the magic of the world around us.
I am Life’s Nowhere (now here).
I am Life’s Open book, showing up as 100% myself with nothing to hide.
I am Life’s Piecrust, ready to be filled with all the yummy goodness life has to offer.
I am Life’s Qi, allowing the energy of the universe to flow through me.
I am Life’s Revealer, healing through revealing the truth of the divinity within.
I am Life’s Superball, always bouncing back.
I am Life’s Tulip, blossoming beautifully.
I am Life’s Umbrella, finding joy even in the hardest rain.
I am Life’s Vibrant vitality.
I am Life’s Well-being.
I am Life’s X ray, seeing through the appearances to find the gift in every situation.
I am Life’s Yin and yang, balancing my masculine and feminine energies.
I am Life’s Zigzag–my path may not always be straight, but I know that life’s a journey not a destination.

Photo: “joy,” originally uploaded by Martin Talbot

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