Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Happy Autumnal Equinox! September 22, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 11:39 pm
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I have mixed feelings about today. On the up side, fall is my absolutely favorite time of year. I love the change of weather, when the temperature begins to cool and evenings take on a crispness that encourages sweaters and jackets. I love when the leaves begin to change, exchanging their gorgeous greens for majestic reds, yellows, oranges and browns. I love school supplies filling the drugstores, with the clean, blank notebooks begging to be filled with fresh ideas. But it’s a mournful time too, as day and night share equal time today, signaling the beginning of our descent into darkness for the winter. It’s time to turn within, to connect to the wise Self and eternal Source within, staying quiet and leaving the boisterous extroversion of spring and summer behind for a spell.

Even living in a place where it stays warm so late in the year that leaves are still changing around Thanksgiving, fall is fall, and I always associate this time of year with new beginnings, with learning new things, with positive change. This year has felt sort of like fall has arrived every month, bringing regular change and inducing an ongoing sense of wonder at the world and my place in it. One of those changes is that for the first time, I am embracing the darkness, exploring the quiet stillness, the appearance of things coming to end, connecting with pieces of me that usual go unnoticed or ignored. I am not terribly interested in defining myself in concrete terms, perhaps because my self-definition is utterly fluid right now. What is much more up my alley right now is just being in the moment, seeing what shows up in it, and truly responding to it from the center of my being. What happens next is so much more powerful than what would have happened if I’d simply reacted or allowed my Intellect to interfere.

Life is an ongoing process, an experiment in becoming more — more of Who I Am, more of who I came here to be. It’s such a wild ride, unexpected and joyous and thought-provoking and vital. I’m simply excited to be here, excited that it’s fall, that it’s another season in the cycle of this crazy and incredible year, excited to see what I get to learn and be and do next, and excited to share bits and pieces of my journey with you. Namaste.

Photo: “Forever autumn,” originally uploaded by Josep Mª Rosell

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On Being Happy August 19, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 6:11 pm
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Do you remember how much fun it was to play as a kid? Just throw yourself whole hog into an activity, just about any activity, and see where it takes you. When I look back, I have to laugh at how many of my games were based somehow in tasks I would consider work today, like playing school, making mud pies, heck, I even ran my own imaginary hotel. I loved this page out of Chellie Campbell‘s The Wealthy Spirit reminding me of the simple fun of playing in the ooze. Reaching the goal was never half as fun as the creation process, yet as grownups the end is just about the only thing we focus our energy on. Just think about how much fun we’re missing out on!

On Being Happy
Day 95 of The Wealthy Spirit by Chellie Campbell

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
~Marcus Aurelius

As human beings are creatures of endless desire and hunger for betterment, it is our nature to always want to improve ourselves and our circumstances. This can be a positive force, motivating us onward to greater glorious goods for ourselves and for others. However, one can become lost in the constant search and craving for the next best thing, so trapped in future imaginings that we discount and ignore the accomplishments of the past evidenced in our present.

The art of happiness is an act of balance. We need to appreciate the process while we work within its creative ooze, the end results as yet unformed, like elements banging against each other in search of becoming sentient. As children playing with mud pies, the fun is in the making: baking in the golden sun, fingers sticky with mud-paint, grass-stained knees, brow wrinkled with concentration, searching for the perfect fine-grained dark earth to fashion into visionary pie. Day’s end will come soon enough, no need to hurry to completion, for then the fun is over. Rejoice in the dreaming, glory in the doing, and let the dirt clods fall where they may.

Now, today, with your own mud-luscious imagined inventions, play with the ooze and be happy.

Today’s Affirmation: “I am a rich child playing happily in Life’s rich playground.”

Photo: “A Boy’s Work is Never Done,” originally uploaded by KellyB.

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Drifting February 17, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 12:20 am
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I have to laugh at myself sometimes. Yesterday, my thinkArete.com Big Idea that comes in a daily email was about “drifting.” It essentially was talking about the patterns we fall into that take us off course, that distance us from our Source, from our goals. Some of the examples he uses of ways we all drift are: “blame, criticize (my personal favorite), judge, lecture, ignore, explain, or withdraw. If, for some odd reason those don’t work, just try these: control, be sarcastic (!), procrastinate, watch TV, complain, get overwhelmed, justify, go shopping, (whatever you do, definitely!) don’t breathe, interrupt, get righteous, space out or worry.”

The reason this makes me laugh is that yesterday, I drifted. Not all day, but for a substantial portion of it. Mostly I was in to withdrawing, procrastinating, and spacing out, but I’m sure there were other things in there as well. While there were several reasons for that drift, at the end of the day, aren’t they all just excuses? Isn’t it all just your ego throwing up resistance to keep you off balance? The funniest part about it all is that I was completely aware of what was happening. I observed myself getting off track and instead of taking steps to rectify the situation, I threw myself into it whole hog. Perhaps that is why I was able to, from time to time, pull myself out of it long enough to clean the kitchen, make the lasagna I’m entertaining with this evening, take a friend to the airport. And perhaps it is also why I was able to get up this morning and get back on track without a massive effort. My home is spotless, I did my 4 mile training walk, went to the farmer’s market, and I still have time to sit down and do a blog post before I get ready for my guests to arrive this evening.

Today’s thinkArete.com Big Idea was about “shifting,” what we do when we want to “get back into Ease and Flow.” The gist is that we have to breathe, and breathe again, and breathe some more, which I take to mean we have to take time for conscious connection to Source, and to ourselves. It certainly feels significantly better than drifting does, you can actually feel the shift taking place in your body. And I suppose that is what life is about, really. While we all strive to be on track 100% of the time, we’re human, and we make mistakes, we drift off course. The trick is not to stay there, to make sure we take the time to shift, to reorient ourselves so that we’re moving in the direction we consciously are choosing to, the direction that feels like it is taking us towards our goals. And be gentle with ourselves in the process. I don’t know about you, but I can always use a reminder of that. Namaste.


Blossoming February 13, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 5:30 pm
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I already feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster and it’s only 9:30! I woke up this morning really tense, my whole body aching from head to toe. I’d had a long night of not sleeping well, presumably because my back hurt but substantially because I’ve had underlying money worries all week. I dragged myself out of bed a little before 6, set myself up on the couch with an ice pack, and started to do my morning pages. I grumbled for a little while but finally just started asking myself questions. What is it going to take for me not to let stress show up in my body? What do I need to learn in order to kick my money issues once and for all? What is the source of this fear that I can feel rumbling around in my tummy?

The bottom line? As Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” The more I recognize that I need to take risks, the push myself out of my shell, to claim my power, the louder the voice of fear becomes in my head. But as Anais Nin said, “And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I know that this change is necessary and I know that now is the time and I know that I am ready to live my life like Ellis suggests: “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.” Yeah baby, yeah!

So I got out a pad of paper and wrote down each of my fears on its own page. Then I went back and added the old patterns that surface, enabling those fears to gain footing in my consciousness. I took my 11 slips of paper, a pile of pillows, and a whiffle bat and I bashed each fear or pattern. Hallelujah! The paper was really too light for this process and so it would float up in the air, which immediately made me laugh. So I kept bashing and laughing and bashing and laughing until I felt completely filled with love and light and laughter. The weight of those fears and patterns had lifted. I danced around my living room for a little while, high on the feeling of lightness, then scooped up the slips of paper and held a burning bowl ritual. I took the slips one by one, stated my intention for what I am now accepting in my life, and watched the words burn away, going back into the nothingness from whence they came. When I was done, I took out my sage and smudged myself and my apartment, acknowledging that today is a new day, and that I am starting fresh.

I find ritual soothing, a way of getting a message out of my head and into my body. While it might not be necessary in order to affect change, for me it feels like one of the better tools in my toolbox, a tried and true method of getting things to move in a direction that feels good. Like anything else, it’s a process, and I may need to do another ritual next week, next month, or even tomorrow, but for right now, I feel free to fly. Namaste.


The grounding, Part II February 7, 2008

This process of grounding is truly a process. While I did finish the task I set out to accomplish yesterday, it did not leave me with the feeling of relief and order that I was hoping for. The good news is that I can now be lazy and not have to look for things (ha ha ha). The bad news is that it seems the whole apartment needs this type of overhaul. Our place is pretty small and our hobbies tend to take up a lot of space. The office bears the brunt of this and until we have more room in which to set up a system of organization that can actually be maintained, order really needs to be restored fairly regularly or we just have to live with the consequences. Office aside, the kitchen really needs to be tackled, and then when that’s done, I should really do something about old magazines, and then go through the paperbacks to see which ones can be donated to new homes, and then there are closets that need some reorienting, and then . . .

When does it end? At what point does getting organized become just being a perfectionist, or only seeing what’s wrong instead of being able to see what’s right? Or is that just “all or nothing” thinking, where if one thing is organized then everything else should be, and if one thing is disorganized everything might as well be? And what about Nietzsche’s discovery, “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star” — where is there room for my creative chaos?

As with everything else, it seems, I need to find a balance here. Order enables me to be still, to reduce distractions, to see clearly, and chaos enables me to mix things up, to get silly and crazy and messy and see what happens. Order provides the grounding so that when I am open at the top, truly connected to that divine creativity that is calling me to expand, I can be stretched yet maintain my connection to the earth. One of the reasons I love Yael Naim’s Far Far so much is that she’s talking about that birthing process, praying for something to happen to her, feeling the beautiful mess inside and recognizing where it will lead. “I guess I’ll have to give it birth / To give it birth / There’s a beautiful mess inside and it’s everywhere.” Sometimes things have to get messy before we can get clear, but that mess needs space in which it can live and breathe and feel safe once the birthing process is complete.

So I will continue to ground myself, to get organized and nurture myself and my family. And I will continue to reach out into the stars, to let things get a little messy and see where it leads, knowing that I have laid the foundation that makes it possible for me to find order and clarity when I need to. Namaste.


Great expectations December 20, 2007

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 7:31 pm
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This week has been an emotional week for me. It could be that I’m PMSing, although I suspect that just magnifies things. I think the real culprit here is expectations. I’ve been on a spiritual path for over 15 years now, and while I have grown and changed significantly throughout that time, one thing that has not changed is the high expectations I have for myself, and as a result for others. If anything, it has just gotten worse. Instead of focusing on how far I’ve come, on how much more love and joy and peace I have in my life, I often focus on the old patterns that still come up for me, on how my buttons are still pushable, on the ways in which I am still flawed.

I had an experience this week where someone pushed my buttons and I ended up bawling my eyes out. I knew that the situation had nothing to do with me really, that they were just looking for someone to lash out at and I was there, but it still hurt like the dickens and brought up all sorts of self-worth (and self-doubt) issues. The good news is that instead of sinking into a depression over it, like I might have done in the past, I worked myself out of it, turned it around and got myself back into a happy, peaceful place. I’m patting myself on the back for it now mostly because all I could think about yesterday was how I’d let my buttons get pushed in the first place. Today I am choosing to give myself a break, to recognize how the way I responded still changed an old pattern and how much better my day ended up because of it. Kudos to me.

The other thing I’m recognizing today as I consider that situation is how it was the expectations I’d set for the other person that ended up making me feel so blue. Instead of just letting them be them, I had hoped for, wished for, prayed for something different. When the same ol’, same ol’ came up instead, I let myself be hurt by it. There are other people in my life that when they make the same mistakes over and over again, all I can do is laugh (in a “what can you do?” kind of way). Partially because if you don’t laugh, you cry. And partially because I recognize that this is part of who they are, and until they recognize for themselves that the pattern isn’t working, it isn’t going to change.

So now my challenge to myself (and to anyone else who cares to join me) is to find a way to apply that perception shift across the board. Our loved ones have their flaws, but we love them anyway. Let’s not set expectations for them that they cannot meet. Instead, let’s try to see their true spirit through those flaws, and love them for that. And love ourselves in the process too. Namaste.