Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Creativity Explosion! March 1, 2010

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 6:19 pm
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I just love how much my creative juices are flowing right now! The new year brought a bubbling up of ideas that hasn’t really stopped. While I don’t necessarily have time to act on these ideas, I’m still spending an hour or two a day nursing, which means me and the baby in a dark room with minimal stimulus — ideal conditions for creative flow. I absolutely love being plugged in and just allowing things to flow out of me. It’s almost like an idea faucet — once the faucet is on, it flows all the time. I’m taking notes in meetings, when I get out of the shower, in the car. It’s a beautiful thing!

The year kicked off with the idea for a book. And then another book. And then last week a third book came to the surface. When I set my goals for the first three months of the year, I included “complete book outline,” thinking I knew what that meant. Well, I’m very excited to say that I have completed a book outline as of today — just not the one I had in mind in January!

The great thing is I’m getting to practice what I preach. I may not have hours that I can sit down and “work on my book,” but I do have a few minutes here and there to take notes. Sometimes those notes are really brief sketches so I will remember what I was thinking later. Other times they are full and complete paragraphs. In an amazingly short amount of time I’ve thoroughly sketched out what I’d like for this book to include, taking notes for each of the eight chapters, and even written a few paragraphs for most of the chapters. This it the ultimate in taking things one moment at a time, not getting caught up in what tomorrow will bring, and redefining what it means to get things done. Booyah!

Wish me luck on this new creative journey. I may not know exactly where it will lead, but I sure am having fun in the meantime! Namaste.

Photo: “Crayola Lincoln Logs,” originally uploaded by laffy4k


The way we stand April 24, 2009

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 12:19 pm
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I love that Earth Day is celebrated with such vigor these days. Or maybe it just seems like that because so many of my friends on Facebook chose to proclaim their love and gratitude for Mother Earth this week. But it helped create a sense of celebration in me, anyway, and opened me up to that deep connection we all share with each other and with the energy of our beautiful planet. So really, it’s no surprise that this morning I was drawn to that favorite of mine, Earth Prayers. And within this phenomenal collection of “prayers, poems, and invocations for honoring the earth,” I was drawn to one of my favorite pieces of Susan Griffin’s that speaks so eloquently to that connection. Enjoy, and namaste.

The way we stand, you can see we have grown up this way together, out of the same soil, with the same rains, leaning in the same way towards the sun. See how we lean together in the same direction. How the dead limbs of one of us rest in the branches of another. How those branches have grown around the limbs. How the two are inseparable. And if you look, you can see the different ways we have taken this place into us. Magnolia, loblolly bay, sweet gum, Southern bayberry, Pacific bayberry; wherever we grow there are many of us; Monterey pine, sugar pine, white-bark pine, four-leaf pine, single-leaf pine, bristle-cone pine, foxtail pine, Torrey pine, Western red pine, Jeffrey pine, bishop pine.

And we are various, and amazing in our variety, and our differences multiply, so that edge after edge of the endlessness of possibility is exposed. You know we have grown this way for years. And to no purpose you can understand. Yet what you fail to know we know, and the knowing is in us, how we have grown this way, why these years were not one of them heedless, why we are shaped the way we are, not all straight to your purpose, but to ours. And how we are each purpose, how each cell, how light and soil are in us, how we are in the soil, how we are in the air, how we are both infinitesimal and great and how we are infinitely without any purpose you can see, in the way we stand, each alone, yet none of us separable, none of us beautiful when separate but all exquisite as we stand, each moment heeded in this cycle, no detail unlovely.

~ Susan Griffin from Earth Prayers

Photo: “Path Through the Trees,” originally uploaded by Tony


Standing in the place you were born for June 30, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 9:26 pm
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You are the music while the music lasts.
~T. S. Eliot

Have you ever had that feeling where you know that what you’re doing right now, in this moment, is exactly what you need to be doing, absolutely necessary for you to be doing, an integral part of the cosmic dance? Everything just flows, you open your mouth and the right words come out, you feel content from head to toe, completely plugged in and radiant.

Of course, we all know what it feels like not to be in that place, doing work that feels like a drudgery, that feels disconnected and kludgey and just plain not fun. It’s the subject of countless happy hours with co-workers, phone calls with friends, and journal entries. But when you have the good feeling, the absolutely right-on feeling, what do you do with it? Do you talk about it with the same passion, give it the same amount of energy all that negative feeling was allotted? Or do you hold it in, feeling for whatever reason that it is something to be kept to yourself, maybe protected, maybe savored, but shared with only a few and glossed over at best? It’s as if as a society we really just can’t get enough of that icky feeling. We use it as part of our bonding with friends and co-workers, and have an uncomfortable feeling when we’re around people who are happy, genuinely content with their work.

I feel blessed to have experienced being in the place I was born for just yesterday, and I’m still a little high from it. Man, oh, man, I genuinely believe if more people were doing their work, feeling that feeling, a paradigm shift would take place. I can feel that shift taking place within me around the other pieces of the pie that make up the bigger picture of my work. I was gifted with an experience this morning where I had the opposite sense the work I was doing, where everything was a struggle and I could feel discontentment radiating out from my core. The timing was perfect as coming off of that high from yesterday made me much more conscious of it. I now know that I have some work to do there to ascertain whether it was just resistance being thrown up or if it was genuine discord. If it’s the former, then it’s time for me to clear my channel and pave the way for the work to flow through me. If it’s the latter, then I will need to find a way to extricate myself from that work gently yet expediently.

It’s a gift, really, to be able to recognize in the moment what isn’t working for you so that you can take the steps to shift the situation. Some of those steps may be relatively small, dealing with your approach to the work or the people involved with a project. And some of those steps will be relatively large, requiring a career change or a leap of faith into the unknown. But whatever it takes to get you on the track towards doing your life’s work, the work you were truly born to be doing, is well worth it. What steps can you take this week or even today to help bring you into alignment with your true calling? Even if it’s the teeniest baby step you can image, give yourself the gift of taking one this week. Let me know how it goes! Namaste.

Photo: “shining through,” originally uploaded by jim simonson

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When Death Comes June 5, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 12:17 am
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I feel like the clouds parted and let the light shine brightly into my life today. I had been feeling untethered, but today I am full of newfound purpose. Thinking about the Anais Nin quote, “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 felt drawn to my lovely book, Risking Everything. The first poem speaks to today’s enthusiasm for living life to its fullest. Namaste.

When Death Comes
by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Photo: “Daisy Refraction,” originally uploaded by Audrey


A New Earth — Your Inner Purpose May 7, 2008

Filed under: a new earth — jennsheridan @ 8:29 pm
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Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the ninth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

“There is always only this one step, and so you give it your fullest attention. This doesn’t mean you don’t know where you are going; it just means this step is primary, the destination secondary. And what you encounter at your destination once you get there depends on the quality of this one step.”
~Eckhart Tolle,
A New Earth

This chapter, Your Inner Purpose, was by far my favorite in A New Earth. Don’t get me wrong, the whole book, this whole web event series, has been wonderful, but this one spoke to a deep place in my soul. My apologies for continuing to be a week behind the live class, but I really wanted to give this chapter the time and attention it deserved.

I think this whole chapter can be summed up by my favorite expression: “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” I love how Eckhart talks about this concept, gives it his own spin and increases my own understanding of it. He speaks of inner purpose and outer purpose. Your inner purpose is about BEING, is about awakening, and is always primary. Your outer purpose is about DOING, and is always secondary. When we usually talk about our life’s purpose, we are talking about the doing, and almost without fail we have placed this doing in the future. True purpose is in the present moment, whether it comes from being or doing. Its focus is not on the destination–its focus is on this one step, whatever it is that is occurring right now, in this moment.

I’ve found myself this week becoming aware of what I’m doing in the moment and saying, “My life’s purpose is to be doing this.” So right now, my life’s purpose is to be writing my blog post. Just saying that immediately makes me expand, makes me more aware, enables me to feel my aliveness and allow the words to flow through me and into my fingers. I am one with life and my inner purpose–I am awakening.

I could probably end right there–that AHA! has carried me through the week and I expect I’ll be playing with it for weeks to come. That one concept opens up my field of awareness and makes me feel so energized, so alive, so fully present, and allows me to distance myself from what has been my goal these past few months, which is to uncover my outer purpose. But the thing is, living from the inner purpose IS the path to the outer purpose. As Eckhart says, once you realize that the primary purpose of your life is the inner purpose, to awaken, then the secondary purpose, the outer purpose, falls into place. By being true to life, being true to this moment, the now, life will become helpful, bringing to you whatever is most appropriate in terms of aligning your inner and outer purpose. This is when the synchronicity associated with following your bliss begins to occur and the world shows up for you, supporting you and providing for you.

There may be a period of uncertainty while your inner and outer purpose come into alignment, but that’s the whole thing about life being a journey and not a destination–life is an adventure, full of the unknown and therefore full of possibility. When you embrace the uncertainty, you open the door for opportunities to arise. When you resist the uncertainty, you block the flow from making itself manifest in your experience. I loved when Oprah was talking about letting the light shine through you. An image came to me, that we are here to become translucent and in so doing, we let the light of consciousness or awareness or presence, whatever you choose to call it, shine through. When this light shines through us, then the light becomes fuel for whatever it is we are doing. That’s when we have the full power of the universe available to us.

Eckhart spoke of his writing practice, and it’s one that I want to take into my week and try out for myself. He said that it was never about the end result. If he’d been trying to write a great book whose purpose was to bring awakening to the planet, he would have been getting in his own way. Instead, he was coming from the place of inner stillness. He listened to the voice that told him it was time to write, and sat down with a pen, a notebook, and the stillness. When a thought came to him he would utilize his intellect to review this thought for its truth, for its quality. If it made sense, then he would write it down. If it didn’t, then he would let it go and return to the stillness, allowing the next thought to come. It’s a small moment, focused on the inner purpose, but when those moments stack, what unfolds leads to greatness. Take this attitude, this approach into everything you do this week and watch how it changes the work you are doing. Namaste.

Photo: “Autumn Stream,” originally uploaded by Kimberly

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A New Earth — The Core of Ego March 18, 2008

Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the third week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. . . . The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into this world.
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Another great week with the A New Earth web event based, of course, on another great chapter of the book A New Earth. I’m having a lot of fun with this process, especially knowing how widespread it is. Crossing the street to go to the theatre Sunday night, I overheard two women talking about the book and the webinars, women who probably wouldn’t have come to this experience without Oprah’s help. It totally feels like Oprah is inciting a revolution of consciousness, and I, for one, am happy to be a part of it!

As always, there is nothing new under the sun–Eckhart is simply providing a new perspective on spiritual teachings that have been available to us for millenia. There’s just something about the way he does it, about his personal presence and his interplay with Oprah, that I’m finding truly inspirational and entirely practicable. I love taking this stuff out into the world each day and applying it in new ways and seeing what happens. Here are a few of the highlights from this week’s class that I’m looking forward to playing with this week:

* Your true power lies in being yourself. This was the strongest message for me this week, even though it was a relatively small part of the class. Perhaps because someone like Oprah is involved in this process, the power of this concept becomes larger than life. As Oprah herself said, and Eckhart confirmed as well, Oprah’s success has essentially been because of her ability to be herself on television. She spoke of her early career as an anchorwoman and how she would put on a persona when she was behind the desk, and how that broke down for her and she learned to be herself. Her show reaches so many viewers because people see her as genuine, as authentic, as someone they can relate to and talk to themselves. It calls to mind the idea that August Gold and so many others have talked about in terms of there being a place for you in this world and you are the only person who can fill it. You are unique, and when you show up fully as yourself, it’s as if the universe recognizes an alignment and works to empower it even further.

* Change begins with you. There is only one person you can directly change and that is yourself. As much as we do not want those close to us to suffer, as much as we want to be able to help raise them out of their suffering, ultimately that responsibility is theirs. That’s not to say that you cannot be there for them, support them, provide assistance to them, however the only person you can change in this situation is you. The best thing you can do for yourself, and ultimately for anyone, is to bring yourself into a place of awareness, of presence. Being present with your loved one, not wanting anything for them, just being conscious when you’re with them, gives them a space in which they might be able to begin to heal. If you find your thoughts slipping into worry regularly, take time to get out of your mind and go into your body, feeling its aliveness, several times throughout the day. Worry itself is a condition of the ego–what is worry but thoughts chasing themselves around in a circle? It serves no purpose other than to pull you into the ego and keep you trapped in a place where it is difficult to stay present. Worry pretends to be necessary, but it doesn’t actually have a useful purpose–becoming aware of this will help you to step back, detach from the worry, and help you to find the present moment, the only moment, the now.

* Complaining does not serve a purpose. Complaining, like worry, has no real purpose. It’s a way of getting stuck in something that has happened in the past, but nothing comes of it. Complaining isn’t usually intended to help correct a situation–it is more often a side effect of taking things personally and is tied up in the need to be right and make someone else wrong. When you bring someone else into the complaining, it’s the ego’s way of seeking validation and strengthening your position. Now, this does not mean that you cannot take action to bring about change in a situation. Eckhart’s example from the second chapter was about what happens when the soup you ordered is served cold. If you pitch a fit and complain to your dinner companions and yell at the waiter making him wrong, then the ego has taken over. However, if you take the ego out of it, you can simply state what the situation is without negativity. You aren’t making the waiter wrong, your ego is not invested in the outcome, you are just looking to rectify the situation and have a delicious meal. When your goal is to resolve a situation without blame, often things go much more smoothly–as the other people involved aren’t being made to feel wrong, they aren’t as likely to feel the need to make you wrong, reducing or eliminating the conflict.

* Consume mindfully. Someone called in about being aware of things she shouldn’t do and doing them anyway, for example eating French fries or drinking too much. Eckhart spoke about how the ego lives in a constant state of “not enough,” so it is always seeking things to fill itself up, like food or alcohol or things. The problem isn’t the the consumption itself–the problem is in the overconsumption, going along with the ego’s “more, more, more!” mentality. So don’t ban yourself from eating French fries or drinking wine or having dessert, but bring mindfulness, awareness, consciousness into your consumption. When eating French fries, eat each one consciously, enjoying it, savoring every bite. Pay attention to your body as you go. It is likely that after a few French fries, your body will send signals letting you know it doesn’t need any more, whether it’s that you’re not hungry any longer or they just aren’t as pleasurable as they were when you started. The goal is to not pass this point from enjoyment into eating the French fries because they’re there or because you’re sad or whatnot. You can apply this to anything. When you’re drinking a glass of wine, enjoy each sip until you reach the place where you’ve had enough. Savor each bite of tiramisu, but put your fork down after the last bite that truly feels pleasurable. The flavor and enjoyment is usually in the first couple of bites of anything. If you are truly present and listen to your body, you won’t feel the need to overdo.

As always, it’s about bringing more awareness into your daily life. This moment is the only one that is real, so notice it, experience it, be truly aware of it, then let it go and move on to the next one. It is literally a life-changing process, allowing you to awaken to your own magnificence. Have a little fun with it, and let me know how it goes! Namaste.

Photo: “Hypericum Chinense – Core,” originally uploaded by Jun

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A New Earth: The Flowering of Human Consciousness March 4, 2008

Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the first week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

I just want to start by saying how awesome I think it is that over half a million people turned out for last night’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose web event, where Oprah and Eckhart Tolle spoke with each other and several participants about the background of this book and the contents of the first chapter. Wow! What an incredibly exciting time to be awake and aware on this planet. From my perspective, even if only a small percentage really get this book, it will still be revolutionary in terms of a consciousness shift on our planet. That said, I was disappointed I didn’t get to watch it “live.” The huge turnout affected some people’s ability to watch the webcast live, including mine–about 18 minutes into the 90-minute event, my viewer crashed completely and I wasn’t able to get back in, so I downloaded it today to catch back up again.

While there is nothing new under the sun, getting a new perspective always brings new Aha! moments to light for me, and this was no exception. In addition to just enjoying Eckhart’s gentle presence, I was pleased to feel a shift in me in watching this program even after having already read the first chapter twice through. Plus, the power of knowing how you are part of a global consciousness is simply amazing. Overall, I would say participating in this process is well worth just about anyone’s time and attention. Here are the highlights from my perspective:

What does life want from me? So much of our energy gets focused on what it is that we want from life. When you’re awakening to your life’s purpose, a better question might be what does life want from me? Eckhart talked about asking this question everyday for years without an answer. When it finally came, he had an impulse, a feeling like something wanted to be born. Instead of coming to a place where he wanted to write a book, he realized that a book wanted to be written. I loved this concept of allowing your purpose to come through you in such a conscious manner. As much as I know in my head that life is answering your prayers through you, this concept opened up expansively for me with this slightly different way of looking at things. I will be interested to see how this affects the way that I view the messages I receive moving forward from here.

Global change begins within. This is one that I’ve known for years but always appreciate a deepening understanding. It is essentially Ghandi’s thoughts on being the change you want to see in the world. If you look around you and see a world in need of a consciousness shift, then begin that consciousness shift in the only way you can–within yourself. In the case of A New Earth, it’s about breaking down the dysfunction of the ego, the thing in your head that is constantly chattering, constantly throwing up thoughts and fears to distract you from being aware of who you really are. At a global level, this egoic dysfunction is the source of warfare, oppression, poverty, disease. If you want to be a part of mining this dysfunction from the world, begin by mining it within you, on the scale that is appropriate to you, which mostly means your negative, pessimistic, fear-based thoughts and patterns. Start by becoming aware and begin to shift yourself, and you will ultimately affect the world.

All you need is now. While our thought processes have evolved through thousands of years of conditioning, it doesn’t take years and years to reverse. All you need is the present moment. Take a moment right now to breathe and notice the breath–that was you shifting your consciousness into the present, even if it was just for a second. It’s the kind of exercise that can be practiced throughout the day. For me, appreciation of beauty is a huge way for me to connect with the oneness and return to the present moment. Driving, walking, looking out the window–take a moment to really soak up the beauty around you, to really see it and appreciate it. You will instantly feel the shift in your body, in your mind as you open up to this awareness. The more we can find these moments throughout the day, the more we are shifting our thought processes away from the old patterns and habits that our ego is holding onto into the awareness of who we really are. Eckhart suggests any time you do a simple action, like washing your hands or walking up the stairs, pull your consciousness fully into that action. When you’re on your way to work, really be on your way to work, not there already in your head. Now is the only moment you have–make sure you are experiencing it.

Towards the end of the program an email came in about whether or not the world is ready for this type of shift. The answer lies in a different question, the only question any of us can really answer–am I ready? When I ask this question of myself, I know for sure that I am ready (and now doubly motivated) to take time each day to pay attention, to experience the stillness in the present moment, to ask life what it wants from me. What about you, are you ready?

Photo: “lotus-blooming,” originally uploaded by Jun

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