Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Waiting July 23, 2009

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 4:03 pm
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“I’m a lover of reality. When I argue with What Is, I lose, but only 100% of the time.”
~ Byron Katie

It’s less than a week until my due date. While it feels like I’ve been pregnant for years, if I went into labor today, the baby would still be early. Time is definitely an illusion here towards the end. The good news is, we’ve gotten quite a bit done in the past couple of weeks. The amazing thing is how much there is (and always will be) left to do. I am definitely reminded of Abraham: “We are all on a perpetual cycle of joyous becoming. We will never get it done, ever, ever, ever, ever.” So while we aren’t “done,” we are ready. The car seat installation has been inspected (and approved). The hospital bags are (mostly) packed. We’ve lined up a friend to take care of our cats for us while we’re at the hospital. My birthing bracelet is complete, and beautiful! We have diapers, a bassinet for the baby to sleep in, baby clothes laundered and ready. It is all coming together.

What is left is the intricate waiting game of pre-labor. Unfortunately, I’m not handling it as gracefully as I might have liked. I pulled a muscle in my side last week—in my sleep, no less. My feet and calves are so swollen it feels like I’m lugging watermelons around. Every day it seems like my body finds some new and interesting way of throwing me a curve ball. I’d love to say that I view each new thing as part of my practice—and sometimes I do, although usually it’s after the fact—but for the most part I’m falling into the dangerous practice of living in the future, wishing I were somewhere I’m not.

I know that my practice for labor will be surrendering to the moment, accepting whatever happens, truly living “it is what it is.” What I wasn’t expecting was how much that would need to be my practice heading up to labor. As usual, reality is different from my expectations, and I have a choice about how to handle that. Some moments I fall into a funk, upset that I’m unable to get very much done. Other moments, I recognize that I need to start where I am, and that may mean I spend the day with my feet up, or it may mean that I get to run some errands or unpack a box or two, or I may be able to do a little of both. But whatever it is, it is exactly that—no more, no less. Finding peace with that is my daily and indefinite challenge.

And so here I find myself, in the rhythm of the unknown, celebrating my practice. As John Lennon sings, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” So today I choose to focus on that life that I am living, what that life really is for me today, and allow everything else to fall into place in its own time. It’s all we can ever do, really, but there’s nothing quite like having it show up for you rather literally to make you realize what life really is all about. Enjoy the moment. Or not—it’s up to you. But this is the moment where your life is being lived. How does it feel? Namaste.

Photo: “It was summer she walked into…,” originally uploaded by Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic


Aaah . . . May 28, 2009

Filed under: inspiration,practice — jennsheridan @ 1:19 pm
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A friend of mine posted a quote from my dear favorite Hāfez this morning: “There are so many gifts still unopened from your birthday.” I realized it doesn’t matter what he’s saying, it just makes my whole being open up, relax, and let go. I was moved to seek out inspiration from another Sufi this morning, Rumi. After a few minutes of surrendering to the perspectives of these beautiful mystics, I felt the challenges of this week fall off of me.

One of the biggest challenges for me this week has been shaking off some of the recent decisions made by this lovely state that I live in, California. First, there was the news that Prop. 8 (banning gay marriage) was being upheld, followed quickly by the governor’s latest budget recommendation that includes, amongst other gems, cutting so much revenue to our state parks that 80% of them would have to close. After moving through my intial feelings of disappointment and frustration, I was able to find peace in the reminder that times of great change are often accompanied by chaos as the smallness and limiting beliefs created by fear are ultimately dissipated by the expansive, creative, loving energy of our ongoing growth. This snippet of Rumi’s wisdom seemed especially appropriate to me this morning:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

From: The Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks

Here are a couple of other treasures from the realm of Rumi’s wisdom. I hope that they have a similar opening, expansive, releasing feeling for you today, and that your being can relax into the Aaah . . . . Namaste.

Moving Water
~ by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river
moving in you, a joy.

When actions come from another section, the feeling
disappears. Don’t let

others lead you. They may be blind or, worse, vultures.
Reach for the rope

of God. And what is that? Putting aside self-will.
Because of willfulness

people sit in jail, the trapped bird’s wings are tied,
fish sizzle in the skillet.

The anger of police is willfulness. You’ve seen a magistrate
inflict visible punishment. Now

see the invisible. If you could leave your selfishness, you
would see how you’ve

been torturing your soul. We are born and live inside black water in a well.

How could we know what an open field of sunlight is? Don’t
insist on going where

you think you want to go. Ask the way to the spring. Your
living pieces will form

a harmony. There is a moving palace that floats in the air
with balconies and clear

water flowing through, infinity everywhere, yet contained
under a single tent.

From: The Glance

This We Have Now
~ by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

From: The Essential Rumi

Photo: “Sunset gateway,” originally uploaded by Mirko Macari


What is it you would let go of today? October 17, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 1:26 pm
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In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?
~Mary Manin Morrissey

Today, I am letting go of stress and worry and agita. I am remembering that being busy has its own rhythm, its own flow, and that I just need to surrender to it. Life is good, full of good friends, new experiences, and exploration. There is always plenty of time, more than enough to do both what is necessary and what is fun. So today I choose to relax into that energy and see where it takes me.

An email was going around a few weeks back that is a lovely way of looking at surrender (amongst other things), and I wanted to share it with you today. Whatever your idea of the Oneness or a higher power may be, it is a good reminder that we don’t have to do everything. In fact, when we try to, we tend to just get in our own way. When we can truly let go of something, we give it some breathing room, allowing it to get solved on its own. So let go of what concerns you today, surrender it to this One Power, and then just show up and see where spirit leads you. Namaste.

Ten Guidelines from Swami
Satya Sai Baba
Source: Nava Sarathy – April 2007

1. Quit Worrying:
Life has dealt you a blow, and all you do is sit and worry. Have you forgotten that I am here to take all your burdens and carry them for you? Or do you just enjoy fretting over little things that comes your way?

2. Put it on the List:
Something needs to be done or taken care of. Put it on the list. No, not your list. Put it on MY to-do-list. Let ME be the one to take care of the problem. I can’t help you until you turn it over to ME. And although MY to-do-list is long, I am after all . . . God. I can take care of anything you put into MY hands. In fact, if the truth were ever really known, I take care of a lot of things for you that you never even realize.

3. Trust ME:
Once you have given your burdens to ME, quit trying to take them back. Trust in ME. Have the faith that I will take care of all your needs, your problems and your trials. Problems with the kids? Put them on MY list. Problem with finances? Put it on My list. Problems with your emotional roller coaster? For My sake, put it on My list. I want to help you. All you have to do is ask.

4. Leave it Alone:
Don’t wake up in morning and say, “Well, I am feeling much stronger now, I think I can handle it from here.” Why do you think you are feeling stronger now? It is simple. You gave Me your burdens and I am taking care of them. I also renew your strength and cover you in My peace. Don’t you know that if I give you these problems back, you will be right back where you started? Leave them with Me and forget about them. Just let Me do my job.

5. Talk to Me:
I want you to forget a lot of things. Forget what was making you crazy. Forget the worry and the fretting because you know I am in control. But there is one thing I pray you never forget. Please don’t forget to talk to Me – OFTEN! I LOVE YOU! I want to hear your voice. I want you to include Me in on the things going on in your life. I want to hear you talk about your friends and family. Prayer is simply that you having a conversation with Me. I want to be your dearest friend.

6. Have Faith:
I see a lot of things from up here that you can’t see from where you are. Have faith in Me that I know what I am doing. Trust Me; you wouldn’t want the view from My eyes. I will continue to care for you, and meet your needs. You only have to trust Me. Although I have a much bigger task than you, it seems as if you have so much trouble just doing this simple part. How hard can trust be?

7. Share:
You were taught to share when you were only two years old. When did you forget? That rule still applies. Share with those who are less fortunate than you. Share your joys with those who need encouragement. Share your laughter with those who have not heard any in such a long time. Share your tears with those who have forgotten to cry. Share your faith with those who have none.

8. Be Patient:
I managed to fix it so in just one lifetime you could have so many diverse experiences. You grow from a child to an adult, have children, change jobs many times, learn many trades, travel to so many places, meet thousands of people, and experience so much. How can you be so impatient then when it takes Me a little longer than you expect to handle something on My to-do-list? Trust in My timing, for My timing is perfect. Just because I created the entire universe in only six days, everyone thinks I should always rush, rush, rush.

9. Be Kind:
Be kind to others for I love them just as much as I love you. They may not dress like you, or talk like you, or live the same way you do, but I still love you all. Please try to get along, for My sake. I created each of you different in some way. It would be so boring if you were all identical. Please, know I love each of your differences.

10. Love Yourself:
As much as I love you, how can you not love yourself? You were created by Me for one reason only – to be loved, and to love in return. I am a God of love. Love Me. Love your neighbors. But also love yourself. It makes My heart ache when I see you so angry with yourself when things go wrong. You are very precious to Me.

Photo: “Letting Go..,” originally uploaded by Capture Queen

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Growing pains August 12, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 8:38 pm
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A mentor of mine recently reminded me that just because the road looks like it is dipping, does not mean you’ve gotten off course. The path of spiritual and personal growth can look bumpy from time to time, but think of it as driving on a mountain road–it may go up for a little while, it may go down for a little while, but the whole way you are moving in the direction of your destination. This very simple piece of wisdom helped me shift from beating myself up for not always living in the light to accepting that every step takes me forward along my path with plenty to be learned from the experience.

I loved this recent DailyOM posting that had some additional insight on what might look like a challenging time. I know that I, for one, am looking forward to a slightly less bumpy road, but I also know that when it comes I will be all the stronger for what I am going through today. Namaste.

Growing Pains
Difficult Times

It can be very challenging to maintain a positive attitude and a measure of faith when you are in the midst of difficult times. This is partly because we tend to think that if the universe loves us we will experience that love in the form of positive circumstances. However, we are like children, and the universe is our wise mother who knows what our souls need to thrive better than we do. Just as a young child does not benefit from getting everything she wants, we also benefit from times of constriction and difficulty to help us grow and learn. If we keep this in mind, and continue to trust that we are loved even when things are hard, it helps us bear the difficult time with grace.

This period of time in history is full of difficulty for a lot of human beings, and you may feel less alone knowing you are not being singled out. There are extreme energy changes pulsing through the universe at every level and, of course, we are all part of the growing process and the growing pains. It helps if we remember that life is one phase after another and that this difficult time will inevitably give way to something new and different. When we feel overwhelmed we can comfort ourselves with the wise saying: This too shall pass.

At the same time, if you truly feel that nothing is going right for you, it’s never a bad idea to examine your life and see if there are some changes you can make to alleviate some of the difficulty. Gently and compassionately exploring the areas giving you the most trouble may reveal things you are holding onto and need to release: unprocessed emotions, unresolved transitions, or negative ways of looking at yourself or reality. As you take responsibility for the things you can change, you can more easily surrender to the things you can’t, remembering all the while that this phase will, without doubt, give way to another.

Photo: “Sapa – Mountain Road,” originally uploaded by j.fisher

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John Tarrant quote August 3, 2008

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
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What is the mind like if it’s not occupied with plans and schemes, and fears that the plans and schemes will fail? What if your unexamined beliefs were to fall away and you were to live without them, and also to live without the thought that you had given anything up?

~John Tarrant


Inspiration: One Day My Soul Just Opened Up April 25, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 6:05 pm
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Evocative words full of emotion and power create new favorites, even upon first readings. This poem by Gemmia Vanzant was one of those. Introduced to me relatively recently, I could feel my heart opening up on its first reading, taking me to a deep place within me, awakening me to my own sense of freedom.

One Day My Soul Just Opened Up
by Gemmia L. Vanzant

One day my soul just opened up
and things started happenin’
things I can’t quite explain
I mean
I cried and cried like never before
I cried tears of ten thousand mothers
I couldn’t even feel anything because
I cried ’til I was numb.

One day my soul just opened up
I felt this overwhelming pride
what I was proud of
only God knows!
Like the pride of a hundred thousand fathers
basking in the glory of their newborn sons
I was grinnin’ from ear to ear!

One day my soul just opened up
I started laughing
and I laughed for what seemed like forever
wasn’t nothin’ particularly funny goin’ on
but I laughed anyhow
I laughed the joy of a million children playin’
in the mud
I laughed ’til my sides ached
Oh God! It felt so good!

One day, my soul just opened up
There were revelations, annihilations, and resolutions
feelings of doubt and betrayal, vengeance and forgive-
ness, memories of things I’d seen and done before
of places I’d been, although I don’t know when
there were lives I’d lived
people I’d loved
battles I’d fought
victories I’d won
and wars I’d lost.

One day my soul just opened up
and out poured all the things
I’d been hiding
and denying
and living through
that had just happened moments before.

One day, my soul just opened up
and I decided
I was good and ready!
I was good and ready
to surrender
my life to God.

So, with my soul wide open,
I sat down
wrote Her a note
and told her so.

Photo: “Woohoooo for fall!!!!!!!!,” originally uploaded by Eden Keller


Surrender March 26, 2008

Filed under: inspiration,practice — jennsheridan @ 11:11 pm
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“The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure. As stars high above earth, you are above everything distressing. But you must awaken to it. Wake up!”
~Baruch Spinoza

Surrender is a dirty word for many people. I’ve known folks who have been on the spiritual path for longer than I’ve been alive who still have great resistance to the concept of surrender. When you look at the primary definition on dictionary.com, it’s really no wonder: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress: to surrender the fort to the enemy; to surrender the stolen goods to the police. Even the definition that I’m using doesn’t sound much better on the surface: to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life of hardship. There’s great fear that surrendering means we’ll have to give something up, or even just give up in general. But what does “giving up” really mean? To me, anyway, it means to stop trying. And boy oh boy, is there ever a lesson for me in that. There is great power in ceasing to try to do anything. It’s like Yoda says: “Do or do not. There is no try.” The more we try the less we do, not to mention the more we get frustrated.

One day last week I was working on some things having to do with my finances and I could feel myself getting anxious about it–never a good sign. As I was trying to shake off the anxiety, I had an image pop into my head of Liz Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love, when she was lying on her bathroom floor crying and talking to God. This image was quickly followed by one from the movie Saved! where one of the Catholic schoolgirls is kneeling by her bed crying and praying wildly. I thought, well, I’ve never tried it–who knows, maybe it’s exactly what I need to do. So I went into my living room and knelt down, going almost into Child’s Pose with my forehead touching the floor. I just started talking out loud, expressing how I was feeling about money and where I was looking for resolution. Before I knew it, a flood of emotion came out and I started to cry, ultimately lying there with my head on my arms repeating, “I just need some help, I just need some help,” over and over again. Suddenly, I felt this deep sense of calm and stillness come over me–I moved into a seated position and sat there for a few minutes breathing in my newfound peace. Before I could get up and go back to my work my phone rang–it was a friend who wanted to pay me to do some work for her. I burst out laughing and when I hung up I simply said, Thank you.

I’ve invested a lot of energy lately trying to surrender–what happened that day was that I actually surrendered. I gave up in the sense that I stopped trying to do anything. My intention was in place, but I was holding on to it so tightly there was no room for the Universe to provide. By letting go, by surrendering, I opened myself up to solutions I never could have forced into being. In the end, surrendering isn’t about giving up anything–it’s about moving yourself into alignment with Life so you can begin to accept all the good that Life has to offer. This process reminds me of the poem at the beginning of Wayne Dyer’s Your Sacred Self:

Broken Dreams
author unknown

As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dream to God
Because He was my Friend.

But instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,
“How can You be so slow?”
“My child,” He said, “what could I do?
You never let them go.”

What are you holding on to? What are you ready to receive? Can you begin to see how you might surrender it to the Universe, thereby allowing it to come into fruition? Take the leap of faith with me this week–truly surrender whatever it you find yourself holding onto most tightly. Experience the deep peace that surrender brings, and see what shows up to support you. Namaste.

Photo: “Sweet Surrender,” originally uploaded by What’s in a name…

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