Category Archives: Inspiration

The Queen of Autumn: Leaf Piles and Present Moment Magic

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How beautifully leaves grow old(Originally posted at my Huffington Post Blog in 2011!)

As my neighbors grumble about the leaves covering their lawn, my boys wait wide-eyed, with mighty rakes in their hands. The time is here; our delicate Japanese maple has finally shed enough of her red robe for a ginormous leaf pile.

Our maple stands on duty, everyday, a quiet nanny to a neighborhood of fast friends. She stoops down low for even the smallest of sneakers to scale and reaches high enough for the bigger kids to walk on air.

As the seasons move past, dependable and reassuring, she’s alive in our photos: summer kids dangling like earrings from her limbs, green leaf stew at her feet. There are winter snowmen around her waist and a count down to Christmas in her ears.

But her infamous time of year is Now, when ruby-red leaves dance and drop from her skies. The dogwood nearby offers a generous contribution and the old oak by the street throws in her golden leaves. But no one is fooled. We all know who is really Queen of Autumn.

autumn maple n snow

Our autumn maple in an early snowfall, 2011

“We can rake now, right Mom?” my ten-year-old asks as he watches a squirrel tight rope through our bare maple. “Yup we definitely have enough leaves,” I answer, as he breaks for the garage. “C’mon Ky, let’s get the rakes!” My six-year-old scurries behind him, a bagel in hand, no shoes on his feet.

I grab my camera and step out front. Long rake handles appear first, bobbing above our front bushes, taller than both boys combined. As the work begins, our maple occasionally catches their hair in her branches or snags the wooden handles. Nothing inconveniences the boys, though, as they move with purpose and enthusiasm. Spencer tugs at the glorious crimson carpet, sweat beading on his forehead, as our maple exhales oxygen and inhales CO2 in a beautiful exchange.

From across the street, our twin nine-year-old neighbors, Manuela and Thomas, spot the fun and rush to join the leaf brigade. Thomas refuels the effort where Ky has petered out. “We can make a pile as high as the house!” he yells with glee. Spencer’s tired rake is reluctantly passed off to Manuela, who moves with invigorating new purpose. A monstrous pile is built.

autumn 1

Can you find all three faces…

My maple and I smile with motherly pride. Appreciating the present moment, I remember where peace and joy resides. “I jump first!” Spence yells. “Second!” Ky pipes in. “Third!” “Fourth!” Thomas and Manuela add. Our eight-year-old neighbor Danny suddenly runs into the yard yelling, “Fifth!”

I balance my smiling camera as Bill comes to enjoy the spectacle. Like our maple, the kids stand ready for the joy ahead, for snuggling in next year’s shade, for the long upward climb into adulthood.

We watch as Spence backs way up to begin his debut run. He takes off with a bang and then, with an enormous leap and a giggly shout, he dives head first into the autumn womb.

“Laughing is jogging on the inside

With laughter spilling around like sunshine, I feel reconnected with it all. The smell, the crunch, the gratitude for a world breathing in and out. I have the boys to thank. They won’t let their childhood pass us by too quickly. At least not today.

Soon our maple will be hailing the holidays, branches lined with elegant white snow. Although I may get distracted by the busyness, scurrying to get it all done,  I can count on our maple to etch our lives in peace.

In the years ahead, as our sons find new joy and work in this world, Bill and I want to be there with them, celebrating each new season of their lives. All the while we’ll remember the days of autumn leaf piles when friends and family (and an elegant Japanese maple) were there to steady our souls.

Be like a tree, let the dead leaves drop. .....~Rumi

“Everything I let go of has claw marks on it.Anne Lamott

Let it go,

let it be,

for love,

XO

Julie

Surrendering to the Present Moment …for Parents, Caregivers and other Control-Freaks

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Wayne DyerI want to take a moment, before my post, to bid a fond farewell to the beloved Wayne Dyer who passed into the Great Beyond Sunday, Aug 30th, 2015, on the heels of a supermoon. I felt so shocked & saddened by the news… but I also feel a thrill for Wayne on his continued journey into the light. It makes me smile thinking of his reunion with his mom and with the father he never knew. Six years ago, Wayne gave me my first big break by endorsing my memoir and later inviting me on stage with him, in front of 1000 people! It was the first time I’d ever spoken to an audience… (here’s the short video his daughter Skye took of me~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0BjCw_uZdM.) I was a bundle of nerves, but I was also utterly inspired by Wayne’s belief in me. And I did it! He showed me I could. I’ll never forget him and the divine gifts he left behind. I love you, Wayne. God speed!

 

And now for my regularly scheduled program : )

“For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe. Larry Eisenberg

“For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.” 

Oh if only I would.

It’s been an emotional month for my family. As a result, I’ve been wrestling with a personal delusion I’ve long clung to ~ the belief that somehow, through my own great love, effort and awareness, I can control my life, my husband’s life and my boys life so we’re all happy, healthy and safe. Forever.

Herein lies a big problemo.

What can I do (or stop doing) when darkness knocks on their door and I can’t make it go the hell away?

Just two months ago I was lounging in my wonderful friend Kimberly’s pool. Despite the grief surrounding my Dad’s passing, I felt some comfort believing that life wouldn’t dare hurt me again for a very long while. (I was wrong.) Nonetheless, I was soaking in the elation of a five day soul-o retreat while Kim was on vacation. The quiet time is an unimaginable, indescribable, spine-tingling joy. I’m in awe of this remedy back to myself and back to what matters.

The miracle . . . is being alive to it all. Even to the insects. I kid you not.

On my second day away, I decide to cool off in the pool. Immediately I see a beetle madly paddling in the blue. The desperate swimmer kinda draws me in. I grab a leaf from the side of the pool and let the beetle climb aboard. I deliver it to the warm cement and then turn around just in time to spot another bug. Sigh.

I rescue the other bug and transport it back to terra firma. And because in my glorious days of nothingness, I am free to do anything at all, I watch this bug. Closely. And you know what? It’s like opening the weirdest gift. I pinky swear.

I watch the bug lift her hair-thin arms and carefully clean her antennae, face and head. Then she balances on her arms and uses her wispy little legs to wipe every other part of her crunchy little form. From tip to stern, top to bottom, she shakes off her brush with death. She test pumps her caboose and then runs toward the grass. How do those teensy appendages work so perfectly?

To protect what is wild. Terry Tempest Williams

The next bug I bump into is a goner. I bring it to the side of the pool, anyway, so I don’t end up wearing it. It’s a sweet black beetle with two red polka dots on her back. I return to the blue for another bug I’d seen. This one has flatlined, too. But when I go to scrape it off my oak-helicopter, an antenna suddenly pops up from its previously slicked back position. Then an arm twitches and slowly swipes down along the antenna. The other antenna spoings forward.

Slowly, this miniature chlorinated creature begins to rejuvenate right before my eyes. Call me crazy, but it’s mesmerizing.

I start rooting for the bug.

Like the other critter, with great precision and rhythm, it brushes it’s little black hairs, over and over. It’s movements look almost . . . human. In a creepy-crawlie kinda way, of course. Still, it stops me cold.

surrender to love. Let it go

Then I notice that the reverse lady-bug with the red dots, who appeared dead as a doornail, is crawling across the cement. Whoa. I watch it check it’s wings for flight and then it buzzzzzes away.

Looking out across the pool, I’m now actually searching for victims to airlift. And I’m gigglesnorting. It feels a little ridiculous . . . but it’s fun being a bug bus.

Google tells me there are 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) insects on earth. Seriously, that’s nineteen zeros. Why do we see insects as ‘pests’ when there would be no life here without them?

Stepping foot on planet earth means you’re gonna get seriously bugged. From every direction.

Recently, I heard myself whispering, “The world has gone half-crazy. How in heaven’s name do I keep my boys safe? Protect them from the struggles and the mountains of pain that humans face?”

Chaos is only an illusion. It's what you see when you can' t see far enough

Sunset at a recent BBQ at the lake. Whoa.

The only response, the truly sane, powerful and peaceful response, is letting go. Letting it all go.

Oh if only I could.

When life shocks and appalls me, my mind declares war. I armor up. Fears swarm around me in an exhausting and vigilant attack. To protect and defend. “I can fix this, I can solve this. It’s up to me, it’s up to ME!”

The truth is I am only in control of my response to life events, but I can’t duct tape the tides. I sometimes get these two subtleties confused.

I don’t always trust Grace to guide me. I rely on ME because it’s too scary to admit I don’t have control and that I’m just afraid of what lies ahead for me and the people I love. Eek.

 

So I let myself cry. And I pray. And I let go. And then I slowly recognize how far I’ve strayed from the power of the present moment. Those bugs slicking back their bristles. Getting on with life. Why can’t I?

In witnessing the mystery of those tiny beasts, I came alive, too. I saw beauty in something ugly. I felt compassion and awe. As I watched with full attention, I released the reigns that choke. I surrendered the idiocy of control. I remembered the glory and the simplicity of being a little bug bus.

At one point, I’d looked up from that pool and had seen this small pastel fire rainbow (in the photo.) Can my worries, even months later, compete with it?

Angels believe in you.Jan Phillips

See that lil pastel fire rainbow up there?

By allowing the vulnerability of being human, of brokenness, I gain the strength that lies behind it all. This gigantic life is not all up to me. The truth is sweet relief – fear doesn’t protect or pollinate. I gotta give up the urgency. The anguish. Give up the struggle. Give it all up.

Why?

So I can enjoy this walk on earth. So I can be present to it all. When I live with an open heart, I revive and reconnect to something bigger. Brighter. Wiser. Although I may try to grab back the throne & scepter tomorrow, I let ‘em go for now. I’m handing in my resignation (again) as controller of the cosmos.

It isn’t the events that drown us, it’s our fear that we cannot endure them, which leaves us out of breath.

Challenges and heartaches weren’t meant to be pests. They help us live with a brave heart and a greater capacity for love and acceptance. If the ‘lowly’ insects can see with an exceptionally wide-angled view, we can do it, too.

The choice is always there – to let what’s bugging us close our heart down OR to let adversity open our heart wider. Vulnerability brings the hard truth – this life is temporary and uncertain – but vulnerability can also bring the kind of joy that children feel. Delight still waits for us each day, even in the midst of despair. Especially then.

No matter how cold-hearted people can be, no matter how blindsided we’ve been, when we stand open in the present moment, the world is awash with wonders. A quintillion of them.

C’est la bee.

 

with love, 

and a deep bow to the mysteries,

❤ Julie

gosling 2 copy

Lil Goddess all grown up, beautiful (& flying like a pro!)

 

P.S. An update on Lil Goddess & our rescue mission (from my last post.) The whole Canadian goose family is doing well! Here are some photos and updates~

gosling foot 1 copy

Tears and punctures in her webbed foot. But they don’t stop her!

 

 

How Will I spend My Heart Today? On BS or Mindfulness?

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Hiya Radiant Renegade,

How do you feel about really truly deeply being seen? Including your insecurities, shadows & secret darkness? I had an enlightening run-in with some of my old BS just last week.

As I’m basking in the quiet of my favorite park, writing by this very peeeaceful pond (in the photo), a noisy group sauntered into my sanctuary and plopped down in the shade behind me.

Ugh.

I continue writing, trying to ignore the prickly feeling of eyes and action behind me. One dude is particularly loud. Generally, I love listening to other languages – I have this excited feeling that I understand what’s being said, even when I don’t. But today, his foreign tongue is like a jackhammer and he seems to be the only one carrying the conversation.

I ask my angels if they’d help !@#$ quiet him. Oh wait. Trying to change him is a disempowering focus. Instead, I need to shift my own intention and response. It feels better to say, Thank you angels, in advance, for helping me tune out the distraction.

Soon enough I notice a tremendous turtle sunbathing on a rock. Some swallows are swooping and playing in the air. A goldfinch flies past. Colorful dragonflies are whisking all around. Ducks and geese are feeding nearby in their funny bottoms-up way. Earlier, a small snake had swam seamlessly through the sunlit water.

While marveling at this wide-eyed world, I forget my cares and remember what matters.

And I’ve been able to ignore, somewhat, the incessant talker, who is still rattling away. My goodness.

It’s getting too warm sitting in the sun and I want to gather up my books, beach chair and snacks and waddle over into the shade, about twenty feet away. But I hesitate. I fear the roving eyes behind me. Oooph.

My residual BS has bubbled up – the old Belief System that fears my dwarfism & I will be judged, rejected, humiliated. I shake my head. Why do I care what they think? What will they do, throw stones? Tomatoes? Call me ugly? Laugh? WHO CARES!

Apparently, I still do.

I take some deep breaths, relax and prepare myself to stand up and BE SEEN. Go ahead Jule, they can’t hurt you. You are free to be yourself in this world. This is a great opportunity to bust through the BS. Reclaim the joy.

I awkwardly stand and . . . you know what?

The chatterbox shuts right up.

Hee hee.

By facing my fear, I get my wish ~ his mouth is firmly muzzled. (My inner BS was speechless, too.)

In the past, I’ve dreaded that hushed reaction to me. The shocked looks. Today, the quiet is my reward.

I grab my gear and shuffle into the shade, chuckling to myself. I am an anti-gab Goddess. A shift in perspective is everyone’s super soul power, available anywhere, anytime.

I sit back down and put my notebook on my lap. Suddenly a white-tailed dragonfly (I Googled it) lands on my writing. I watch in surprise as her tiny velvety body breathes. It isn’t a quick flutter – her whole body expands slowly and then contracts. Wow!

Then I realize her fabulous domino looking wings are perfectly covering just one sentence. I’d written it in the upper corner of my page this morning~

“How will I spend my heart today?”

Will I give away my joy because of other people’s reaction? Or will I stand up and be who I am, in peace (or flat out enthusiasm.)

Will I focus on an argument with an old friend/partner/sibling/kids? Or will I send them love bombs and release thoughts of right or wrong.

Will I try to control the outcome of some ‘uncomfortable’ circumstances? Or will I breathe deeply, expand my heart, my love and my willingness to grow.

Will I judge what’s ugly in me/them/the world? Or will I search for what’s beautiful around me and within me.

Will I spend my heart on self-doubt? Worry? Criticism? Shrink away from my challenges?

Or will I trust life to unfold in spectacular ways.

The dragonfly’s work has dominoed and is done. She lifts off the page, hovers for a moment and then zips toward the open water, taking some of my black and white BS with her.

How will you spend your heart today?

Let me know in the comments, I loooove hearing from you : )

You'll never rise any higher than the way you see yourself

I see you, 

with lotsa love~

Julie 

 

Moving from Self-Judgment to Mindfulness: Healing a Fearful Past Through a Present Challenge (or Three)

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When it comes to alternative health vs. the medical world, I’m a recovering extremist. Although I’ve softened my black and white thinking over the years, strange aches or illness can send my level-headedness AWOL. The following is an embarrassing example of one such silly, yet sacred, jihad.

After a stupendous day with my son and his friends at the lake, I wake to a mound of mosquito bites. I’m pissed. Arthritis has never allowed me to scratch my ankles, lower calves, feet or back. The situation triggers a frenzy – a strange and fearful loneliness. Life is always out of my reach.

Note: words like “always” and “never” are indicators of old BS (Belief Systems.) As you read, I’ll put my BS in italics or followed by exclamation points. Fear will be in CAPS. “Right and wrong” dogma and perfectionism will be all over the place.

When there is holistic hubris, a humbling may be on the horizon.

DAY 2

CRAP it’s POISON IVY! Deep breath. My spiritual medicine cabinet is at the ready – miracle supplements, organic nutrition and a positive attitude! I’ll triumph in record time! (It will NOT be like that HORRID hot summer as a kid – three agonizing weeks with P.I.) I’m so healthy and aware now!

I. WILL. NOT. ITCH!

I. WILL. NOT. TAKE. MEDICINE. PERIOD!

DAY 3 – 7

I’m SO DOOMED. The raging rash has taken charge! The pus is gross and the itching is KILL. ING. ME. It’s all over my calves – it burns, it bleeds, it sucks! DO. NOT. ITCH. DO. NOT. ITCH!

DAY 8

I lunge for the bristle hairbrush to rake every seething inch. After a burning-teeth-gnashing three minutes, I hang my head in shame. I’ve made it worse! I’m an idiot! How will I last THREE WEEKS?!

I look down at my alarming oozing calves, over and over. I’ve forgotten to keep looking up.

I realize I have swollen cankles. There are NO signs of healing! The poisonous b*tch is as firey as ever! Pain, panic, prison. Unanswered prayers. Devastation. Trapped inside my skin.

DAY 9

Is the rash a little better?? I feel a speck of hope.

Until.

I find the teensiest deer tick attached to my left boob. WHAT?! Doctors. Lyme disease. Medical nightmares. The fury is building. What the hell have I done wrong? Don’t I do what’s right?

(Ah judgment. My greatest BS . . .)

“I won’t go to the white coats! In their books I’m defective. Broken. A genetic mistake!”

Then it hits me. This week is the anniversary of my knee replacement surgeries, after which my calves had itched RELENTLESSLY. One went completely numb for six weeks. Morphine, codeine, bandages and wounds all brought a deep untouchable itch. Pain, panic, prison. Unanswered prayers. Devastation. Trapped inside my skin.

My body remembered.

“Deja Moo. When you realize you’ve seen this Bull Shit before.” ~unknown

Our wounds often revisit us, not to hurt, but to help us heal. The connection somehow settles my grief. My frantic molehill was echoing the old medical mountain. My fear of facing it again keeps mindfulness out of reach.

DAY 10

The P.I. is drying! Oh supreme joy! High five!

Wait.

There’s a small itchy rash where the tick bit me. NO. NO. NO! “D-d-don’t I properly adore all things au natural? Escorting bugs out of my home? Cheering for deer, dandelion or dirt? This is my thanks?

DAY 11

I cry on the way home from the holistic doctor. Four weeks of antibiotics. I bless the bottle of doxycycline as I take my dose. Such a hard pill to swallow.

The side effect I manifest is . . . itching. It’s backlash for forsaking the natural ways!

So far, I’ve kept my melodrama and panic inside. I’ve resorted to denial and “control” to keep from looking like a loon.

But.

A tidal wave of self-judgment is ready to crash.

Enter the hubster.

Sweaty from yard work, he stands at the threshold of our bedroom and proudly announces he’s just clipped the poison ivy vine on the far side of our home.

“YOU WHAT!?!?!?” I scramble & scream, “IN THOSE CLOTHES??!!?

Raging Rambo, formerly known as Julie, goes into full frontal finger pointing. “The POISON IVY OIL can stay ACTIVE on clothes and tools for FIVE YEARS!! It does NOT evaporate!! HAVE YOU TOUCHED ANYTHING IN THE HOUSE?!??”

Hubster had believed he was a hero for saving me. I, already seriously compromised, can only see an infidel! P.I. can steal in on shoes, shirts and shitheads!

That night, itchy bumps erupt on my arm and pointer finger (nice metaphor.) OMFG!!

I go to sleep crying and cursing the hubster for his careless act of love and devotion. I’ve lost all control.

I wake up to smooth arms and finger. The bumps must have been the meds ~ I go and give the hubster a humble hug.

A few hours later, my son has an I-hate-my-life-and-all-of-you melt down. This week, I’ve fought P.I., my period, ticks, medics and the hubster. But I don’t overreact to my son. Huh? I don’t try to sway him from his anger with a list of all the goodies in his life or all the people who love him. I listen. I feel a tenderness. While he fumes, none of his ridiculous claims hurt.

As I’m calling-all-angels, I realize my other son’s hamster has died (she was heading there.)

My angry boy comes to the cage . . . it helps him cry. Me, too. We hug. I listen to all his earthly complaints for an eternity (an hour.) They’re true for him in this moment. I keep calling in the light that I know he is. I understand the deep isolation. The injustice. The loneliness of feeling lost in our own skin.

I feel no need to do the things I’d planned today. Broken by my own panic, I’m now present. With his pain. His wholeness. And my own. I breathe in the fear and the fullness, and I’m there with him as he breaks open, too.

I realize the fight is gone (for now.) Life has emptied out my control freak fears. My self-judgment. There’s compassion for the itch that can’t be scratched. For my dangling human dread. I realize my own nature can move closer to Mother Nature’s after a fall. There’s power in yielding to the flow of every season, not just the fine ones.

In the Great Mystery of life, I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

One thing I continue to learn ~ the medical and the metaphysical don’t need to shake fists at each other from opposite arenas. Yin and yang work more peacefully when they shake hands somewhere in the middle.

Pema Chrodron says, “We are the sky and everything else is the weather.”

It’s tempting to rail against the tides, to feel hopelessly tossed back and forth across the ocean of who we really are.

When we trust there’s a deeper current, and bless the crazy life that keeps us afloat, then slowly, again and again, we can surrender to the rhythm and the light beyond the storm.

 

with lotsa love and ginormous joy,

Julie

P.S. I have to wait a few weeks to have blood work to test for Lyme. I’ll letcha know…

P.P.S. The hubster has poison ivy.

 

Can You Drink in Your Dreams? Are You Creating Fungus or Fabulous?

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What the heck can rice prove when it comes to the unimagined power of our thoughts, feelings and words?

I wanted to see it with my own eye balls. So my boys and I started an experiment in positivity, inspired by Dr. Masaru Emoto. Although our attitudes obviously affect our personal decisions and lives, here’s a wild illustration of how they ‘mold’ the world around us, as well. It blew me out the back door.

We took three small containers and put 1/2 cup of cooked white rice in each. I labeled one, Love Joy Peace. I labeled another, Fear Hate Stress, and the third was the control rice so it had no label.

The three containers sat on the same shelf separated by six inches or so. Each day we quietly sent the “Love rice” good vibes, thoughts and prayers. We sent the “Hate rice” anger, stress and fear (rather awkward to do.) The control rice was ignored.

I was surprised to find that suddenly I had doubts.

What if all the containers mold at the same rate? My boys will just stare at me sideways and think, that’s just Mom and her spiritual stuff. But after about six days (check out the youtube video progression) a small hunk of blue fungus appeared on the Hate rice. wOOt-wOOt! Holy mold. I’ve never been so psyched about decay. A few days later, a bit of blue-green graced the control rice too.

The Love rice was still rawkin’ white. Cool.

Another week past and the Hate rice was even moldier. The control rice had some mold but less than the Hate, and the Love rice was still holding strong with nada. Go love!

The Hate rice was soon host to an ominous tsunami – condensation on all sides and a doomsday grey fur on top. Whoa. It was a primeval forest of fungus and fear. It was amazeballs.

The control rice mushroomed some more pink mold and some blue, but nowhere near the ferocious growth on the Hate rice. It wasn’t until the 4th week that the Love rice surrendered to some pink ick on top and a brownish breakdown on the bottom.

What an incredible experiment!

My 13-year-old said to me, “mom, even though I’m a believer, I wasn’t sure this would work.” Aw, a believer. I told him I’d had my concerns, too. Doubt seems to be built-in to the forgetful human suit.

Yesterday I grabbed three sugar soaked donut holes and, one by one, mindlessly popped them into my mouth. Then I spotted the small sign I’d posted where the experiment used to be, “Remember the Rice.” Oops. So I took a deep breath and blessed my belly and it’s bounty. It made me smile.

Gratitude boosts our immune system, metabolism and well-being. It’s never too late to prevent an inner tsunami by chowing down on thank you, thank you, thank you. What’s the hurry, bless it all!

We need consistent inspiration and reminders of what we already know; the power is within us. When we’re numb, negative or uncaring we’re feeding ourselves rot, but when we’re mindful, hopeful and loving, we’re wielding the power of light.

For most of us, it isn’t whether we believe in the power of positivity or prayer (we do.) It’s whether we’ll remember to stop, take a deep breathe and implement. Slow it way down. Snap out of the race. Go against the ‘grain.’ Bless our grub. Pause and send love bombs. Smack some affirmations on our frig, mirror, wall or forehead.

I like to make co-creative-coasters ~ I take a sticky note & write a word like, “LOVE” or “JOY” or a phrase, “RADIANT HEALTH” or “FINANCIAL ABUNDANCE.” I take fat clear tape and cover the whole note to ‘water proof’ it (sort of.) It sits under my water glass daily. It sinks into my heart. Dr. Emoto has researched how “water listens.” Our words and intentions imprint on our world. So bottoms up. Drink in the dreams. Expect miracles . . .

According to the rice, what we’re being, believing and blessing is spreading the mold or the marvelous. What beliefs and feelings are you feeding your friends and fam? Your neighbors? What silent thoughts are you dining on daily?

Don’t succumb to fungus. You can choose fabulous!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Seeing a forest of grace and greatness within you,

& always LOVE!

Julie

 

Celebrating Everyday Miracles & Mother Nature’s Magic

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“Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.” ~Brian Andreas

The day started a mess. It didn’t help when Mocha arrived, our neighbor’s bouncing black lab. She regularly escapes from her house to call on our yellow lab, Merlin. It’s inspiring lab love ~ leaping, frolicking, slobbering and panting. When she visits, though, I feel the need to stay in the backyard as chaperone; Mocha is a Houdini. After she and Merl are done romping, she’ll wriggle under our fence like an octopus and be off to greener pastures. Her family would be heartbroken if Mocha Latte was lost.

I dial my neighbor to retrieve Miss Mocha. No one answers. This means she’s at work and her boarder has come and gone and left their gate open. Again.

Grrrrr. I don’t have time for this today.

But until I hear back from Mocha’s mom, I’m relegated to the backyard. The dogs are thrilled. As they bound about, lapping up the life and the sunshine, I begin to unleash as well.

I breathe in the spring and suddenly notice the effervescent violets… the glorious green sprouts … tiny chipper birds. The wow is everywhere, hiding in plain sight. The natural world is dynamic ….and healing. It’s a work of art that wants a home in me. I was agitated before, but now peace is riding shotgun. Whoa.

I realize that the past week felt so heavy because I’d forgotten the everyday miracles. Again.

Just as my heart is remembering that all-important key, something catches my eye. I turn to see . . . a ginormous Great blue heron gliding across our suburban green! What incarnation..!? With a massive six foot wing span (I Googled that) she nearly blots out the sun. My jaw drops in shock.

The gentle giant glides effortlessly, swooping low and steady through a hole in the trees. HOLY JUMBO JET she’s so close! Nearly at eye level, I can almost reach out and touch the freedom, the soft gray body, the sleek white of her majestic head. No beating wings, no sound, she just sails, luminous and still. My pulse races behind her as I follow in giddy pursuit, hoping to hold onto her a bit longer.

Mocha and Merlin catch sight, too. Oh dear. But strangely, they only lope along, curious but not barking. Bless their furry spirits.

Time has stood still as the heron wings through the yard, swoops up over the far fence and down into the brook. Although she’s in no hurry, my bare feet are quickly picking their way through pine needles and prickles, as I yipe and squeak in excited disbelief. I spot her in the water! Standing there gangly yet graceful, unperturbed, is my lean four foot dinosaur, in search of fish or frog.

She tiptoes forward on spindly legs, her neck doubling back like a slow motion rocking chair. With all the time in the world, she makes her way through the bubbling brook in a contagious calm. She holds my breath captive. Her mastery steals my heart.

In an instant, she has wiped away my worries. My weak places are mended by her wildness. Her unshakeable presence. It’s spackle for the soul.

If it hadn’t been for Mocha disturbing my ‘important’ plans, I would have missed this powerful pixie dust.

That’s the trick, isn’t it ~ loving our everydayness. The mundane tasks. The painful detours. The awe inspiring universe will bring us back to what we already are. How do I forget the pleasure of a backyard, of clean water, electricity and food in the frig? Such luxuries all around. Such joy waiting within.

I wish I celebrated it more. That’s what hero(n)s and heroines do. Everyday nobility lives in the simple stuff. Like my fingers typing on these keys right now – technology is just amazing! My eyes are watching (and understanding) the words strewn across this screen – fabulous! My son is calling me (interrupting for the third time) from the other room – splendid! Love him!

I don’t want to be numb to the glory just because I am gifted by it everyday. The flashy wins are easier to applaud ~ Academy awards, Olympian feats, the newest gadget. The everyday successes are quieter. Intangible. When I’m able to honor them, I feel full and on fire.

I double back on the goodies of my ‘commonplace’ existence and remember a beautiful bubbling brook. A great blue dive. When I’m awake and aware, I have all the time in the world. The paradox is that by loving the small moments, I find Life’s grandeur. And that makes room for even more magic.

This day holds everyday miracles for you.

Mocha and Merlin told me so.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sending you Mama Nature’s mojo, with much love,

xo Julie

P.S. The heron in the photo was not my beautiful backyard guest. This one posed for me at a local pond : ) They thrill me wherever I find them!

My Writing Process and Creative Kryptonite

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I was invited to join a blog hop (!) by the fab Suzette Standring (www.readsuzette.com, Author, Syndicated Columnist, GateHouse Media & Cable TV Host). Each blogger hopping along the tour answers four questions on “My Writing Process.” At the bottom of my post, I pass the baton onto 3 gals whose writing gives me goosebumps. The quote in the photo is about them, my creativity crushes : ) Their writing reveals their deep and fluid hearts. They are also loyal moms who offer their creative souls with authenticity, courage and love. The world could use a lot more of their kinda goodness.

So here we go~

What am I working on? 

No matter what I’m up to – driving, painting, meditating, living – a blog post is quietly taking notes. A song, a quote, my boys, a dream, an argument – all creative curriculum.

This month, I’m busy finishing and recording my first e-course! “CPR for the Creative Soul – Breathe out the Stress, BS and Creative Kryptonite and Resuscitate Your Super Soul Powers.” It’s a pilot program that’s been on the back burner for over a year. I’ve changed the name a billion times. I’ve gnawed on it, yelled at it, cried over it, stuffed it in a cyber folder and given up on it. My personal creativity crushers had successfully scared the crap out of me with their mobster protection plan.

My inner perfectionist declared that such a ginormous undertaking could never be good right out of the gate, so why try? My inner comparer was adamant that Wayne Dyer, Julia Cameron, Abraham Hicks and a godzillion other wonderful teachers have already (successfully) covered all of this material, so what’s the point? The procrastinator in me swore that I’d better wait until I’m clearer, more experienced and well, more professional (like that’ll ever happen…) My ethical voice protested that I cannot charge money for the spiritual gifts that have healed my soul. The choir of inner critics agreed (in five part harmony) that I’m. Not. Good. Enough.

Fortunately I’m on to them. I grew up on this gruel. My crack-pot crew are just frightened kids who got hurt and vowed to never let me feel that humiliation again. They’re my original armor ~ they will not let the real world take a stab at me. They’ll do it first.

Thanks to the brave and spirited self-help writers, who broke my heart wide open years ago, I’ve realized I use the BS (Belief Systems) as my excuse to stay ‘safe’ in the shadows, unheard and unseen. So I’m ever learning to shift gears and transform the pain into purpose – to use it as a spiritual springboard to self expression and out-loud living. Each chance I take, each small step, makes my heart fuller and fierier. (I waited for “fierier” to get the spellcheck underline. It didn’t. It’s actually a word…)

Despite the din of my Mafioso choir, my creativity (loyal healer, therapist and crooner it has always been,) won’t stop calling. Texting. She whispers in the shower. While I’m laughing with my family. Cheering over a sunset. The door cracks open a bit more. I’m willing again. To be a newbie. To share. To risk.

I click on the folder on my desktop labeled, CPR for the Creative Soul, and holding my breath, I start to read.

Wait. I love this stuff. How did I get distracted, again? Onward ho!

Next step is figuring out the behind-the-curtain techie scoop. The marketing mumbo-jumbo has been known to squash many a creative crusade. But. This time I’m almost THERE. I’m agog. Lit up. I launch in May.

Stay tuned.

(P.S. My free ebook, Release the Blocks So Creativity Rocks! is an intro to my e-course…)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Ooh no, I might have to take the fifth – one whiff of the competition/comparison kryptonite, and I wanna run for the hills. I was a serious ‘A’ student in school. I thought it would make me an A person – squelch the badness right out of me. So I applied the same hard-nosed flogging to my free lance art career. As you know, flogging and art do not play well together. I’m a recovering creative.

Sometimes my energizer-bunny-brain will take a giant detour off my own soul’s path in order to see what other folks are doing. Depending on my insecurities that week, or month, this can offer glorious inspiration…or a detrimental dive down the rabbit hole. It may take weeks to bounce back.

After a hit and run with the Bunny, I must limit blogs and email with self-help or biz advice. I have to cruise in snail mode for a while so I can breathe normally and dunk back into my own peaceful creative well. Ahhh.

Here’s the thing ~ long ago, and far away, my dwarfism set me painfully apart. Into the stratosphere, apart. (Funny, I first misspelled it, “stratosfear” and boy my sitch had been all about fear.) Then, allegorically, my differences thrust me into a lifelong discovery of just how freakin similar we all are. Our spirits spring from the same majestic Source…

So. How does my work differ? All I can say is, we each write, share, profess and express our similar space-age souls in seven billion unique voices.

Did I answer the question?

Why do I write what I do?

I’d started out as a fine artist, but at age 34 I lost the use of my right arm to arthritis (which had hitched a ride with my dwarfism.) My art was the devastating creative casualty. Or so I’d thought. Out of desperation, I started writing with my left hand on the keyboard…and booyah. Turns out I’m a word nerd. The fun and freedom slowly returned.

As Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how badly, is a way to grow your own soul. So do it.”

So I write in order to heal. To understand myself… and you. To be authentic. To be heard. To trust my vulnerability. To learn. To stitch up my woundedness… and maybe yours. To connect to my spirit (aka my creativity.) To share what I find. To express. To remember what I forgot. To love myself… and you. To live whole heartedly. To find my peeps and my place in this world. To accept my humanness. To feel the Oneness. To grow my own soul.

(P.S. Writing was such an EPIC healer that I was able to paint again about a year later. Long cool story ~ it’s in my free ebook and my memoir, Nothing Short of Joy.)

How does your writing process work?

Hmmm. Each morning, I tend to wake slowly, before my boys, so I can lounge in bed, filling up on inspiration from dreams & fresh ideas. I call in the artsy angels to guide my day. My first target (after the bathroom) is my writing chair and to get my cherub butt into it. Then meditation music. Deep breathing. Lots of it. Next, my greatest hurdle: DO. NOT. Open. Email. The temptation is gargantuan. I’m a recovering mailer-demon.

I have a lot of creative juice pumping in the morn. If I can finagle that first precious hour and give it to my writing, I feel like a queen. For just one taste of email, though, for the high of watching those messages multi-fly into my inbox, I might sacrifice the holy kingdom. If I succumb, an hour can wing right past and then my mind is mush… Dreams & ideas? I don’t remember. The boys? They’re awake and clamoring. Addiction won. Creativity lost. Inspiration is on lock down. I’m toast.

Later, it’s rinse and repeat. Sit. Butt. Chair. Deep. Breathe. Resist. Email. iTunes. On. Through calm and connection, I hope to touch the rarified creative air. Then I open my heart onto the keyboard and begin.

Hai-ya!

When I do triumph over the many distractions, it’s like coming Home. I take life and its meaning so uber seriously, so deeply, that I’m intent on living it with a much lighter heart. Sacred silliness. The things I adore, that I’d stake my life on and walk through fire for, are nourished by my rising into joy. With deep breaths. Creative cloud trails. A gigglesnort or two.

So I sit. Breathe. Smile. And, hopefully, the Love rolls right out of me and across the airwaves to you.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wishing you crazy courage and ginormous joy,

~Julie

 

And now… I’m passing the hop onto 3 fantabulous blogger babes who will be posting their 4 answers to “My Writing Process” on their blogs next Mon. April 14th ~

Suzi Banks Baum makes community wherever she goes. Passionate about stirring up jam, authentic writing voices, artist books, and FeMail mail art, she created Out of the Mouths of Babes; An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others for the March 2012 Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. In it’s third year, over 75 women’s voices have been engaged in this project. She published An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice and leads the Powder Keg Sessions writing workshops. Suzi is writing her next book, Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers and developing Rampant Sisterhood, her workshops on marrying authentic voice and online presence for authors and artists. She appeared before Norman Rockwell’s painting “Freedom From Fear’ speaking about the courage of mothers with Joanne Spies for BFWW and at the Whitney Center for the Arts with Rites of Passage. Her career as a theatre artist began at Northern Michigan University, to Actors Theatre of Louisville to Circle Repertory Company in NYC. She has appeared in the WAM Theatre 24 Hour Theatre Project and her writing and art appeared in the WAM 10×10 Project at the Y Bar in 2013. Find out more at www.LaundryLineDivine.com.

Brenda Knowles has been loving, honoring and guiding introverts and sensitive souls for three years on her website http://space2live.netSpace2live’s purpose is to encourage intimacy in relationships and give introverts the confidence to be true to their nature. Space2live is a safe place to evolve. 

(P.S. I love this quote from Brenda – “I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility.”

Lainie Liberti is a recovering branding expert, who’s 18 year career once focused on creating campaigns for green – eco business, non-profits & conscious business. In 2008, California’s economy took a turn and Lainie decided to “be the change” instead of a victim. She and her then 9-year-old son, Miro, began the process of redesigning their lives, with the dream of spending stress-free quality time together. After closing her business, selling and giving away all of their possessions, the pair hit the road for a permanent adventure in mid 2009.

Five years, 15 countries and many personal changes later, Lainie & Miro continue to slow travel around the globe, living an inspired possession-free-lifestyle, volunteering and learning naturally. They are both following their interests on the road, as the planet has been transformed into their classroom. Often you will hear Lainie say, “we are blessed to be accidental unschoolers” and has become and an advocate for “life learning” at any age. In fact, Lainie & Miro have taken this philosophy to heart and are producing a series of family and teen oriented retreats in Peru called Project World School Peru

The duo describe their greatest accomplishment as the ability to participate in the world without fear. They invite you to follow along as a single mom and her teen-age son live the history & culture of foreign lands, encounter amazing people, interact as global citizens, serve as volunteers, and naturally learn along the way at RaisingMiro.com – Raising Miro on the Road of Life.

 

Finding Self Acceptance in the Mirror of Anger, Blame or Disappointment

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“The teacher you need is the person you’re living with.Byron Katie

Has anyone upset you lately? When I get rattled, generally it’s by folks who:

1. Blame others (and won’t change themselves)

2. Judge & criticize (and won’t change themselves)

3. Use anger & superiority to cover fear (and won’t change themselves)

There’s a theme, I know.

Here’s one way to fix their wagon. Close your eyes for a sec and imagine the last chucklehead who left you miffed. Or sad. In a funk. List the first three qualities in them that really get stuck under your craw.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

So, as you’ve probably guessed, the dreaded list you & I just compiled is . . . a mirror of some teensy denied aspect of ourselves. Embarrassing, I know. I especially hate my bogus Holier-Than-Thou shield. OY. I want peace on earth!

Hold the phone; I just said hate. That can’t have a happy ending.

Here’s an example of the mirror at work in our home. One day, my son Spencer nervously informs hubby, “The computer is doing something weird.” Bill’s face tightens as he darts toward the PC to begin CPR. “Who downloaded the blah blah blah? Who was eating pretzels in here? Who dragged this icon out of the dock?” he loudly demands.

I walk in, hoping to ease the tension. “Take a deep breath, hon, you always figure it out.” This strangely adds fuel to the fire. “It’s always ME that has to fix everything!” he yells. “No one else bothers! Now it’s $1000 down the drain!”

I start to quietly fume.

I feel awful for Spence and tell him we should give Dad some space. I slam the door behind us (ahem) as I plot my recourse. I have my ad nauseum list of complaints at the ready – “Bill, you react in anger, but you’re really just afraid. Afraid that the PC’s broken. Afraid it’s your fault because you can’t fix it. But you blame everyone else instead. You’ve been doing the same dang thing for years. Over the car. The boss. Why do you always react this way? Why won’t you change? You’re hurting the boys the same way you were hurt! Why won’t you stop the cycle?”

So how’s this a mirror of moi? Where do I refuse to change? I continue to overreact to his overreaction, as I always have. I insist that HE change because I’m afraid that I can’t change myself. I’ve been doing the same dang thing for years. I hide my feelings under anger. I punish him for my out-of-control fear. I’m afraid I can’t be okay unless HE does ‘better’ (aka he conforms to my wishes.) Talk about controlling. I hurt my boys when I overreact, blame and criticize Bill for my same shortcomings. Why won’t I stop the cycle? 

(BTW Bill fixed the computer. And he apologized to Spence afterward.)

I recognize Bill’s pain because it lives in me, too. (I often ignore this.) When he gets upset, I feel vulnerable and my inner fifth grader takes control. Oh snap.

She’s a defensive finger pointer (“he started it.”) She lists his faults and uses criticism to throw the spotlight off her own glaring issues.

“I am NOT that immaturity, that callousness, th-th-that humanness!”

As if.

Clearly, I’m rather mortified by my flaws and I’d much prefer to chuck them out onto Bill. I’m better off making peace with the immature scuz-bucket BS (belief systems) that are within me.

*Spoiler alert* – this is a lifetime effort. Fond as we are of “quick and easy,” there appear to be no short cuts. Sigh.

The scoundrels we rally against give us accurate feedback about the denied pain and unfinished business in ourselves. The more we plug our hearts to the frazzled fifth grader within, the more she pops up. Either:

1. We’re surrounded by nincompoops who won’t change!

Or

2. We’re denying our inner toddler or teen, who just needs radical acceptance.

Personal power is . . . behind door number 2.

When someone’s BS makes me want to hurl, it’s my own rubbish in hiding. If I can find the common ground between us, I can find compassion for us, too. It’s my response-ability to be honest with myself and FEEL. If there are waterworks that have been stifled, I have to let ‘em rip.

When my old crap comes up, again and again, and I feel pathetic because I can’t get it right, I step away from the self-battering ram. Punishment is a clear sign that the freaked-out fifth grader is at the helm. Ignoring her just reinforces her motto, “it’s me against the world.” Aw.

The inner critic, perfectionist or judge is just a little kid who’s been hurt. Humiliated. Abandoned. They’re in sore need of love. Warm milk. Chips and dip. Invite them in. Listen to the old BS that has them scared silly. Bear witness to their pain.

To further sooth ourselves after a hit and run with a painful mirror, think about the people who inspire us. Make a long list of their stunning qualities. These are us, too. Phew and YAY! The mirror swings both ways. Every time we celebrate someone else’s awesomeness, we’re witnessing our own.

Each time we can welcome in the pain we’ve cast out, we are a little freer. When we love it all, the way our soul Loves, we’re aligned with our divinity. Our joy. It’s more available to us all thanks to that sassafrassarassa mirror. Touche universe.

So shine a light on those dark places. Accept them with understanding. A group hug. It’s been a harrowing road. Honor your whole self truthfully. Lovingly. In whatever mirror that toddles by.

Sending comfort, compassion and lotsa love your way~
~❤~ Julie

Express Yourself! How Creativity Can Get Your Super Soul Unstuck

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“Unused creativity is not benign, it metastasizes. It turns into grief, judgement, sorrow, and shame. We are divine beings and we are by nature creative.” -Brene Brown

Even though I’ve often denied it, hid it and spit on it, creativity has kinda saved my soul. On two occasions, in particular. Serendipitously, I started my freelance art biz at age twenty-three. It was fraught with self-doubt, crisis and renewal – all the awesome ear marks of a solid creative breakthrough. Ten years later, I had to give up the biz due to degenerative arthritis in my right shoulder (a condition that came with my SED dwarfism.) The sorry sitch shook me to my quivering core. 

After a year of depression, decline and a seriously stinkin’ pity-party, Dad suggested I learn computer graphics using my left hand. Hmm. Before I could even look at the graphics software, I got hooked on something far superior. Yup, email unleashed my languishing creative soul. 

I never knew I could express myself as a writer. But frankly, our creative voice will take any ol’ outlet provided. My memoir, Nothing Short of Joy, came barreling to the surface. It was the most cathartic therapy EVER.  

The creative process dragged me out of my dwarfed little self. When the shift hit the fan, it brought relief, joy . . . and a lot of kicking and screaming.

Turns out, it can be quite an epic battle to recover our true self. It isn’t always pretty. But the alternative is WAY less appealing.

From an early age we’re taught to conform and stuff our individuality away. Gaining acceptance from the outer world becomes our mission impossible. But the never-ending hamster wheel can’t bring the treasures inside of us OUT. And the goodies have gotta come out! 

Of course, our societal training will scream for us to STOP. Resistance will storm in like gangstahs. 

But hang in there. 

You can learn to talk that chorus of inner critics off the cliff. They’re just trying to protect you. They’re terrified you’ll get hurt again. Just remember, though, the deepest darkest pain comes from allowing those secret fears (the beliefs, people or circumstances that say you’ll never be enough) to smoother your light. 

Stephen King says, “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” 

Heh. The quote applies, not just to writers, but to everyone wanting to live more authentically. I’ve been way too concerned with what others thought of me or might think of me. It’s a gargantuan creativity crusher and suffocates our soul’s call. It leaves us feeling hollow. Like a fraud. A replica. Stuck living someone else’s vision of life.  

I once thought I had to *arrive* somewhere (to be an “expert”) before I could fully express myself and commit to the creative, spiritual path. I’ve since realized that sharing the journey AS IT UNFOLDS is the greatest work. We support & inspire each other as we heal ourselves.

Our creative core, our soul, is an ongoing celebration of every curvy road we continue to wrangle. The things we’ve lost. And the soul-self we’ve won. They make up the whole picture – a beauty that emerges from brokenness. 

My free eBook, “Release the Blocks So Creativity Rocks! A Spiritual Pep Rally for Breaking Up with Your BS (Belief System,) Ditching Polly-Perfectionist & Energizing Ginormous Joy,” is available for download here at my web site.  It’s got 60 packed pages of inspiration, calligraphy, watercolors and oodles of reminders of the Love we were born to forget. I hope it’ll ignite your creative courage. Set-backs and sorrow can be transformed into spiritual springboards to greater self-expression.

Our heartaches & handicaps are creative curriculum. In sharing them we get to 1.) dump personal pain & brutal baggage 2.) realize it’s safe to be wholeheartedly ourselves and 3.) own our unique story and discover it’s actually a universal story. We’re no longer alone. Holy headtrip.

Your life’s work, your genius, is to reveal that singular, amazingly glorious YOU. Then go inspire others to set their own soul free. 

Expressing your truth is the highest & most important art form because you’re the only one who has dibs on it. In the history of the universe, there will only be one spectacular, complex, phenomenal you.

Giving our whole self to our life and our dreams is scary. I regularly try to dodge the job. There’a a lot of gunk to sort through as we get back to being who we really are. 

Being a true-blue you is the most personal & profound offering, prayer and gift you have to give. Don’t cheat yourself and the world by holding back your glory. Maybe you wish you’d started years ago. Today is as good a time as any. (Well that’s what I keep telling myself, and it helps…) 

The masterpiece of your life is to rally the real YOU, remember what’s right with what’s “wrong” and express your exuberant soul. It doesn’t matter the medium – a kickin’ canvas, bodacious blog, dirty dance floor or ingenious engineering – just that you unblock your beaming.

Give your imagination, dreams & creative soul some more airtime. The crusade will be worth it. While you’re taking steps toward positive changes in your life, I’m with ya. I’ll be doing my best to follow my heart, (while fingernail-biting) and face my greatest fears, too. You deserve the real-deal me on deck and we deserve the full-out you. C’mon.

Give us all you got. 

How to Usher in Your Dreams: The Universe is Listening

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Driving down the Garden State Parkway, I’m on my way to my first solo vacay in New Jersey (no snickering.) I’ve got five days at my friend’s glorious house while she’s in Italy. Since my oldest son’s birth twelve years ago, I’ve not been all alone for more than a day. I’m way over due.

That’s when I spot it. A rainbow. Wait . . . blue sky, no rain. WHAT?! Obviously the other drivers haven’t noticed the humdinger because they are NOT swerving and squealing like a nut-ball. I scramble for my camera like an electrified orangutan.

I pull over and whip out my camera so fast I nearly throw it across the dash. As I start shooting, the colors are faint but grow brighter before my wide-eyes. They trail along the clouds in glory. Mama Mia.

My car and I are drunk in delight, windswept & jostled by the other high-speeders zooming past me and the miracle. I’m still giggling and chatting out loud thanking the angels for the prism show. My breath is caught inside the glee. I’m not alone. Roy G. Biv has got every color on deck. For me.

After twenty minutes, I continue on my drive, dazzled. I spend five delirious days writing. Painting. Breathing in the green of the yard. The stillness of flowers. The pool’s turquoise purr. Outside the rush of my daily life, I really like my own company. Maybe, after all these years, I actually love me. Whoa. The rainbow knew.

When I return home from my retreat, I feel alive. Free. I tell my family about the “fire rainbow” (I’d googled it.) My son says he wishes he saw it, too. The Universe is listening.

At his birthday party the following week, guess who arrives. Yup. I’d never seen a fire rainbow until a week earlier. Hovering above us, is another. NO. WAY. I start yelling to my son and pointing up like a crazed Chicken Little. Rainbows are falling around us.

a fire6 copy

A month later, we’re at the Jersey shore. Yet another appears. Google informs me this one is a “sun dog.” Whatever. It’s still color streaking across my freakin blue skies. My dad tells me that when I was too young to write, I signed a guest book at a relative’s house . . . with a rainbow. They’ve been on my radar awhile.

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As a kid, I’d thought that rainbows would be even more awesome if there was a blue sky behind them instead of grey clouds. I’m not making this up. Then I saw it on Facebook – a photo of a colorful ribbon shimmering across a wicked azure sky.

I figured I would have to be in Hawaii or Bali to see such grandeur.

Mais no.

They now follow me in Joisey. Several months ago, I step outside Barnes and Noble (a gospel belt) and glaring right at me is a huge glowing sun dog. I’m agog again. My eyes dart around the parking lot for someone to celebrate the sky with me. Three folks slip into their cars, engines roar away. I call out to one last woman, but she can’t hear the happiness. Her head is bowed as she leaves, untouched by the hot diggity-dog before us.

Are you expecting your job to be stressful? No free time? Your partner to disappoint you? Your health to decline? Murphy’s Law to win? Well when you look at it THAT way, your wishes are the universe’s command.

There’s an area of our brain called the reticular activating system (RAS) whose job is to filter through the endless data that bombards us daily. The RAS only allows into our conscious mind what we are focused on, interested in, or what we believe. It edits out anything that doesn’t confirm our belief system (BS,) which we may have been carrying around since childhood. Our mind is a neutral search engine, looking to prove us right about our expectations.

Ever bought a car you’d rarely seen, in a color you were sure was unique. Then you get out on the road and that exact car is everywhere. Turns out, that car had always been around you, but your RAS never picked up on it until it was a priority.

This isn’t woo-woo. This is science.

Einstein said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.” If we stay focused on what’s wrong, the RAS is blind to anything right. What do you expect from the world and what do you offer? Give your dreams more airtime today. Your thoughts and feelings are so powerful that your life is created by their rally cry. Redemption is within your reach.

Just last month, I was rather stuck in the ‘not enoughness.’ Not enough wishes coming true. Not enough Money. Talent. Time. Courage. My life is FULL of great things but I was busy focusing on what I feared was missing. So I rewrote my affirmations. I recommitted to reading them every day. Focus. Breathe. Believe. Receive. 

Yesterday, driving to the shore, my family and I see a massive sun halo (a rainbow circle clear around the sun.) There’s a small pastel fire rainbow at it’s feet. Sweet Jesus. What promise lies about us. What mystery. I want to reaffirm my life with greater faith than ever. Do I face life’s challenges like they are obstacles or opportunities? Sometimes I forget it’s my choice. The skies remember. I got it all on camera.

There are fire rainbows afoot. Keep looking up!