Category Archives: Mother Nature Heals

When Things Fall Apart: Learning to Lighten Up

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It was 9pm and my oldest son and I were raring for our rockin’ road-trip to MA, in the morning. Then I got the call from one of my dearest friends, Lisa, whose house we’d be staying at for 4 days. She says there’s been a miscommunication – she isn’t expecting us until the following weekend.

WHAT THE!?!?!

I’m STUNNED. My brain is DUMBSTRUCK. I’m trying to fathom this news. Recalibrate. I GOT IT WRONG!? HOW DID I MESS UP SO BADLY?!

My hubby has taken off work. My older son has been so excited to see his friend! We’re ALL PACKED!!! ACK! This is cataclysmic to me! Perfectionist me. Inflexible me. Unforgiving me. I manage my calendar like a hawk. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???

I feel heartbroken and I’m starting to cry. But… Lisa doesn’t sound as demolished as I feel. That’s when my protective inner Mob Boss picks up her armor, knowing just what to do with my mortifying emotions. Shut. Them. Down. Lock & Load.

Rut row.

I’d better hang up with Lisa before the heavy-duty blamer BS (Belief System) starts misfiring. It speaks fluent Aim & Blame in dramatic CAPITALS and exclamation points!!!! Have you noticed?!?!

Crap. I thought I was past this. I’m all about taking responsibility for myself, my reactions, feelings and beliefs. But here I am acting like a full-fledged card-carrying defensive victim. Ugh. *Hangs head in shame.*

Growing up, I became slightly militant about the ways I should/could/would be RIGHT. About details, plans, times, people. I feared that my body and I were just wrong all over the place. Making mistakes made me even more WRONG and unlovable. My Mobster BS insisted I’d better be perfect, if I wanted to be kept safe from a heartbreaking world.

BS #2 (they run in packs) was also hibernating in the dark recesses of my mind. “I should be able to perfectly heal and release these beliefs, once and for all.” Hahaha. Apparently, there is no such thing as “done” while living in a sticky earth-bound-suit.

#3 on the BS hit parade is C-O-N-T-R-O-L. Or my illusions of having it. Nuf said.

Blame, criticism, intolerance etc are powerhouse viruses. They’re going around. When fear runs amuck inside us, but we don’t want to feel or own those feelings, it’s very tempting to deny, dodge and judge. Hot potato. Toss the blame at someone else!

But since we perceive what is OUTSIDE us in response to what we experience INSIDE us, we’re still glued to the gloom. No matter how we serve up that French-fried blame, we’ll be wrecked by the wrongness we feel around us, because it is also simmering within us.

I think we revisit these painful old wounds, circumstances and BS because there is always another silver lining to light upon. 

There is always more humanness to forgive.

If we can notice the fears, and just embrace the little darlings, question the BS, and love our silly selves anyway (imagine!) we won’t be as reactive when other people (children, spouses, presidents) do what they do or be who they are. We’ll feel more inspired to settle the war inside ourselves and radiate the peaceful warrior self, instead of the bossy blamer babe.

The following morning, still very mad at myself, my hubster Bill calls out, “Hon! Come see this butterfly on the stairs – INside!”

Aw!  The little girl in me is thrilled when I spot it. I carefully lower my finger down in front of the butterfly and she climbs on.

Be.

Still.

My.

Heart.

I bring her to my bedroom, where the dog and cat are less likely to interfere. It’s freezing outside, so releasing her isn’t an option. As I get close to the window, she takes flight and lands on the sunny lace curtain. The light pours through her gauzy body and I’m infused with joy.

But. What about food?

The flowers from Bill! Come to think of it, maybe that is how she hitched a ride inside? A Valentine Visitor?

I put the vase of cut flowers, every flowering plant we have, sliced oranges, bananas and a tray of sugar water, in the window. “We are now The Butterfly Cafe,” Bill says with a smile.

The internet reports she’s a female “Cloudless Sulfur” butterfly – an inch high, fragile as pale yellow tissue paper, with tiny black dots on her wings. In Native American medicine, butterflies are a symbol of personal transformation. “The ability to go through changes with grace and lightness.”

Their transformation from caterpillar, to liquid DNA goo, to winged confetti, is miraculous! Vulnerable and strong, weightless and free. They seem directionless, and yet they have quite the internal GPS.

“Perhaps the butterfly is proof that you can go through a great deal of darkness and still become something beautiful.”

My attention to the butterfly, brings me into the present moment, and breathes me back into grace. (Bug bus to the rescue!) How can my heaviness stand up against her lightness of being?

The following day, I take some honey water on my finger and slowly put it in front of her. She hops aboard. And then I watch in awe – her teensy curled tongue (proboscis) which is a hair-thin straw, unfurls and begins probing the sweetness. And then . . . DRINKING. WHOA. I’m feeding a butterfly!

See the sugar water on my finger?

HEART.

BLOWN.

OPEN.

Did you know they can taste through the bottoms of their wee feet?

After a spellbinding minute, my feathery friend re-curls her tongue and stands like a quiet statue. Both of us are satiated.

The week flies by, and it’s time for my son and I to take the trip we’d planned! Bill is on butterfly duty while I’m away.

Soon after we arrive in MA, my son and his friend have a major miscommunication about a pick-up time and place. We land at his friend’s mom’s house (an hour from Lisa’s) while his friend is at the dad’s house (another hour drive.) WHAT?!?! My inner GPS is still MIA.

Rinse and repeat.

Guess who grabbed the wheel first? I wanted to blame his friend, then the dad, then my son, who wasn’t sure if his friend HAD given him the right address. I said I wanted to smack him.

Ouch.

After some wild texting with the dad, we were back on the road and I was breathing easy again. Quick turnaround! Phew.

But my son.

I noticed he was quiet and asked if he was ok. He said that NOW he understood why I cried over the previous mix-up with Lisa. He added, “I think of myself as a smart person, but this mistake makes me wonder.”

Oh boy can I relate!

Even our positive qualities can become limiting if we’re overly attached to that identity and too hard on ourselves when we ‘fall short’. I apologized to my son about my “smack you” attitude. Several times. We had a great talk, connecting over our shared BS. It felt freeing to be imperfect together. We don’t have to go it alone.

Humanness unites hearts. 

There is always more to love.

If Lisa and I hadn’t miscommunicated the week before, I might have missed the heart to heart with my son. I might have missed the laughter and openness with her.

I might have missed the butterfly.

I might have missed the walk in the woods when faeries seemed to send up <– rainbow flares from my camera.

I might have missed the opportunity to see more of who I am. Pimples and all. And to blossom anyway.

I might have missed the chance to draw closer to the divine. To flutter more like the butterfly, in and out of these changes and challenges. Isn’t this the everyday nectar of life on earth? Learning to grow with the flow – with butterflies, blamers, and mob bosses. They prepare us for the bigger dance – when life doesn’t do what we want it to do. When things fall apart. If we’re ready to release the heavy baggage – to step out of our comfortable cocoon, to let go and to trust our untested wings – then the soul offers abundant opportunities to lighten up and fly.

A female “orange Julia” landed on my forehead! At the Butterfly Conservatory, ONT Canada 2015

with love, lightness & more fun,

 Keep Calm and Shine on,

Julie

 

“When was the last time you sat and talked with a butterfly?” Pat Rodegast

My oldest with two butterflies (one is a “blue morpho”) at the Butterfly Conservatory 2016

 

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My youngest with a “banded peacock” at the Butterfly Conservatory 2011

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Weeping Trees: The Healing Power of Nature

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The amazing Green Diva Meg at GreenDivas.com, has created a quick sketch video (one minute!) of me making one of my watercolor/calligraphy cards, so exciting for me! It gave me a whole new and fun perspective on my work :) I hope you’ll watch it!

Also check out a be-you-tiful online course for Mothers and Daughters at the bottom of this post. There’s a generous discount code for all Nothing Short of Joy subscribers :)

Now for our regularly scheduled program… ;) my blog post: 

%22The Tree Couple.%22One of our trees, a Weeping Grandma Cherry, is losing limbs, losing life. I’m embarrassed by the flood of emotion… and I find myself hiding the tears. As I catch my breath, though, there is so much more to the story. There always is.

My hubby, Bill, has been warning me about her demise for years now, but I refused to believe him. He’d first declared it without much compassion, as if her death was a bother. It would cost money. It might fall on the garage. It might hit one of the kids.

Grandma Cherry Tree

See her sweet face?

Year after year, I’ve sat and recharged in her quiet shade, gathering my heart, breathing out the overwhelm, breathing in the peace. I’ve smiled into her gnarly face wondering how to practice her stillness. Under her calming pink parasol, I’ve written out my hopes and dreams. I’ve wept out my fears, anger, and despair.

Today, I wept for her. For the mysteries. For the violence. For the journey. For my Dad.

So many sad goodbyes in life – to those who move where I cannot go. These deep rules of heaven and earth, hidden in the rough bark of life. They leave their love, clues, and gifts in our own backyard.

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

One morning last year, as I was letting our dog, Merlin, outside, I was crushed by the sight – our restless neighbor had chopped down the colossal lilac between our yards. I reeled back in disbelief. In sobs. Every spring I’d reveled in this lilac’s scented curls. I’d gleefully waited like a kid, for her bountiful blossoms. I’d placed gushing vases in the kitchen and the bedroom just so I could bury my grin into her glorious purple perfume. The blissful smell of God-ness.

I couldn’t look at my neighbor for days.

amber sapAnd now our treasured Cherry is getting ready to fly away. Poison Ivy is creeping up her trunk, as if she has already been reclaimed by a greater night. Her amber blood oozes out from craggily warrior skin. As I run my hand across her Braille bark, some part of my soul understands the big Book of hers. Her silence craves a home in me.

For seventeen years we’ve been held safe in this home, this yard. My boys used to touch the cherry’s soft sap, in wide-eyed amazement. And after it hardened in the sun, they’d run their fingers over it’s glossy smile. They’d tug on her leggy branches to make it snow petals on their heads.

“Vulnerability is a portal to a deeper power.” Chameli ArdaghOne Spring, back when my sixteen-year-old was four, the wind was kicking up a perfect petal blizzard. My boy took one look and scampered toward the back door. As he burst outside, the sun simultaneously came out from behind the clouds. I called to him, “the sun came out just as you did!” He yelled back, “yeah, that’s because it didn’t see me before!” Then he ran through Grandma’s pink waterfall, with arms and heart open wide.

He believed, quite naturally, that the Sun cared. For him. That the Sun saw. Who he was. That God placed the sun and the stars and old cherry trees, for us. And these things, pulsing with life, somehow love us, because Life loves us. My boy didn’t question the synchronicity that day. Why do I question my grief when I’m feeling adrift? When the world isn’t what I want it to be?

I realize I’m trying to hold on to what was never mine to keep.

%22Be like a tree, let the dead leaves drop. .....~Rumi

When I hold on tight, it hurts more. That includes feelings. When I ignore ‘em, they’ll spew forth at the most inappropriate people and places. They’ll create dis-ease. They’ll separate me from me, and me from you.

Rejected emotions, like abandoned
inner kids, need to be accepted,
heard and honored. No matter how
old or annoying. Tears calm the
inner tantrum and clear the mind.
They set the pain free so we can let go. So we can trust the circle of life, again.

Until the next season.

“You have to feel it to heal it.”Our culture teaches us, and especially burdens our menfolk, with the notion that vulnerability makes us weak. I realize that this is hogwash… but… I still find myself ashamed of my deepest feelings, even though I feel stronger after I’ve acknowledged them. Even though they make me the most real. They deepen my compassion. Our common humanity. They open us up and pull us together, where we belong. As one.

 Cherry Tree Spence

My oldest sitting in our Cherry tree

I’m such a sapling.

Fortunately, I’ve had a loving Mom who knew the truth about feelings. But even with her gentle encouragement over the years to “have a good cry,” I still resist. And then a few days ago, Grandma Cherry dropped a limb right near my youngest son and his friend. And the dam broke.

“It’s time,” Grandma seemed to say, “to let go. Of the sadness you’ve been stuffing. Let it be.”

%22Everything happens for you, not to you.Byron Katie

 

I walk toward our three towering Mama Maples, who solemnly bear witness with me, bowing to Grandma. We watch her from afar, as if we might catch a glimpse of some holy spirit leaving us. As if the quiet would give up her secrets.

I remember the mourning dove pair that perches together on her high curves, and the crow clan that loves to gab and laugh up there. I return to these natural joys, often, when the world seems off it’s nut.

I wipe away the last of my tears. I hope my neighbors aren’t watching :)

Then I picture, said neighbors, joining me, without judgment or shame, to circle around Grandma, around the confounding mysteries, around the people and the things we love so fiercely. Around the life that can no longer be. Around the Greater Love that will always be.

I imagine the earth’s light coming up through our feet. Lifting us. The world. Higher – above the pain and the losses, to the joy beyond them all.

I thank the lilacs that once loved us, trees that breathe us alive, kids that teach us, a world that needs us, and Dad’s and weeping Cherry’s that leave us… better than we were before.

 I have watched the trees when they pray

click on the pic to read the poem :)

WHEN I AM AMONG TREES

by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches. And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”

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

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Wishing you
green, green meadows,
cooling shade,
summer fun,
and wide open sky…
~Julie
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Signs from Dad: Finding Blessings in the Broken Places

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%22To these memories I will hold. I bid you all a very fond farewell. Billy BoydI’ve been wanting to write to you about my Dad ever since he slipped into the great beyond last year. Sitting here at the keyboard, biting my lip, I’m intimidated and perplexed as to how to tackle something so big. A whole lifetime. A sudden loss.

I’m worried my words won’t do him justice. My feelings are too fumbled. I keep rereading my straggly sentences – and deleting. Grief is such an uncharted journey. What I thought I understood about saying goodbye, pales in comparison to the reality. The questions. The unknown.

So I hang on to the signs.

The morning after Dad died, feeling shocked and heartbroken, I asked him to please send a sign that he was watching over Mom – that his spirit was alive and well. That we’d all be ok.

As I sent the prayer, I pushed the backdoor open to let our dog out, and there was sudden thunderous honking from a long V of Canadian geese! They were flying very low, the lead goose cresting right over our home – I flinched in surprise, but my heart hit the sky! I cried and I laughed – it felt jubilant! Triumphant! Holy! Dad’s answer was swift, certain and celebratory – a lot like he was. Is. A free bird!

%22We go to the grave saying, ‘A man is dead,’ but angels throng about him saying, ‘A man is born’.Henry Ward Beecher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian geese are residents at my favorite pond, and after years of taking personal days there, to sit, write and just be, they feel like friends.

Julie & geese Hedden copy

That’s me and my winged friends at the pond :)

Last year, we even untangled a little gosling caught in fishing line. So on that bleak morning, a raucous and victorious V was the perfect messenger :)

In fact, Dad kind of reminds me of those geese. They can be bold and fierce – they’re not afraid to stand up for themselves or their goslings. They’re protective and proud parents (who are known to be black and white.) They hail from Canada where my mom’s family, and now all our families, have a very special summer cottage.

Since the first day without Dad, and that striking sign, I continue to ask for God’s reassurance that Dad hasn’t really left our lives. And Dad never disappoints. When I’ve asked, he has landed a flaming red dragonfly on my finger, sent sand dollars in ocean waves, perched a hawk right outside my window, and drawn a rainbow hawk in the clouds. (When I was a girl, his name in our Indian Princess tribe was “Thunder Hawk.”)

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. ~Tagore

%22fire rainbow hawk

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, I had four blissful days to myself while cat-sitting at a friend’s. The morning I was leaving, I happened to read a post from Karen Noe’s newsletter ~ she recommended asking our loved ones for *without a doubt* signs that they are still with us.

So as I drove over to kitty-sit, I asked Dad for just that. Later in the day, I walked out into my friend’s beautiful backyard and noticed the woodpile. I thought Dad might send a chipmunk, which I adore. Although I don’t see them that often, I then dismissed them as too common to be *indisputable.*

But as I continued to walk, a chipmunk did pop up by the house… and then ran straight at me! I froze in place half wondering if a shy chippy would zip right over for a cuddle. It came within five feet. Wow. As it ducked under the shed, I laughed to myself… but not so sure that this was my sign.

Within a minute, something caught my eye in a nearby birch tree. I don’t know why I noticed it, really – the soft blush color was well hidden amidst the white and gray. As I walked closer, though, I saw her – the sweetest baby robin seamlessly camouflaged in the birch! See her? So precious, she melted my heart. The fuzzy white tuffs of new feathers were softly blowing in the breeze. Awwwwww! (You can see a quick video of her here, close-up! Sorry the video is sideways, I was too excited to realize!)

baby robin camouflaged

beautifully camouflaged baby robin :)

This is Dad’s work! He knows I’m a sucker for nature’s babies! I marveled and cooed and appreciated and photographed that adorable little robin.

As I turned to walk away, thrilled in my treasured discovery, a shadow from above caused me to look up, and there it was: a majestic great blue heron sailing across the sky! Another one of my heroines from my favorite pond. I could just imagine Dad cheering and laughing along with me!

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. Shakespeare

An old photo of my boys watching a V of geese!

Dad knows what I love, and from his heavenly place of camouflage, he speaks fluent heron, chipmunk & baby bird. He hit a loving triple play that afternoon, speaking *indisputably* to my soul.

Keep ‘em coming, Dad. I love you so much.

%22For all that has been - thanks! To all that shall be - yes! Dag Hammarskjold

wishing you victorious signs, comfort, and lotsa love, 

Julie signature copy

P.S. I wanted to invite you to a free online summit called,

The Intuitive Child, Nurturing The Inner Wisdom Within

❤  The Intuitive Child is hosted by my wonderful colleague, Abby Gooch, the founder of Life Force Connection. She’s a talented intuitive coach who helps her clients listen to, trust and act on the guidance their intuition provides.

I’ll be one of the 21+ speakers, so I hope you can join us! I’m looking forward to listening to all the interviews myself :)  Please register here. ❤ 

%22how fortunate are you and I who’s home is timelessness we who have wandered down.e.e.cummings

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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

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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!

 

 

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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 

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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!

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