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  • Committed to My Writing

    journals

    It has been a wild few weeks. I went through a period of intense desire to write. I showed up to the page every day I was off work and even on days I got sent home early. But then my cycle started at the same time as a Scorpio full moon and ever since then I’ve been in some other world.

    Showing up to the page has been difficult. I’ve been in some deep emotional state almost all the time or purely busy. On Wednesday, I actually started to feel great! But then my body started to give out. And now, I am physically unwell. It’s been one thing after another for the last two weeks. I know I’m not alone in being brought through the wringer at this time.

    It’s taking great effort to even get these words on the page. I had envisioned editing a piece I’d roughly gotten down on a word doc the other day and publishing that today. But I am just not in the space to do that.

    Instead, I show up to the page as I am with these simple words and update on my state of being. I remain committed to my agreement to publish something – anything – every other week. In my commitment, it could be as little as one sentence or as great as a novel. Today, this is what I have.

    I am committed to my writing. Here I am.

    At a later date, I’ll go into detail about the specific commitment. It’s a “change agreement” that I’ve made. It’s a process I use when I want to make a change that will stick. I’ll tell you how it goes and all about the process when I finish this current agreement at the end of the month. So look out for that in a few weeks.

    Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

  • Health
  • My No TV Experiment as Inspired by The Great Jane Goodall

    three boys in front of a screen

    Spring is my favorite time of year. In Texas, starting in April, the temperatures begin to reach that perfect level where you’re not too hot and you’re not too cold. The live oak trees drop all of last year’s leaves and at the same time they shed a green pollen that coats all the cars, sidewalks, and patios. New leaves burst forth, and the tree explodes in green. 

    There’s a beautiful creek that winds itself behind my apartment complex, underneath a nearby road, and through several corporate office buildings. The trees and plants along the creek come alive with new growth. The baby leaves are so frail and thin, almost see-through in the light of the morning sun.

    As the afternoons grow longer, thanks to more sunlight, I can’t help but want to take a meandering walk with Rupert, my corgi, out of my apartment complex and along the creek near the corporate buildings. A couple of weeks ago I decided to listen to Tim Ferris’ podcast interview with Jane Goodall, a few days before Earth Day, as I enjoyed my walk with Rupert. 

    This was my first time really getting to know Jane Goodall. I’ve heard of her over the years in reference to chimpanzees but I didn’t know much more about her. As I listened to the stories of her childhood, I got a strong sense of who she was and where she came from. She came from the generation before there was a TV in every home, not to mention, now every room. 

    Instead of a childhood stuck indoors in front of some form of a screen, she relayed a childhood spent outside, chasing chickens to understand where eggs come from, and climbing trees. She had once spent so long outside, away from home, one afternoon that her mother almost called the police to help find her. 

    Her childhood in nature certainly formed her love of nature and animals which allowed her to grow into the woman she is today as an activist for chimpanzees and the environment. But even as she’s evolved with the rest of the world into the technological age, she hasn’t taken to screens the way the generations following her have.

    She reflects that to this day she’s not one to really watch TV. She’d rather read a book or spend time outside or with loved ones. As I heard her say this, I experienced this deep connectedness she had to herself, her family, and nature. There was a sense of wholeness unencumbered by the seductive nature of our modern technological world.

    The Backstory

    I, on the other hand, had a different experience growing up. By the time I came around, we were well into the age of TV. While I did spend a significant amount of time outside playing as a child, I spent just as much time sitting in front of a TV.

    As a young kid, my parents bought me a tiny TV for my room one Christmas. I was able to watch videotapes on it and even record TV shows on my videotapes, which I did religiously. Watching TV was my favorite pastime, especially as I began to hit puberty. 

    During puberty, I often found myself feeling super fatigued. I was so tired that I had no energy to go outside. Plus, being outside began to feel nasty to me. I didn’t like being sweaty and getting dirty. 

    To top it all off, during my seventh grade year of school, my family moved to the manicured city of Frisco, where I encountered for the first time, empty neighborhood streets. Children just simply did not play outside. It was alarming. There was a desolate, lonely, and isolating feeling to the neighborhood. But nevermind that, I had my TV. 

    It wasn’t until I reached college that I began to rekindle my relationship with nature and the great outdoors. But my relationship with TV didn’t begin to change until the last few years. I don’t recall what sparked it. I remember having a conversation with my partner at the time that I thought it was a good idea to get rid of cable. We could use one of the streaming providers instead for all our TV needs.

    It seemed like a big deal at the time to cut the cable cord. In retrospect, it was no big deal at all. My same TV consumptive habits continued with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube. You may know these habits. They look a lot like coming home from work and watching TV until bed. Days off from work were spent watching TV, too. Pretty much watching TV every day of the week, especially in the evenings, for several hours. 

    But over the last several years that all began to change. Slowly, I decided that watching less and less TV would be better for my spiritual well being. I started delegating TV watching to certain times. I did pretty well with cutting back. But TV has still very much been a central activity of my life. 

    Jane’s Inspiration

    As I walked along the creek and felt the wind blow past me and into the treetops along the surface of fresh leaves, Jane Goodall’s story grabbed my heart and mind. I could sense what a fulfilling life she lived. Her time and energy were well spent. At that moment, I got a strong desire to create a fulfilling, wholesome, well-spent life as well. 

    I sensed into my life as it is and as it has been and as it could be. I saw how in many ways my life has been very fulfilling. But it was only the day before where I sat on the couch watching TV, feeling this creeping feeling of doubt and fear that my life was passing me by. 

    At that moment, I felt scared that somehow I will arrive at the end of my life without ever having lived. Which is crazy talk, if you know me, because I’m such a proponent for living a passionate, soul-centered life.

    But there I was, feeling as though I couldn’t truly say I was living my most fulfilled life. And I couldn’t quite put my finger on how to get to that point. I couldn’t quite grasp how to move from that scared and doubtful feeling into a space of complete fulfillment.

    How does one finally arrive into the fullness of their life in the present moment? How does one finally get to that place where one can confidently say, “Yes, this is it. I am living my life to the absolute fullest (to the best of my ability, even within my unique circumstances). And this feels good.”

    While I can’t say this is the answer for everyone, but in listening to Jane Goodall I heard the answer loud and clear. What was one thing different about how she lived her life compared to how I lived mine? TV. 

    Her relationship with TV was drastically different than my own. First of all, most of her time is spent working towards her mission in life, which makes a true difference as well. But, in addition, she spends her free time, if she has any, reading, writing, being outside or with loved ones – not zoning out in front of a screen. She spends her free time in ways that nurture the heart, soul, mind, and body. 

    Not that TV can’t be medicine, as it surely can be at times, but I find now after careful reflection that TV has given so little compared to how much it has taken. When I look back over my life, years have been spent simply going to school or work and then giving all my free time to TV, and, somewhere between all of that, moments of joyful play with loved ones, frolics in nature, and deep dives into novels. But the latter far fewer than the former. 

    In my memories of life, I don’t ever reflect back and think, “Oh, that whole week I spent home from work watching TV was the best week of my life.” Never. TV creates a void in my memory, as though there are pockets of time where nothing happened at all. In reality, nothing did happen. I sat in front of a TV for hours, if not days.

    When I imagine my future from the perspective of doing life how I’ve always done it, I see the same void space filling my years, speckled with infrequent moments of fullness and life. If you imagine it visually for a moment, so you can have a taste and a feel of what I mean, think about the rest of the year (it’s spring now, so think through summer into fall and into winter). 

    Now imagine a year of memories mostly dark (representing restricted and narrow focus at work and the empty space spent vegging on the couch in front of TV) with a few breaks in the dark with memories that are bright, vivid, colorful, and full of life. It reminds me a bit of morse code: . —— .. —-. ——-. —. ———. ——–. . .——.—–.-.-.—–. Do you see how there’s so much more darkness than there is brightness?

    Work doesn’t necessarily have to be a dark memory for me. It tends to be because I spend all day inside a hospital for twelve hours. And if patients keep their blinds down, I won’t see outside. By the time I get outside the sun is setting. Combine that with the dark void of sitting in front of a black box. For you, it may look different. But for me, this is how I imagine my year will be – again – if I keep incorporating TV into my life as I have always done.

    Sitting on the plush, cool grass beside the pond where the creek terminates, I decided to see what my life would look like if I took TV out of the picture. Suddenly, I saw light and warmth fill my entire year. I looked down all the way to December. I felt so excited. I then looked out over the expanse of my whole life. It felt so good.

    I could see myself spending my evenings eating delicious food as I watch the sun set or reading a fiction book as I lay back on my chaise lounge on my patio and look out over a beautiful field with a line of trees on the horizon. 

    I can see long conversations over glasses of wine with friends and family. I can see nature walks and time spent playing with my dog. I can see myself traveling the world and working in my garden. I can see joy, laughter, and wholeness. The vision felt so good.

    I realized then that I needed to do it. I needed to quit TV. I got up off the ground and slowly walked back to my apartment with Rupert. Along the way, I marveled at the great trees that lined the roadway, and I soaked up the setting sun. A warmth began to rise in my belly. Inspiration tickled my bones. I went home and spent the night reading.

    The No TV Experiment

    By the time this post is published on my website, it will have been one week since I stopped watching TV. I’ll be giving up TV for one entire month. No TV means no Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube TV, or whatever streaming service. I may still watch YouTube videos of a length shorter than a TV show but not multiple in a row for a long period of time. This also includes no movies.

    At the end of the month, I’ll share another post about my experiences and all my reflections, as there will be many, I am certain. At the same time, I’ll evaluate how I’ll go forward. I’ll decide whether I’ll re-incorporate TV back into my life, as in how much and how often, if at all.

    The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether my vision by the pond holds any water (no pun intended). The question: does my life feel brighter, fuller, and more lively when I eliminate TV? In the process, I’ll have to grapple with another very important question: how will I spend all the time I’d normally be watching TV? Many things come to mind but I’ll cover all of these ideas in my follow-up post.

    Until then, happy living! And may nature be your greatest ally. 

    Photo by Aneta Pawlik on Unsplash

  • Health
  • Wise and Soulful Use of Quarantine

    flowers on a branch

    It’s been almost a month now since I started to self-isolate. I go to work and, if I absolutely must, I’ll go to the grocery store. I’m feeling the ache and pain of being alone. The time I would normally spend with others is spent completely isolated from the rest of the world. It’s challenging me to really dig deep within myself to uncover a sweet relationship with who I am at my core.

    On top of the mandated isolation, the Universe thought it’d be a good growth opportunity if I decided to leave my eight-year relationship at the same time. So not only do I find myself isolated from my friends and family but my partner no longer lives with me. In a radical decision to be responsible humans, we expedited our uncoupling timeline and he moved out one month ahead of our planned transition. 

    Between Two Worlds

    My time alone has seen me teeter on the edge of old, unhealthy habits and a call to dive deep inside and anchor new ways of being.

    Old habits got the best of me for about two weeks around the time the pandemic started in America. Leadership at the hospital decided my cohort of nurses would be the initial frontline staff for the COVID-19 patients, which posed a serious dilemma for my soon-to-be ex-partner, who was now required to work from home. We originally planned for him to move out in one month. And shortly after, he’d go to Michigan to spend a few months living with his elderly parents. 

    Exposure to me meant a hairy array of hoops he’d have to jump through to either return to the office or get to his parents without posing them a major risk. Fortunately, we had two days to decide our plan of action before I’d return to work and inevitably start caring for these patients. (Yes, a bit of sarcasm on the fortuitous nature of these events.) 

    The intensity of this decision coupled with the reality of now self-isolating, literally all alone, amidst putting myself in harm’s way each day at work by providing direct care for these patients created an immense amount of emotional and mental turmoil for me. I’m not the least bit surprised that under such great pressure my default coping mechanism became alcohol and TV. 

    Fortunately, I saw the habits for what they were and I quickly drew myself back and out of those destructive ways. But then I was left in a void.

    I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. Standing in this middle ground I looked to both sides. On one side I saw drinking, binge-watching TV, scrolling social media, getting lost in news, and fear and uncertainty. 

    On the other side, I saw… nothing. I hadn’t flushed it out yet. I didn’t quite know what existed there. But I needed to find out because I didn’t want to slide back into the old ways of doing things. I needed something new and different. I could feel that I was ready for it.

    What were the healthy alternatives? What was I being called to do? What would nurture my heart and soul? What would activate my highest and best good? What could I do that would utilize this precious time and energy wisely?

    I use the word “wisely” very intentionally. My soul sister used this word and I think it’s apt. We’ve been given a beautiful opportunity to consciously choose a new way forward. All of our “normal” routines and distractions have come to a grinding halt. The collective energy is centered in the home with the self. This disruption in energy patterns alone creates the perfect soil for planting, growing, and harvesting brand new and inspired ways of living and being. 

    The Choice to Be Good, Wise, and Healthy

    In my desire to harness the potency of these times, I asked myself these powerful questions, “What are ways I can embody my highest wisdom as I care and nurture myself over the next months? How will I choose to spend my time during quarantine?” I saw a whole array of options come into view.

    Here’s what came of it:

    • Walks in nature/outside
    • Contemplation and journaling
    • Meditation
    • Energy practices such as space clearing and grid work
    • Reading
    • Connecting with soul sisters
    • Ritualized offerings (to Mother Nature’s various forms and spirits)
    • Bringing conscious awareness to the energy reads I get of a person, place, or thing
    • Writing for HDL
    • Ceremonial grade baths

    I found a common theme after sitting with the energy of this list. What I see are practices that allow for deep openings and receptivity. At the heart of these practices is the act of unplugging from the old and intentionally plugging into the fine filament of a higher perspective that’s beaming through right now. It’s the work of anchoring a new way of being amidst the chaos of our times. 

    Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this list. There’s a revolution to be had in deep self-care. Fear, anxiety, doubt, and worry are flooding my nervous system in waves as I face each new day amidst a rapidly changing world. 

    Old routines and habits are dissolving and in its place remains a field of possibilities. A blank canvas, if you will. How I choose to respond paints the first layer on my new work of art. These intentional and wise choices and practices of conscious self-care absolutely set me up to take advantage of this massive opportunity. By choosing to act with clear intention I can feel a sense of higher purpose and service work permeate my actions. My self-care and wise choice-making serve not only myself but the good of all. In this knowing, I rest deeply.

    This clarity came during three delicious days off work. And at the end of three days, I closed my laptop and crawled into bed. I knew in my heart the wisdom of these days of rest would enter my cells and come with me into the new week, except I had a feeling it wouldn’t quite be the same. I seemed to know that something would shift. And these insights would take on a new flavor and dimension as I entered the new week.

    The Shortcomings of the Healthy Path

    I went back to work on a Sunday. By Monday I felt a distance form between myself and the juicy truths I touched on. I felt myself clawing for the familiarity of old routines – sitting in the front of the TV and lazying the day away – in the absence of this connection. 

    And it was no wonder because hard emotions had begun to surface as I faced another day in the shifting energy of my environment and routines. No longer can I look forward to the same end of day greetings from my partner. No longer can I passively move from one encounter to another with him, idling the time between. Now I am wholly responsible for my day. Now a new routine is set to emerge in the wake of the dissolution of the old.

    On this day, I struggled to re-engage the wisdom energy of the prior week. It took a great effort to make conscious choices that felt truly aligned with the prior week’s truths when all I really wanted to do was bury my head in the couch and forget life. 

    I thought I could just think about what I conjured the days before and do it and feel good and be happy, but it all felt off. It felt like I was forcing myself to be other than how I was. In actuality, I was completely disregarding how I truly felt in the moment. 

    By the day’s end, I couldn’t fit myself into the molds of last week any more. The list, although a good one, wasn’t working for me. Or, I wasn’t working for it. 

    My heart ached too much. It asked for new attention and energy unrealized by the mind. What I needed more than ever was simple nurturing attended to moment by moment; a true, honest look at how I felt and then actions based on my present moment experience, not a pre-prescribed plan for how best to utilize my time devoid of my present state of being. 

    I think I made a good list of tools to have at my disposal but what I failed to recognize on Monday was that the tools aren’t the starting place. It’s crucial that I look first within. I need to attend to the state of my being by getting a good read for how I truly am. From there, I can make a decision on which tools would be best. And that’s what I failed to do.

    Instead, I imagined a day being all “high vibe” and inspired, which went completely against how I truly felt. Sometimes nurturing looks like anchoring high vibe energy and practicing grid work. But sometimes nurturing looks like resting on the couch and watching TV. 

    I was too caught up in the narrative about making wise use of my time. I put a lot of responsibility and pressure on myself. My mind ran away with this notion of “wise” and “healthy” and had me believing that anything not on my list, or even any unconscious behaviors at all, were a strict no-no. Without even realizing it, I’d locked myself into a shame cycle. All in a matter of days. 

    I totally believe that making wise use of quarantine time is a good idea. But I really need to let go of any judgments I might have unconsciously formed in the process. If I fall back into old habits or act unconsciously, it doesn’t do me any good to berate myself for it. 

    Matt Kahn says it best. He says that even in those moments when we are doing the things we’d really rather not be doing any more, that’s when we need to love ourselves more not less. 

    He also offers that we will slip into old habits and ways of being for as long as we need until we reach a tipping point and roll forward into the next stage and evolution of our being.

    I was too quick to clump certain habits into the “unwise and unhealthy” bucket which prevented me from realizing their capacity to be medicine. So when my soul called for something in the “unhealthy” bucket I stopped myself, said no, and grasped for something ill-fitted albeit “healthy,” which created discord rather than harmony.

    While I certainly want to make good use of my time, I see that “good,” “wise,” or “healthy” are all judgments. My heart and soul are on another level. What makes something a “wise” use of time is not the task itself but how closely aligned my chosen tool is with my divine spark.

    Beyond Good and Bad

    My mind so badly wants to differentiate between bad and good. But the reality we are collectively stepping into is beyond this duality. It encompasses life as a spectrum. Nothing is wholly bad or good. It simply is. 

    The other week when I stood between these two worlds – old, destructive patterns on one side and healthy, new habits on the other – I thought it was either/or. I see now that it’s whatever the fuck I feel called to do when I feel called to do it, knowing full well that conscious attention to the harmony of my energetic body and soul is a clear guide. 

    Some days I’m going to want to be all spiritual and woo-woo. I’ll do the soulful thing. Some days I want to eat a hamburger, watch TV, and think about my childhood. What I’m committed to isn’t a list of tasks. What I’m committed to is my soul and the harmony of all my bodies – mental, emotional, soul, and spirit. I’m committed to following what feels right for me in any given moment. 

    It’s mind-bending to take this into consideration because following soul looks different for everybody all the time. Soul can ask me to do disciplined meditation for 10 years. Then one day I’m guided to stop. I don’t meditate for the rest of my life. Others may find that eating hot dogs gives them the boost they need where still others thrive on only water.

    What’s clear for me now is my intention. During these challenging times, my intention is to participate in life in a way that revitalizes, rejuvenates, and nourishes me. My intention is to follow the path that helps me most embody my unique soul. I now know that what will help me to realize my intention may not always be what I think it is.

    May you make wise use of your quarantine time in whatever way soul guides you.

    Photo by Mona Eendra on Unsplash

  • Love
  • After Dinner Writing

    computer and candles

    I remember a time when I’d finish eating dinner with my family and rush upstairs to my room so I could write something new for my blog. I wrote one blog post a week for almost a year. I was so excited about it.

    Excited but scared. I was afraid of people reading what I wrote. I felt concerned about being seen. I had never been one to divulge vulnerable truths or insights or wisdom with people, especially with my family. But despite those fears, I always seemed to have something to write about. I found something to say time and time again.

    It didn’t matter that the writing was bad. It didn’t matter that I wrote in huge blocks of text that I’d cringe at if I saw it today. It didn’t matter that my thoughts were scrambled from paragraph to paragraph without any sense of cohesive flow through the ideas. It didn’t matter that I used big words unnecessarily. All that mattered was that I was writing.

    I cared too much at that time about other people reading what I wrote rather than actually caring about what I wrote specifically. In the back of my head, I knew that my writing could be better and that I probably wasn’t as good a writer as I thought I was. But I’d graduated with a literary studies degree, I couldn’t be that bad. Right?

    Either way, my bad writing didn’t stop me. Lack of ideas didn’t stop me. And even though it’s what I cared about most, other people’s opinions didn’t stop me. Until it did.

    Every writer has their big “things.” Their internal criticisms and judgments. Their fears and blocks that keep them from writing. And I have certainly wrestled with my own over the years even though I see myself returning to writing over and over again, which tells me just how important it is for me.

    As I sit down to write today, I reflect on those first days of writing online. They were so sweet and innocent. Filled with so much promise and hope. I built my own little corner on the internet. I even had a follower who became someone I talked to on the phone. We even stayed connected over the years. We aren’t close by any means but she’s always been a huge supporter of my writing and we’re still friends on social media.

    In fact, I’ve made multiple friends through my writing over the years. Another dear friend of mine fluttered into my life on the wings of a sparkling, colorful unicorn thanks to a piece I’d written for an online Australian magazine called Wild Sister.

    About a year after I stopped writing for Wild Sister I got a Facebook message from this girl. She had read my article in the magazine and realized we lived in the same city so she thought she’d reach out. A couple weeks later we were sitting in a coffee shop across from one another connecting over our love of life. She’s still my friend today. And she brings so much color and joy into the world through her beautiful work. I’m so blessed to know her.

    Writing has afforded me so much joy and happiness and opportunities to connect with amazing people. But, unfortunately, I seem to lose sight of that. Instead, I get lost in all the internal fears and stories about having “nothing to say.” Which isn’t true. I have plenty to say. I have plenty to share. I’m just too busy getting in my own way to do it.

    So I’ve been on a mission to rekindle my youthful exuberance for my writing and my blog. I yearn for those early days of hurrying upstairs to write. And I know they can be mine again but in a whole new way. I know I can rekindle that love and enthusiasm.

    Tonight I drew a steamy bath, lit several candles, laid my rose quartz on the edge of the tub, and turned on “Awakening Dream” by Marina Raye on repeat. I nurtured and loved myself deeply.

    Insights and ideas flittered across my mind. And the memory of my first days of writing came to mind. I can have that again. I know I can. So here I am, writing, in my bed after dinner with a candle burning at my side.

    Photo by Reham Azab on Unsplash

  • Health
  • Intense Times: A Call to Return to Soul

    woman looking left

    Last week was intense. I haven’t felt pulled off track like that in a long time. My partner of eight years moved out on Sunday. And the pandemic intensified tenfold.

    An Unfortunate Rendezvous with Old Habits

    My regular spiritual and self-care practices started to slip the week before. The difficulties of ending a longterm partnership had me reaching for some liquid relaxation again; something I had stopped doing for several months.

    As I took in the possibility of spending weeks alone at home (aside from going to work), I stocked up on all the essentials including a large case of beer. I got all the goods tucked away nicely and neatly in their respective homes in my kitchen, including the beer. Then the my soul spoke…

    “Paula, what are you doing? You stopped drinking to be present and available for your spiritual practices and work. And you’ve greatly enjoyed all the benefits of not drinking. Now you’re a daily drinker again when your relationship ends and a pandemic hits? Let’s think about this. Does this decision feel good?”

    It was a gut-wrenching truth. My soul had me thinking twice. I spent the entire day thinking about how it would be nice to just have one beer. Just one. I fought with myself. I told myself no. Then the end of the day came.

    I walked to the fridge as I browsed my email. I opened an email from Lee Harris. Ah! A new podcast with a woman who wants to share all about the sober life. My jaw-dropped. Then I opened the fridge and grabbed a beer anyway.

    That first sip was great. Bubbly goodness. But the night wore on. I didn’t like how I felt. And I began to realize that I couldn’t do my Akashic Records work the next day since I decided to drink. Alcohol impairs my ability to read the field so my teacher recommends waiting 24 hours after consuming to do readings. Dang.

    As I crawled into bed that night, I realized it just wasn’t worth it. I’ve spent the last several months reducing my alcohol intake. I used to drink regularly; one or two beers a night for several years. I saw no issue with it. But this year things changed.

    I realized I didn’t like how I felt when I constantly consumed alcohol. It really kept me from being in touch with my soul and the energetic realms. It often left me hazy the next morning. I didn’t feel as motivated. And it left me feeling disconnected from my feelings and the direct experience of my life.

    So last year I started to slowly reduce my intake. I drank about once a week. And then at the end of the year, I pretty much stopped altogether. I drank only about once a month if even that. But that changed.

    In the fires of transformation, my vulnerable self gave in to old habits to try to find a way to make myself feel better. I see more clearly than ever how the use of alcohol and TV keeps people from truly facing the reality of their lives.

    If I drank a beer and just relaxed, I could forget about all the difficulties I was experiencing. So I let myself do that. But then I didn’t want to stop. That’s when I realized that drinking had turned from a one-night enjoyment into a tactic to numb myself from my problems.

    It’s a subtle and slippery slope. Fortunately, I caught it early. I am so grateful I did this for myself. It occurred to me the morning after that last beer while I was out walking Rupert, my corgi, that I didn’t want to drink. I didn’t want to drink because I wanted to be completely present for what was happening in my life.

    The transformation that’s occurring through the ending of my relationship is way too important to me. I care too much about this ending to numb myself to it. This ending deserves my complete and utter respect. I show that respect by being present and available through all the ups and downs. That means no drinking.

    Fear rose up within me. I knew instantly that if I chose to numb myself to all that was occurring I’d be missing out on important lessons and energetic clearings that require my attention. I would inadvertently create more karma for myself rather than aid in its clearing if I kept drinking. That’s when I knew that drinking every day was no longer an option for me.

    The Intense Distraction of the Pandemic

    I see more clearly now at the other end of what has been an insanely intense week. I see that what’s needed now more than ever is my complete presence and my dedication and attentiveness to all my practices. It’s not just for myself during my own personal transformation but it’s also for the whole world during this pandemic.

    It’s easy in today’s world to get distracted. People are scared and alone. And all the systems and patterns are undergoing an insane overhaul. The energy in the collective right now is extremely erratic and wobbly. If you don’t take conscious control of where you place your focus, then the collective will do it for you. And you might not enjoy the outcome.

    As I sat on my sofa yesterday afternoon, I realized how important it was for me to buckle down in my spiritual practices and to engage with others who are choosing to do the same. I reached out to my soul sisters and told them about my plans. I then got off the couch and took action.

    I started with what felt most right. I picked up a stick of palo santo, lit it, and slowly walked around my apartment. I continued to light the palo santo and walk as I drew my attention inward, gathered my presence, and opened to the moment. I felt the sacredness of life fill my chest and my steps. I felt the collective energy push out and away as I created a field of calm and peace. My entire body relaxed. The whole apartment filled with palo santo’s sweet fragrance. But it didn’t end there.

    The ceremony had only just begun. I felt my soul taking the lead. She knew exactly what was needed: a slow, hot, nurturing bath. I lit candles, gathered the perfect selection of essential oils, and played one of my new favorite albums. I gave this to myself. I meditated on my senses: the smells, the heat, the music, and the light. I took slow deep breaths. I touched each limb of my body and gave great love and gratitude.

    In these moments, I took charge of my focus and attention. Where the forces at play in the world at large would rather we endlessly obsess about the ongoing pandemic, it is radical to reclaim your attention and focus on that which you’d like most to expand.

    It is easy in these moments when the pressure is hardest, when feelings are difficult, when fears are grand, to give in and give up. But it’s a true spiritual practice to continue to consciously choose for yourself.

    No, I will not give in to old behaviors.

    No, I will not allow myself to be incessantly consumed with the fear and anxiety of the pandemic.

    No, I will not allow my sovereignty to be compromised in times of difficulty and challenge.

    Instead, I see here a great opportunity for me to hold stronger to my personal sovereignty, to stand taller for the new way of being I desire to see in the world, and to speak louder about the higher vision for all of humanity.

    Now is the time to claim what we most desire to experience in our own lives and to be an advocate for that. Do not let yourself be overcome and carried away. Or even if you do, trust that you will notice. Notice yourself being carried away in the thick of it but then stop, draw your energy inward, reclaim your power, and make a new choice.

    Yes, we need to be aware of what’s going on. Yes, we need to help where we can. Yes, we need to do what we must to protect ourselves and others. Yes, an immense amount of compassion is called for. Yes, how you feel is okay.

    And…

    We can remain sovereign beings who choose to anchor higher levels of light amidst the chaos by choosing to consciously guide and direct our attention and focus.

    Choose today to take a break from everything. Forget it all for a moment and listen to the birds. Forget it all and lay on your couch and listen to one entire album of music. Forget it all and go make love in the woods. Drop in to that space in the middle of your chest that pulses with love. Melt into that.

    With love,

    Paula

    Photo by Sandra Kaas on Unsplash

  • Love
  • Blessings for This Day

    woman hands in the air

    Today…

    May your fears be set aside for love.

    May your tenderness shine through.

    May your eagerness for life spill over.

    May your anxieties direct your attention in and down to the silent core of your being.

    May you know your own strength and courage.

    May you be inspired to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do.

    May you take the time to cherish yourself in new ways.

    May your family be blessed by your presence whether in person or virtually.

    May you light up someone else’s life.

    May you know the truth of who you are.

    May you bask in the blessings that change and disruption inevitably bring, even if you’re not aware of them yet.

    May you know patience at a time when uncertainties are high.

    May your presence be a day-to-day practice.

    May you take the time to stop and notice spring blooming all around in covert and secret ways or in obvious in-your-face ways.

    May the earth ground you and bless you and kiss you endlessly.

    May you be in a harmonious relationship with the spirits of the lands.

    May your benevolent and wise ancestors be our biggest supporters.

    May you continue forward with hope held deep in your heart for a future vision even greater and grander than anything you’ve ever known.

    May you know and engage with your breath intimately and frequently.

    May you share the kindness of your heart with others.

    May you and yours be blessed until the end of days.

    May abundance follow you wherever you go.

    May good things rain down – for all of humanity.

    Thank you.

    Amen.

    Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

  • Wealth
  • Vision: What It Takes to Go All the Way

    vision

    It can be easy in a moment to follow a flash of inspiration. Riding on a high, one inspired action leads to another. Complete works come into existence from the void. Whole new worlds are created. But for what?

    One-off projects here and there get you things. Lots of things. Intellectual property in the bag. But soon the clutter mounts on tables and chairs, in corners and cracks. The hypothetical room is full of things and no long-lasting impact to show for it. Just stuff.

    I love inspired action. You might even say I’ve been an inspiration addict. It used to flow through me like the Nile flowing north after a strong rain. I’d cling to a beautiful tree branch with buds, drag it out of the water, and a dig a deep hole to stick it in. I was stoked. I built… a tree?

    My inspiration led to this – action taken and completed. Unfortunately, one lone branch in the ground doesn’t build a house. One lone action doesn’t put up four walls, a chimney, and a roof and then maintain it for twenty years. One hurdle towards a goal on the back of inspiration easily breaks down and into nothing without the most important piece.

    A Vision is Your Driving Force

    A vision is the ultimate driving force. It’s the great aligner. It’s your roadmap.

    It gives you clues to your next step. It shows you which turn to take. It encourages you when you’re down. It reinforces you when you’re up. It gives meaning and depth to your actions. It reminds you about why you’re doing what you’re doing.

    It takes you beyond the initial stages of excitement through the dark post-inspiration void and to the path of steady consistent disciplined action.

    When you have a vision for the future you can see your way forward through the highs of divine inspiration and through the lows of human messiness.

    Because, trust me, the lows are coming. They are always coming. You can’t have a high without a low. It’s the cyclical nature of life. Look out your window for this wisdom. True power lies in capturing this awareness and applying it to your life.

    When you know you must face the downward dive of a once great high you can plan your way through it. You can see your way through it. Know where you are going and why. See yourself getting there. See yourself in the highs. See yourself in the lows. Anticipate what every low might be.

    Anticipation requires self-knowledge. You can’t anticipate what you don’t know about yourself. But you can anticipate what you do know. So take what you know (your weaknesses and strengths) and integrate that into your vision and how you see yourself fulfilling that vision – no matter what.

    For example, I know that during certain times of the month, and even during certain times of the year, I’m a lot less motivated than at other times. I know this. So how do I apply this knowledge? Well, I forecast it into my vision.

    I look into my vision in my mind’s eye. I see myself working my way towards it. I see myself in those moments when it’s hardest, when I least one to put forth the effort. I visualize myself doing the bare minimum that I need to do to keep on track. And then I see myself still going.

    I get through those hard times. I make it to the easier, lighter, and fun times. I see myself move through it all, doing whatever I need to, even if it’s only the bare minimum, to keep making progress towards my vision.

    No Vision = Failed Projects

    For many of my projects over the last several years, I failed to have a realistic vision for the future. Sure, I had a goal. I wanted to start a business, make money, create this thing. But these goals were one dimensional. They lacked legs. Legs get you places. Without legs, you aren’t going anywhere.

    A few years ago I wrote an ebook for nursing students. I also held a workshop to teach the same material. I planned to make a business out of it to make some money. The idea was solid.

    I set up a website and social media. I promoted my workshop and ebook. I launched my ebook and held the workshop. But then everything sputtered to a quick end. Why? Because I had no clue where I was going with it. I reached my goal: create an ebook and hold a workshop. But then what?

    I didn’t think about where I was going with these projects. What vision did they serve? None. I didn’t have a vision. I didn’t think about the longterm plans for my creation. So the entire thing came to a firey end.

    I played out this same pattern for several other projects over the years as well. I started a coaching business and a freelance writing business. I committed to personal projects of writing and sharing. I branded whole new websites for my writing. But for what? What was my vision? I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted a business. But, again, for what? Where was I going with it?

    I never considered the longterm implications. I never considered what would happen when I wasn’t inspired or motivated to work on the project. I didn’t consider what I truly wanted in the end. I didn’t consider what I was willing to give to make it a reality or what I was willing to do when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all.

    Inevitably, those moments came and went. And out went my project with it. I never took the time to see my projects making it through the other side of those deep lulls. I never envisioned my projects in their full glory with all their inherent implications for my life. So none of these projects made it anywhere other than just over the edge of the launch pad.

    Did I complete a bunch of projects? Yes. But that was it. Completed and done. The story never truly got told. It was like writing an amazing introduction to a book that was never completely written.

    Discipline and Commitment

    What’s difficult is having the capacity and wherewithal to continue forward towards a vision no matter what comes. But what makes it easier is actually having a vision worth moving towards through every high and low.

    It takes commitment and discipline to move towards your vision no matter how you feel in the moment. Inspiration will come and go. Commitment and discipline keep you on the path. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to stay committed and disciplined when you have a vision worth working towards; one that aligns with who you are on a soul level.

    A true vision, a soul vision, draws you out of yourself into action when you’re inspired and when you’re not. It’s an inner kick in the butt that you need to show up for yourself every day. Because if you don’t show up for your soul vision then you’re letting yourself down. And self-betrayal cuts deep.

    But more on all that at another time. Today get crackin’ on your vision for your life. What do you see yourself doing for your career/profession, in relationships, or for your self? What vision pulls you in and out so fully you can’t say no?

    Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

  • Love
  • Do You Hear the Cry?

    Life is changing rapidly these days. You can see it clearly on the world’s stage. Our darkest shadows express themselves in politics, warfare, natural disasters, and hate crimes in our own communities. Every day we think, “It can’t get any worse, can it?” And then it does.

    People are more polarized than ever before. We are choosing sides, laying stakes, and not budging. People take pride in being stubborn, calling names, and hating their fellow humans.

    God knows no sides. Life doesn’t differentiate between one or the other. That “other” is you. There is only one. One humanity. One spiritual body. One planet earth. One ecosystem calling for healing. And that healing begins with you.

    Do you hear the cries of the planet? The hurricanes that ravish our shores. The earthquakes that shake our cities. The floods that wash away our homes. Who are we to think that we can go on living the same way we did before? Let’s get all Einstein for a sec and acknowledge that we cannot find the solution to a problem at the same level of thinking that created it.

    We must start fresh, new, again, for the first time. And we are given that chance today – right now, and every day, over and over again. You are given that opportunity. You.

    Yea, it’s easy to sit back and look at the world and think about how there’s all this crazy shit going on out there. It seems easier to have another drink, another smoke, another cupcake. It seems easier to beat yourself up at the gym or force yourself to work longer hours. You can’t seem to stop watching TV or movies. The video games suck you in each night and every weekend. But those problems, the ones you see played out over and over again on the 24-hour news cycle, aren’t going away.

    Some of us will see these images and weep. Our hearts will break. And tears will flow down our faces, drench our shirts, and create a puddle on the floor around our bent over bodies.

    Some of us will see these images and get angry. Someone is to blame and it’s not me or you – it’s them! They need to be killed, beaten, isolated, or exterminated. We become red in the face and so heated that we take it upon ourselves to do the killing. We bring out our biggest gun and kill the innocent kids playing in the yard at the mosque on the corner.

    Some of us will see these images and die. The weight of the world has become too heavy. There’s no reason to live. Killing one’s self is the answer. Suicide, cardiac arrest, car accident, or cancer. Our time is over.

    But then some of us will see these images and know. We know what these images really are. We see the light beneath these shadows. The light that makes these shadows possible. And we give praise! We praise God, The Universe, for answering our prayer. We kneel before nature and give thanks to her beauty and bounty. We bless our fellow humans. We call forth all those who wish to welcome this light to earth with open arms and hearts. We worship!

    These problems are a reflection of the deep healing occurring within us collectively and individually. And it is you and I who are being called forth to heal this planet, to heal ourselves, and to heal each other. That means you, because YOU MATTER.

    No longer can you pretend that your individual life doesn’t matter. It is naive to believe that you can be on this planet and have no effect whatsoever. It is selfish to ignore the power that lies within you. It is reckless to think the world’s problems exclude you. And it is insane to think you can stay the same throughout this all.

    Do not be a vapid, ghostly body walking this planet. Because you have purpose and meaning. Because you matter. In that lies great responsibility. And you knew that when you came to this earth. You knew what you were signing up for. No longer are you allowed to shirk your responsibilities to this planet, to its people, and to yourself. In so doing, you put all in harm’s way.

    You need not run out to join a political campaign, activist group, or volunteer activity. You don’t need to write a manifesto, work longer hours, or give away all your money. You don’t have to do these things unless you feel called. At this time, what you’re called to do first is to love.

    Learn to love. Learn to let love in. Learn to see love as the driving force of the Universe. Learn to welcome love into your heart. Learn to give love to other people’s hearts. Learn to be love. In that journey, you will find a path that suits you. A path that heals this planet, its people, and you.

    We are each an individuation of the whole. And in the whole, we see reflected all that is within ourselves.

    Stop waiting. Stop denying. Stop hating. Stop thrashing. Stop resisting. Stop forcing. Stop talking. Stop shitting on this planet. Stop for just a moment. Take a deep breath. Let go. Surrender. And let in the mercy of God. You are needed now more than ever.

    Do you see the tragedies in your own community? Do you hear the cry of the coral reefs dying? Do you taste the poor quality food that’s poisoning you and your children? Do you feel the sorrow of your fellow humans losing their homes? Do you smell the rancid sewer waste filling our oceans, crowding our creeks, and polluting our streets?

    It’s time to get right with your soul. It’s time to come together. And it’s time for being love and allowing that love to move through you in miraculous ways. When you let the hand of God, the Universe, guide you, all you do will be like Midas. You will have a powerful touch that heals the planet.

    Remember: you matter. You mean something to this world. You have a gift. You have a talent. You have a vibration that affects the environment and the people around you. You matter. And now’s the time.

     

    Photo Credit

  • Love
  • How to Take Your Relationship to the Next Level

    take your relationship to the next level

    It’s easy in the beginning. You fall madly in love. You can’t get the other person out of your thoughts. You can’t wait to see them on the weekend. You buy gifts, go on dates, and do sweet things for no reason at all. Warm, fuzzy feelings fill your relationship.

    And then one day they don’t. You argue, disagree, or need some space. The other person disappoints you, doesn’t meet your expectations, or lets you down. You discover… a flaw. And unless the other person throws some serious red flags, this is the point when you decide whether you’re truly committed or not. This is where the rubber meets the road.

    A committed relationship gives you several opportunities, again and again, to go to the next level. And it all starts with you. You must first be solid within yourself (as much as possible) before your relationship with another can take on added layers and deeper meaning.

    Let’s just say, for now, you’re ready. You’re both ready. So what does it look like to take your relationship to the next level?

    You may be imagining some crazy ass shit like wild sex parties and threesomes or getting married, having children, or buying a house. These are natural desires and dreams for a couple for outward expansion. But there’s an inward expansion that must first be undertaken: trust.

    Trust is fundamental to the health of any relationship. And it’s the ingredient most frequently discarded in pursuit of outward expansion. Many people fail to develop deep levels of trust before getting married, having a threesome, or even having children. Our society pays no mind to the deep bond necessary to make such undertakings successful, yet encourages that young people get married, have kids, and buy a house pronto. But these achievements remain hollow when your relationship hasn’t undergone the natural inward expansion necessary to withstand such changes. The development of trust creates the foundation for the entire future of your relationship.

    Here’s how trust has evolved in my own relationship:

    A couple Sundays ago, my love and I were enjoying the one leisure day we would have together for three weeks. The one day. My guy had to take a bit of that time to meet with his business partner, which was understandable. That had been the routine for many months now. He said it would only take an hour. But it took three. And I was furious.

    In all my furry, I could feel this voice inside me say, “It’s okay. Everything will work out.” But I couldn’t let the furry go. It was so convincing. I stay committed to it, even after he got home. But I knew that I didn’t want it to ruin what time we had left together. Despite how hard it was to let those feelings go, I decided in that moment to trust that it was all okay, and I opened my heart.

    This same scenario has played out over again and again in varying situations over the last several months. I find myself with all kinds of feelings of irritability, frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and doubt. Usually, my expectations aren’t being met. He’s not being the person I want him to be. Situations aren’t turning out how I’d like them to be. And I don’t understand what’s going on. I feel out of control.

    When I feel out of control, I get angry, frustrated, and hateful. I feel insecure. I take it out on him by closing my heart, walling myself off, and hiding. Which only hurts my relationship. Despite, and with deep acknowledgment of, my feelings, I’ve learned that it’s up to me to return to love. And that requires deep trust. Trust in my self. Trust in my relationship. Trust in the Universe and Life. And trust that everything will work out.

    Trust can be hard to define. But I’m going to give it a go…

    Trust means letting go of your negative thoughts and beliefs and expectations about the other person. Trust means choosing to see the positive and expect the best until proven otherwise. Trust means allowing the Universe to work within your relationship and to be the guide. Trust means putting down the walls and defenses to be yourself freely without shame, guilt, fear, or insecurity – or despite these feelings. Trust means allowing yourself to love deeply so that you may be loved deeply in return.

    These deeper layers of trust happen within you, with your relationship with yourself and with your relationship with God/the Universe/Life first. As you cultivate these deeper layers of trust, you find that trust reflected within your most intimate relationships. And all your relationships for that matter.

    From this space of deep trust, which must be cultivated within both partners, you can take new actions to outwardly expand your relationship as a couple. With each new level of inward expansion, a new level of outward expansion can evolve. The process reveals one layer after another on an ever-evolving journey. More feelings. More love. More feelings. More love. The deeper your commitment to one another the deeper you both will go.

    It’s difficult to trust. An open heart is vulnerable. It’s scary. And it’s understandable that feelings of insecurity would arise. Past hurts surface. Future fears confront you. It’s a natural reaction to defend or hide. But that next level in your relationship requires your diligent practice of being vulnerable, heart wide open, with full faith and trust. Whatever the outcome, it’s the perfect experience for you and your relationship. Your open heart ensures the health and longevity of your relationship, at least with yourself.

    In those moments when it’s hardest, choose to trust that there’s something there for you. Enter that vulnerable, soft place within yourself. Meet your partner from that space. Go there together. And share yourself with him or her deeply. That’s how you take your relationship to the next level. From there, expand out with vigor and enthusiasm.

    Where have you closed your heart in your relationship? Where have you built a wall? Where are and in what way are you cowering from the opportunity to take your relationship to the next level? How can you trust yourself, the Universe, and your partner more? And what inward action can you take today?

  • Love
  • The Artist’s Path: An Exploration into Consistency as the Middle Way

    The Artist's Path

    As a nurse, I care for people of every race, religion, sexual orientation, attitude, and family dynamic. Care does not discriminate, nor do I. In taking care of such a wide range of individuals, I’m often surprised and intrigued by what I uncover about the humans I care for.

    One of my patients had a secret talent. After three days of caring for him, I learned from the doctor that the patient was a phenomenal artist. The doctor heard from the patient’s friend. Curious, I approached my patient, “Tell me about being an artist?” He said, “Well, what do you want to know?” I said, “What’s your art? Your medium? What art do you go about arting?”

    He explained that he’s a painter. He’s been painting since the age of four. He can render any image into an exact replica on canvas. He’s so good that he’s had people approach him about creating counterfeit art. They offered good money, but after some thought, he said, “I told them no.”

    It’s no coincidence that as we’re talking I’m thinking about my writing. I’ve been wrestling with my art the last several weeks. I’ve explored many avenues with my writing in the last couple of years but I hit a wall again and again. My writing has slowed to the pace of a blooming flower. I journal with vigor about the need, want, and desire to write. I write words on a blank page. But then never return to them. My publishing rate has dropped to a low level. And I’m turning in circles, wearing holes in my shoes.

    The artist went on to explain that he’d get a build up of energy like, “I just had to paint.” An image would enter his mind and stay. A pressure built in his head. Any new thoughts or ideas stifled in the presence of the one idea that wouldn’t go. Painting was the only answer. “I’d paint for hours or days. I’d get it all out of me. And then it would be gone,” he said. He paints by pressure alone unless someone specifically asks him to make a painting.

    I asked if he could draw me something, since we don’t have paint, but he said he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t feel like it. “No pressure,” I said.

    I walked out of the room and returned to the nurse’s station. Pressure. And no pressure. Inspiration. And no inspiration. The game of the artist.

    The pressure builds to a point that you can’t sit back anymore. You must take action. No matter the quality, you must at least take action. Relieve the pressure. And go on your merry way. But know that the pressure will build again, and you’ll be called back to your art, again and again. Maybe you like the back and forth, the tug-o-war between your logic and your art. But maybe you don’t. The cycle can be broken by adhering to the middle way.

    The Buddha suggests that enlightenment can be found between the extremes. And while I don’t need enlightenment, I desire a path that centers my being, keeps me focused on the heart, and allows me to endure, experience, and explore life in a way that satisfies, heals, and integrates. The philosophy of the middle way can be a source of continual inspiration for any artist, myself included.

    What fruit can blossom from consistency?

    Consistency, or practice, centers the soul. Consistency is a guide, ever returning your attention to the heart of the matter, the why, the work, the play, the life. There’s a quietness in consistency and commitment that allows the flow to keep flowing and life to keep giving.

    The artist explained that his friends and even strangers would praise his work and encourage him to do something about it. The quality of his art is worthy of great galleries and great money. But he reservedly shook his head and said, “No,” time and time again. Despite the urges of the Universe, the sirens calling to him from as close as they could possibly get, he turned away. He engaged in the cycle of extreme creation and extreme stagnation until he reached a point where he no longer created.

    Where could he have been if he had heeded the call? Where would his art be today? What homes and people would proudly boast the art on the walls? What beauty would be dispersed in the world? What inspiration would fill hearts and move souls?

    When you engage in the cycle of extreme creation and extreme stagnation you open yourself to the struggle of the return and the possibility of never returning. It’s harder to sculpt, mold, and transform the puddy of inspiration as it rebuilds itself within you each successive cycle. Inspiration will only call so many times before it leaves you empty handed as the artist who wouldn’t commit.

    I’ve never been a gambler. Why should I gamble with my art? And why should I deprive the world of the beauty and inspiration that could arise by sharing my work? Who am I to think that the world doesn’t need it? Who am I to believe that it’s too hard or not worth it? Who am I to turn down the call to heal the planet at a time when we so desperately need it?

    Answer me this:

    What art are you not creating today that could serve humanity in profound ways?

     

     

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