Trust the Unfolding

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My mom woke up from a dream one morning and heard the words, “Trust the unfolding.” These words were particularly poignant to her and, consequently, to the rest of my nuclear and immediate family, because they provided hope during a year in which there has been great flux and uncertainty.

For me these words have been like dangling tree vines that I grab onto desperately as I feel the ground leave me. Sometimes there is so much uncertainty in the space I find myself that it feels as if my body is in between inertia and falling. Many times this year I have been unclear about my path. I have questioned whether I am finding my soul’s purpose in the work I do. I have had second thoughts about where I live. And I have wondered if the choices I have made that keep me so far away from my family in California are truly in the best interests and for the higher good of my family, particularly my girls.

As tightly as I have clutched onto these words, I have still found myself not trusting. This year in particular I have realized how painful it is to trust, especially as I consciously attempt to lead by my heart in academia. My heart, not my head, brought me to higher education. My heart drives my work with families of children with dis/abilities and sustains my vibrancy as I engage with others about community-centered work. However, it is very challenging to share my heart in academic spaces where mutual trust is rare.

So, I am learning to navigate trust by recognizing when people open their hearts or close them. In academia I have discovered that sharing one’s heart – regardless of the passion behind one’s work – is often avoided or cloaked in theoretical frameworks. There are many conditions, it seems, to when, where, why, and with whom we are able to open our hearts to one another freely and without judgment. I have begun to notice how people respond to me when I consciously open my heart. Some are immediately attracted to this energy, others are repelled, and many are perplexed, uncomfortable, or curious – but uncertain.

I believe that many equate leading from the heart first rather than from the head as academic suicide. In academia, one of the first pieces of advice I received from one of my mentors on my dissertation committee was to “put aside what you really want to do until you get tenure.” What I believe he meant was not to engage in the work I wanted to do that integrated healing modalities with children with dis/abilities which, in essence, was heart-centered work. Rather, he was advising me to set my heart aside for a bit and dive into the “head work” of publishing studies in reputable peer-reviewed journals. He knew, as well as I do now, that many peer-reviewed journals in my field would find my work “fringy” and outside-the-box.

Possibly, to his and other mentors’ chagrin, I have followed a somewhat unconventional trajectory in academia by making choices based in my heart. Some may argue that my choices have not been strategic or “smart” enough, but for me most of all my decisions have been heart-centered and have been made with the following question in mind, “Is this choice aligned with my soul’s purpose?”

Trusting the unfolding in academia feels impossible sometimes. There are so many expectations and pressures associated with “being successful” not only as a scholar, but also as a teacher, researcher, and service agent. I have experienced sensations of both inertia and falling throughout my career. These have been especially poignant when what I am doing seems completely out-of-sync with what my soul yearns for. My heart, as the doorway to my soul’s purpose, is also a barometer that is in constant calibration. It tells me if what I am experiencing is in line with my passions and deepest longings.

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When I write about trusting and listening to my heart, I am expressing the need to be in non-stop communication with the messages it is providing. When I open my heart to others and receive a sinking feeling or coldness from their response it is my heart (linked to intuition) that discerns for me their unwillingness to meet me in the open space I have offered. In attuning myself to these messages, instead of allowing my head to dismiss the warnings, I can remain intact – the essence of who I am untouched. Perhaps for many, the ability not to feel the heart’s communication has provided them with the armor needed not to internalize another’s distance and closed-ness. For me, a person who is empathic, I have had to learn the heart’s language to understand when it is safe for me to open myself to others.

The challenge is that in academic spaces when my colleagues and I are engaged in serious conversations about working with historically minoritized and marginalized peoples or exploring what anti-racist practices are in our courses and everyday interactions, I cannot separate my heart from my work. I want to create a safe, sacred space for all of us to be protected as we critically unpack our individual experiences from collective ones. I want to support in authentic ways each person as they explore their own emotionality within the intellectual and academic environments of which we have co-created and, to certain degrees, are forced into.

Trusting the unfolding means to be myself and to allow others to engage with me (or not) in the healing and transformative processes that are available to us as colleagues in academia.

I will continue to trust, and hope that the unfolding will manifest mutual understanding, respect, and love.

 

Keep trusting, never give up.

 

Love,

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Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring

“Ring the bells that still can ring,

Forget your perfect offering,

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.”

 

Anthem by Leonard Cohen

When I was recovering from my mastectomy in 2012 there was a night when the pain was so intense I didn’t think I’d make it through to dawn. I sat upright, propped up on my pillows trying to breathe, but my lungs would not fill with air. I thought to myself, this is the end. Then suddenly, I became aware of an orange, glowing light. I realized it was my salt crystal lamp illuminating the room. The light had not changed in intensity or brightness, but somehow my clarity had sharpened. In that moment of clear vision, I knew I would live even though my body felt as if it was breaking down and separating from my spirit.

I had read in Elizabeth Edwards’ memoir, Resilience, that when she was reckoning with her husband, John’s affair; her oldest son’s death; and her terminal cancer; she would remember Leonard Cohen’s lyrics from Anthem. The verse above was one that would come back to her repeatedly. These words became my anthem, too. I heard them from a distance getting closer to me as I weaved in and out of consciousness and clarity, the Percocet strumming on my neurotransmitters and brainwaves.

Cohen’s words carried me through, just as they had done for Elizabeth during her most trying times. I was, like Elizabeth, raw. Blood and bone. An imperfect offering for any god that would have me. But I was alive. My heart was still beating. With all my scars, tubes, and fluids, I knew that God’s light was close and that I, in all my bandages and imperfections, was loved.

These lyrics reminded me of my humanity and grace. Like Elizabeth, they ignited a thirst within to live, to love, and to overcome all the shit, fear, and darkness that threatened to extinguish my light.

***

Yesterday, 2017, five years later, Cohen’s lyrics came back to me but in a completely different context.

Yesterday, I bore witness to many young men and women – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students – speak of their love for our country. I listened intently to their personal narratives as they spoke, one at a time, in front of the large crowd standing on the State Capitol steps. I was moved by their immense gratitude for the United States in spite of the shit, fear, and darkness that threatened their safety and security.

Their stories highlighted the good within our country even though many of them and their family members had faced and continued confronting discrimination, hatred, and unfair treatment. They spoke of hope and of light. They described their dreams of being citizens and of working hard to build strong relationships between people, across borders, and among countries. They were young and held hands as they spoke. Their tightly grasped hands like chain links as they stood their ground and claimed the only place they knew as home. They protected each other, and we, in solidarity, formed a large circle around them to reinforce and strengthen their resolve.

The bells rung for us and we, responding to the light coming in, understood that our common humanity was what mattered the most.

***

Yesterday was a sad day for me as I listened to the testimonies of so many young men and women who face real fear and danger in their fight to stay in the United States and become citizens. I couldn’t understand, but could only imagine the betrayal many of them must have felt by those they thought loved and cared for them – neighbors, teachers, and even old friends. People who they thought they could trust were no longer their allies. This “reality” experienced first-hand reinforced ad nauseam by the mass media.

Yet, in the midst of this sadness church bells began to ring in the distance… God was reminding us to hold tight and take heart.  The Light was coming in.

This is not the end for our DACA students. It is not the end of hope, either.

It is a moment to choose who we are and what we stand for.

 

How will we respond?

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Interview with Linda Maxwell & José Quintanar, Founders of “We Care for Youth”

It is my honor to engage in dialogue with Linda and José about issues and challenges related to youth. I am particularly excited to present their work through a series of video-blog conversations because, in these discussions, they unpack for us what it is to actively listen to youth and act upon the creativity and ideas youth have to offer. Their message is particularly impactful during these divisive times in which historically minoritized youth and their families are positioned as “criminal,” “illegal,” and “un-American.”

Linda and José are founders of the non-profit, youth-oriented, organization “We Care for Youth.” In many ways their activism is a product of a long-term commitment of ensuring the integrity and respect for youth of all backgrounds, particular youth struggling with trauma and violence. Linda and José share tools of authentic engagement that emerged as they listened to the needs of youth who were experiencing difficult and painful periods in their lives.

This conversation is an introduction to who they are and their work. It is also a lived narrative exploring their individual connection to spirituality as they delve deep into youth’s experiences of grief, hope, understanding, and love.

Please take a moment to visit their website: We Care for Youth

You can reach them directly at: WeCare4Uth@aol.com

We thank you for taking the time to engage deeply in their shared story. This is Part I of our continuing conversation.

With love,

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Our Own Constructed Reckoning

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There are many things occurring right now in the world and I am trying to catch my breath.

Last week I wrote and wrote trying to make sense of all that is happening, but my reflections were all over the place and I didn’t feel comfortable posting anything. I just needed to vent and figure out where I stood in light of events in Charlottesville and Barcelona (where I was vacationing one month ago!).

My thoughts have landed on the connection between “being a good person” while, at the same time, perpetuating racism – albeit consciously or unconsciously. Being bi-racial and phenotypically White, I pass for many ethnicities and nationalities. I recognize I have privilege in maneuvering in many circles.

It is this privilege I have been contemplating deeply this week especially in light of White Supremacy groups we just witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia. Coming from a Mexican, Irish, and Italian background (a trifecta of Catholicism), I have also been thinking about how we, as Christians, Catholics or other Christ-centered denominational people, have distanced ourselves from White Supremacy. We, “good Christians,” could never be equated with those other violent people who take to the streets with their neo-Nazi slogans and vile pronouncements against Jews and other groups. We are not racist. We are good people.

Yet, how many of us (White people) choose “good schools” and “safe neighborhoods” where little to no people of color (e.g., Blacks, Latinos, Muslims…) can be seen?

How many of us go throughout our day only seeing and interacting with people who look like us?

How many of us choose spaces and places where we know implicitly or explicitly that we will be around people like us?

If we answer “yes” to these questions, then we are complicit in contributing to a system set up to privilege Whiteness.

Even within my own family I bore witness to White members of my family making derogatory remarks about my Mexican family. Most of these comments were in jest or said in “good fun.” But their impact was not lost on me, even at a young age. These jokes carried the implicit message that Mexicans were less than, inferior. These family members would be offended at being called out for their racist remarks and would deny being racist. Yet, it is important to understand that Whiteness and White Supremacy is systemically embedded within our institutions, traditions, and “American” values. I am not saying that most White people – like some of my family members – go around being overtly racist, but I am saying that many of us do not realize when we are engaging in and perpetuating “covert” racist behaviors.

Here is a helpful visual to understand what some of these behaviors are:

Overt and Covert White Supremacy Chart

(Image is not mine, but at the moment I cannot find the citation)

Further, it is problematic to say that we are not racist because we are “good Christians.” The two are not mutually exclusive. As Dr. Robin DiAngelo (see video below), states, “we don’t live in the spiritual realm, we live in the physical realm … and this insistence that we are all one doesn’t allow us to engage” with the social reality that we live in a racialized society in which the White race is seen as superior. In other words, even though at a deeply spiritual level WE ALL ARE ONE, we do not live in a physical reality in which every person is treated as such.

We have to remember that our American history was built upon slavery, colonization, and violence in spite of our reverence for “freedom and equality” as espoused in the Declaration of Independence and our U.S. Constitution. Even if “all men are created equal” there was an implicit understanding of who these men were and who they were not. Fast-forward to 2017, it is obvious that these men were not meant to be women (particularly women of color), Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, indigenous “Americans,” Jews, LGBTQIA, people with dis/abilities and many other peoples.

Further, even though these other groups have contributed to our society and have made certain gains, their successes are still predicated on whether or not they have “made it” in White society, particularly a male-centric White society.

Attempting to live on a spiritual path, for me, does not mean being blind to the inequities all around me. It does not mean to be passive and silent. It does not mean to retreat into my room or my inner self and escape from physical reality. It means shedding everything. It is a full deconstruction and disassemblage of all that I know and all that I think I am.  It makes me ask if we, as a population, can exist without our systems and socially constructed reality. It forces me to reckon with who I am, at a soul level, rather than the persona I know as “Cristina” and to come clean with my own privilege and navigation of it.

Being on a spiritual path also means I need to be awake and courageous. It means I should LOVE in radical and outrageous ways. It means I must extend myself in ways I never have before … to seek and reach out to MORE rather than less people. It means to get out of my comfort zone and speak up and out for justice and equity … in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities.

***

The main message is this: We can be good people and still perpetuate racism.

I no longer want to be part of a system in which hate and separation can exist.

Now is the time for me (and US) to get our hands dirty and do the work to change systems that no longer reflect who we are. We must strive to create a world in which we can become the divine, unified spark that is LOVE… unconditional, authentic, and deeply connected to our universal, gorgeous humanity.

Below I share an important video by Dr. DiAngelo. I implore you to watch it as you contemplate and reflect upon your understandings and positioning in relation to Whiteness and White Supremacy. We are reckoning with a reality of our own making. May we find the strength to be honest with ourselves and others in how we play our parts.

I appreciate your open heart and active listening. This message is challenging and uncomfortable, but it is time to reckon with our individual and collective constructions.

Always, with love,

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Understanding the Soul’s Messages

angel with trumpet

The other day I was engaged in a guided meditation that involved going from one room in a house to another. Each room was filled with different colors, sensations, objects, and light. One room, in particular, felt very familiar. The woman’s voice guiding the meditation described the room as having a smoky aroma akin to wood burning in a warm fireplace. In my mind’s eye, I saw the red and orange glow of the fire and beautiful rich, oak walls and floors around me. I seemed to be in a large den full of shelves, old books, and brassy objects. There were many dark nooks and corners around the room, but they were not unpleasant. They felt mysterious and interesting, but I was unsure about walking toward them. Instead, I focused on the joy I felt. I sat down by the fire in the plush, soft leather couch draped with a beautiful crimson, knitted blanket. I was lulled into a profound state of serenity and wanted nothing more than to wrap the room around me like an enormous, fluffy robe.

In what felt like a long time later, I found myself still sitting in the chair by the fire. I seemed to have regained consciousness. Maybe I had fallen asleep. Deep, amber hues spilled in through the windows casting warm shadows against the walls. I breathed in and suddenly remembered one of the upstairs rooms in my grandparents’ house. The musty air was comforting, rather than suffocating. I sensed my grandparents’ presence. Though I could not see them, they felt to me as if they were just beyond my sight. All I needed to do was to call out to them and they would enter the room through the main door. This made me smile. Knowing they were nearby helped me to let go of any inhibitions I had about exploring this room.

I looked around the room. Resting had refreshed me and seemed to have sharpened my vision. The room was getting darker, but the fire still burned brightly. Shadows from the fire now flickered making the room dance in brilliant reds. My eyes wandered to each of the darker corners. Slightly illuminated, they began revealing their secrets. It was then that I saw it. In the far left corner of the room there was a large wooden chest. It looked like a pirate’s treasure box in which gold, silver, and other valuables would be stored. There was a beautiful hue of deep ochre emanating from it. I got out of the chair slowly and walked toward it.

Suddenly a man’s steady and gentle voice spoke to me. His voice seemed to radiate from the light around the chest. He said, “Open the box and choose one treasure. You may not know for what this object is at this time, but if you ask, its purpose will be revealed.”

Intrigued, I slowly opened the chest. The chest’s contents were obscured by the increasing brilliance of light now blinding my eyes. I reached in and pulled out an awkwardly large object. I didn’t know what it was at first. I had to turn it over in both of my hands repeatedly to make sense of it. It seemed to be an ear trumpet, though at the time I didn’t know it by name. I remembered seeing old, black-and-white photos of people in the nineteenth century who were hard-of-hearing using ear horns or trumpets to hear. The one I held was larger than the ones I had seen. Made of brass, it resembled a clarinet with a bell circumference similar to a mellophone or French horn. I placed the skinny end of the instrument into my left ear, then into my right. Nothing happened.

I closed the chest, held my ear trumpet loosely, and said “thank you.” I asked silently for its purpose to be made known to me and and slowly came back into waking consciousness.

I was now in my bedroom sitting up in my bed with my head against the wall. What was that all about?

***

I started to think about the meditation. I had been listening to a guided meditation by one of my favorite online teachers who works with the angelic realm.1 Unlike other spiritual teachers whose works I have studied or who I have “followed” online, this teacher was humble, grounded, down-to-earth, and not interested in making a quick buck.

***

Reflecting upon this experience, I realized I didn’t know what it meant. I started to analyze the treasure chest, the male’s voice, and the “gift” of the ear trumpet. I examined the information analytically, the way I scrutinize data results when reviewing academic manuscripts. I thought through the meditation, looked for evidence that aligned with what I thought the purpose of the ear trumpet was, and questioned apparent discrepancies. For example, did it matter that the den with a fireplace in which I originally found myself somehow converted, in my mind, to an upstairs room in my grandparents’ house?

I then approached the memory of the mediation from a reflective stance. Maybe the ear trumpet was a metaphor for being more open to the messages that others around me were trying to communicate. Maybe our internal “treasures” were not discernable until others pointed them out to us. Maybe the man’s voice was my ego feeding me what I wanted to hear:  the “gift” was the proverbial, “magic bullet” that would give me all the spiritual insight and knowledge I had always sought.

After these examinations, I felt dissatisfied and somewhat drained. What was the point of going into a peaceful state of meditation if I was going to examine the hell out of each detail? Goodness, how exhausting!

I spent the next few days not thinking about the ear trumpet gift or the meditation. I had many other distractions … preparing for fall semester courses, organizing a research study, helping the girls with their respective transitions to first and third grades, and watching Game of Thrones with my husband… (Yes, the latter distraction has been quite entertaining but time consuming).

Then last night, in-between wakefulness, I heard his voice again. In a tone, not unlike that of a parent who watches their child fall from running down the stairs after being told not to do so a hundred times, he said, “Use the earpiece in meditation to hear us.”

I woke up, startled. His voice had been very loud in my left ear. My left eardrum was vibrating.

I sat up and looked around the bedroom. Everything was still.

Then, the thought, “Of course!” The ear trumpet2 was not a metaphor. It was an actual tool to hear in the spirit realm! I had been given a tool to hear!

I had overthought, over-examined, over-reflected, and over-analyzed what was meant to be a simple, literal message. The ear trumpet was a response to my years of asking for a concrete, “real” tool that would help me discern, understand and interpret my soul’s messages.

I had forgotten how to trust my heart and soul’s inner wisdom. I had forgotten the language of the soul and the way in which it communicates directly through visual images, emotions, memories, smells, tastes, sounds, and touch. I had forgotten the beauty of the story within. It was not just “imagination” but a real space, a co-creation between my “physical” and higher Self.

***

Today, as I write this, I have a renewed sense of excitement as I approach meditation and prayer. Spirit has communicated to me through my soul’s language how to hear the messages of my heart.

***

I am happy to share this experience with you. I hope it provides you with restoration, remembering, and revitalization of the power you have within to explore your Soul’s language and landscape. Hold your dreams tightly and trust that you are receiving messages in every moment of sleep and peaceful relaxation.

Be open and embrace who you are!

Much love,

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Footnotes

1This qualifier is important for those reading this blog and who are skeptical about meditation, distrustful of spiritual teachers, or unsure of the experience I am sharing. I hope to assure you that, over the years of spiritually seeking, I am very cautious about who I trust to learn from on my spiritual path. I have not always been discerning and have been burned (not literally) many times. Though I have not spoken explicitly about this before, I have had experiences throughout my life that I cannot explain in a “logical” manner. I have had subtle and very visceral experiences with the angelic realm, but the most memorable have been from childhood. That said, I elicit guidance and protection on a daily basis from angelic guides and now I am sharing one of my experiences.

2In choosing the photograph used with the blog, “An Angel with Trumpet,” I was given the insight that the trumpet is the communication bridge between the heavenly and earthly realm. We only need to be open, listen, and heed the call.

 

Overcoming Internal Resistance

Tug of war 2 peace 1

The last couple of mornings I have woken up feeling like my life’s equilibrium is off. It’s a very strange and uncomfortable space in which to reside. It feels like I am having a tug-of-war with myself and no matter how hard I try to find peace, I sense parts of me resisting and surrendering simultaneously. This is causing an inner friction that manifests in frustration, confusion, and exasperation.

I am taking some quiet time for myself right now to figure out what is going on. As I breathe, I listen to my inner whisperings. I am struggling with beginnings and endings. And, within this struggle, I am also challenged by old energies onto which I am fiercely holding. I am stubbornly holding on to that which I know is not serving me and I am trying to figure out why.

I think part of the answer is the tension I feel trying to be true to my heart while listening to my head.

See, there is the me who has a very expansive vision of what I want my life to look like. This vision, created in my heart, requires many resources and several synchronistic events to align. This vision makes me feel lighter and happier. When I think about my life through this vision I see myself committing energies to people, activities, and locations that enlighten rather than dampen my spirit. This is one aspect of my vision: I am running a center for families in a beautiful, picaresque location in which educational and wholistic healing modalities are integrated naturally. Families, children, and communities come together to co-create educational, learning spaces that build on their assets and expertise. The Center’s resources are accessible and free. There are opportunities for everyone and the Community insulates and supports families, particularly families whose needs are varied and great. Though I am “running” the Center all this means is that I am ensuring the facilitation of resources and continued communication among those involved. Leadership is organic, grows naturally over time, and is in concert with the dynamics emerging from mutually respectful and compassionate interactions.

When I write what I feel in my heart, my spirit ignites in heat and energy. I believe I am seeing a potential timeline in the future when this vision of a family-centered Community with multiple opportunities for healing, learning, and growth can manifest. I feel no resistance when I envision this space.

The resistance begins when my mind questions the details and logistics:

  • How am I going to get the resources to make this vision happen?
  • Where is this Center located? Where can this space realistically exist?
  • When can such a place exist? Is there sufficient funding and resources that would allow this vision to become concrete?
  • What will it take? And, who will be involved to bring together all the elements needed to manifest this vision?

There are so many other questions that fill my mind, too. These questions have to do with my family’s needs, our current location, my desire to be reunited with other family members, my short-term career goals, and personal finances.

I find that each time I begin to question my vision I feel an emotion akin to defeat. My mind takes over and tells me all the ways that I will not be able to manifest what I want. I hear messages such as:

  • “You don’t have the money to do what you really want to do.”
  • “Time is running out.”
  • “You’re getting older.”
  • “You have unrealistic, unattainable goals.”

And so on and so on…

Listening to my mind question my heart’s passion only brings me unease. I am learning this about myself. But this lesson is confusing because I have been told by others, many of whom have my best interests at heart, that I need to “be realistic” and “practical.” And, yes! They are correct. In many ways, being realistic and practical have gotten me to where I am now. I have had incredible educational experiences that have led me to my current faculty position. I have followed all the steps and most of the advice I have been given. I have worked hard. I am extremely grateful for the work I do and the career I have.

Yet, there is a deep longing for more. This more is hard to define. But it has something to do with what I have written before about the difference in being and doing. As I reflect, I believe that my heart is about being and my mind is about doing. Both are important. I recognize this. The mind, however, can be so judgmental. It can sabotage an idea (or a vision) even before that idea is given wings to fly. All the questions I share above are ways I clip my vision’s “wings.” It’s like overprotective parents who limit their child’s experiences to “protect” that child from getting hurt – even if, deep down, they understand the value of the experience.

The more that I long for is about being in my heart and experiencing my heart’s desires. This is challenging, however, while living in a world where one’s worth is assessed by what a person does. Personally, I completed my checklist of BIG “to dos” years ago.  As a teenager and young adult my list included:

  • Live in Spain
  • Live in Mexico
  • Learn Spanish (literacy)
  • Get Doctoral Degree
  • Get Married
  • Have Children

By age 38, I had accomplished all my “life goals.” The “checklist” was complete and I really didn’t know what else to strive for and accomplish.

At 40, I was diagnosed with cancer. Life, it seemed, had other things in store for me. As I have written before, I came to the realization that there was more than just doing. Life had to be about being who I wanted to be and feeling fulfilled with the choices I made.

Fast-forward to the here and now…

What is this longing for more I am feeling? What is this tension between resistance and surrender? Why am I still grappling with being and doing? What needs to end? What is beginning?

These questions are interconnected. The more for which I am longing is to live from my heart deeply and intensely. I desire being who I am authentically without fear of judgment from myself or others. I long to surrender all my cares and worries of what others will say of my choices. I am tired of resisting what I really want in order fulfill others’ ideas of who I should be within the context of my profession, my familial roles, my gender, my race/ethnicity, and my language. I am exasperated that I continue to allow myself to NOT LIVE FULLY out of fear!

Goodness!!! Cancer, one of my greatest teachers, taught me to not fear FEAR itself. And yet, here I am not living fully because I am afraid. I am afraid that the path I am on will not lead me to my vision. I am afraid that I will let people who love me down. I am afraid that I won’t live up to others’ expectations. I am afraid that I will live a life where I am doing, doing, doing and not being.

So, what are the next steps?

I feel that it’s time to take action and be courageous. Since moving to Indianapolis, I’ve had one foot tentatively planted here and the other feeling it’s way around other places. I have been consciously NOT LIVING FULLY because I have been waiting to see where I should root myself. This transitory existence has been purposeful, but now it’s time to make firm decisions. I need to ask myself what is beginning and what is ending? Can there be multiple beginnings in the spaces I hope to create or will there only be room for one beginning at a time?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but it’s time to LIVE FULLY from the heart and be who I am without fear.

The exercise of writing down questions and trying to answer them honestly provides clarity for better understanding these internal tensions of surrender and resistance. Questions such as: What can I surrender right now without compromising my authentic self? and What am I still resisting and why? provide direction on a path that has been muddied by confusion and uncertainty.

Though I cannot say I am completely clear about what my next steps are I do feel that, by taking this time, I have overcome some of the resistance and frustration I have been experiencing. The root of some of my inner agitation stems from knowing what my heart wants but questioning the path about how I am getting there. I have been questioning the circuitous nature of my path and wondering why it’s not clear, straight, and to the point. I have a sense now, through this reflection, that I must heed the lessons on the journey rather than putting so much stock in the outcomes. I have a feeling that if I can trust my own decisions along the path that what I truly want will unfold before me. I have resisted this. I have wanted to control this more. I have wanted a clearer path full of bright lights and directional signs. Instead, I am being given subtle, quiet nudges that remind me to trust myself and surrender to the current that will take me toward my vision smoothly, more quickly.

I share this long reflection with you so you will not feel so alone, the way I sometimes do on this journey. We are all here together trying to find the way toward our true Selves – the brightest path we can take. I thank you for taking the time to read what I am trying to articulate. Please know that however we all seem on the outside is only one part of the story. We are all complex spiritual beings in human form who are attempting to figure this life out.

We are all trying to find the least resistant current and, in doing so, discovering a space where we can lie down peacefully and surrender all of our concerns.

Much love to you on your individual journeys,

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Returning to a Different Mind/Heart-Space

Last week I returned from Spain after having had the opportunity to explore Barcelona and Zaragoza with my sister-in-law. I hadn’t been to Spain since 2000, and could not believe how settled and at home I immediately felt. Where in the States my Spanish sometimes feels choppy and forced, in Spain, my words seemed to flow. Vocabulary I thought I had lost suddenly reappeared naturally in conversation.

I also remembered parts of me that I had forgotten. Over the past 10 years my life has been centered on my family and career. This is a statement, not a complaint. In fact, it is a happy truth. I am happy to have been blessed with an amazing family and a career in higher education. But being in Spain, reminded me of who I was before being a wife, a mother, and a cancer thriver. Being in Spain was expansive. My heart felt open and eager. My mind was hungry for adventure and exploration.

It was as if different parts of who I am and who I have been came together and reconnected. In some ways, I revisited the young 20 year-old I was when I first visited and lived in Spain. I was returning to my youth and remembering how it felt to believe so much in possibility, opportunity, and hope for the future’s unfolding.

In Spain, I also recognized distinctly the gravity of my years. I realized I have allowed life to feel heavy. Many events, activities, and appointments have weight to them. There is responsibility and accountability attached to everything I now do. There is so much to now do. My life has become one of doing and so much less of being.

As my adult self merged with my younger self I felt the burden of doing dissipate. I was not in Spain to do. I was in Spain to be. The difference was intoxicating.

The daily push for me now, upon my return to the States, is remembering how to authentically be my expansive, youthful self in an adult body living an “adult” lifestyle. Already I feel the pressure to do – to keep deadlines, to make appointments, to prepare for classes, to maintain the household chores, and to ensure my children are having all their needs met. Again, these “to dos” come with the choices I have made, and these choices are happy ones. Yet, how do I find harmony in all these doings while striving to nurture being who I am in essence and spirit?

I am exploring this question now before the fall semester begins. I look forward to reframing my heart and mind so I will not forget the free and expansive spirit I have remembered lives within. I see this spirit as a wild horse galloping hard through the bramble and weeds. She is free to run and completely herself.

Maybe we can all take some time to recall our expansive and wild spirit before we heavily structure our lives for this upcoming academic school year. Who will we uncover?  Who do we remember being?  How shall we nurture the exciting and wondrous feelings that arise with our remembering of self?

Please feel welcome in sharing your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

With love,

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