Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today's Medicine: Action

Bring me all of your dreams, you dreamers,
Bring me all of your heart melodies
That I may wrap them in a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers of the world.
-The Dream Keeper, Langston Hughes

I was given a book to read this quarter called "Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others," written by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky with Connie Burk. The quote above is from the cover of said book. It's a powerful and thought provoking book for anyone who works or lives in service to others. I highly recommend it. This week I started working actively with the ideas in the the section called Integrating The Five Directions into a daily practice.

Because my spiritual foundation is pagan in nature, I have different associations for the directions than what is discussed in Trauma Stewardship. I flowed with the differences, yet I kept coming up against the “it doesn’t feel right” thing and eventually I did some tweaking and managed to put them together in a way that resonated with me. I honor and respect the differences in the various traditions and this is how it makes sense for me:

East – Air – Finding Balance
South- Fire – Choosing Our Focus
West – Water – Creating a Space for Inquiry
North – Earth – Building Compassion and Community

I would add Spirit (as in Great Mystery, All That Is, God/ess) in the center with me as I find a daily practice for myself, alongside all the other helpful guides and guardians and ancestors that stand beside me.

It came to me during the Winter that was last week that I could create a ceremony to bring these concepts more into my life. I had a Yule log from last year’s tree and wanted to do something with Advent candles. Then it came to me that I should use the log with five advent candles, one for each direction and one for the center. For an hour each Sunday until Winter Solstice on the 21st, I would light a candle for each direction, consciously holding the intent of each direction for the duration of the hour. An example could be things like writing letters to friends or e-mails about community events, as well as journaling about how I’m doing with loving kindness for the North time period. Or writing about ceremony and how I’m going to incorporate balance into my life for the time allotted for the East. Optimally, I would give myself a half hour each day during the week of each direction to focus on how to bring that energy forward into my life. I know myself well enough to realize I may not do that, yet I’m hopeful that it will be so. I start today with the first direction:

East - Finding Balance

I like that gratitude is one path to balance. It’s too easy to focus on the negative and I know I fall into that trap more often than not these days. Taking that deep breath, feeling grateful that I can do so without too much trouble, allows me to see the blessings all around me. It is quite possibly the simplest way for me to banish the attitude of scarcity that plagues me during my worst moments. I know that the "attitude of gratitude" movement seems light and fluffy to many in our more sophisticated times, yet it simply works for me. Yes, I will most likely always feel a desire for more than I have. And yes, I am incredibly blessed for all the beings and wonders and delights in my life.

Another idea that is intriguing to me right now is dream work, especially as we move into the shorter days and longer nights. Looking back, I see that I’m less likely to daydream than ever before. Why is that? I decided to remedy this and I partook in one of my favorite idle day dreamings: I spent about forty-five minutes or so perusing, which lists properties for sale in the United Kingdom. I found a Scottish castle for sale for a measly 2.8 million pounds, not much eh? Yet the delight I had from looking at the photographs lifted my spirits, as I imagined what it would be like to live there. I had not realized until now how much I’ve shut off that type creativity, feeling that the dreaming was a “waste of my time.” As if! We all need a dream or two or fifty to cling to, especially in today’s world. So paying attention to my active dreaming and day dreams is a focus for me in the coming weeks.

Writing is another way for me to regain balance. I tend to process my challenges quietly, in that stoic Norwegian or English way of my ancestors. Only when I’ve reached a limit do I put on my crabby pants and go on a rampage. Yet I have not been writing much at all during the past several years. I have to wonder: is there is a correlation between my more frequent outbursts of irritation with the pettiness of the world and not using my writing to release? Most likely. A better question is how to shift my daily routine so that can allow time and energy to do the writing that is most definitely needed. And that is sure to be one of my main focuses during the coming week…

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today's Medicine: Every Day is a New Day

Stand up all you lovers in the world
Starting up a brand new day
-Brand New Day, Sting

And here I am again. I set my blog as my homepage many moons ago. Each day I open my browser and here it sits, patiently waiting for my return. There have been many moments of, "Oh! I should write that down!" or "I've got to post about this when I get home" over the past several months. Yet I allow myself to be distracted by e-mail, reading articles about Bigfoot on or I update my profile on Facebook. Other days, I feel utterly weary of all the unrelenting daily routine or worn out by having a really good day with friends and family and just need to take a long, hot bubble bath, followed by a nap with many cats. In any case, I have not given myself the space to write much of anything of note since Spring. My cup runneth over and mostly it's been a Really Good Thing(tm).

Maybe it's because the evenings are closing in earlier that I feel the draw to return to a regular musings on what each day brings. I also find that I am more apt to return to writing in the late Autumn and early Winter months. In any case, it feels good to sense an internal shift into self-reflection, self-adjustment and integrating the lessons of the past year. This Winter I hope to give myself the time I need to rest, to be in my body and listen to what it needs during the cold months and to process through the experiences this year has brought to me, for they have been many and rich gifts indeed!

I am grateful that the words are beginnng to flow again. I did not know how much I missed writing, tasting the words as they flowed from thought into form. The sensual feeling of a favorite pen between my fingers, the gliding of hand across paper and the clacking of my fingers across the keyboard are a forgotten delight. For me, writing is therapy. It's a way for me to see what's really going on in the shadowy depths of my brain and helps me to figure out why I react instead of respond or make the choices that I inevitably do. It's a creative process that brings great joy to my being. It's also a way to share with others, who might have a moment of, "Yeah, what she said" when reading my posts. Every once in a while it's nice to know that we're never, ever alone and that we all have ways to connect and relate to one another.

So today I'm celebrating my return to writing. I'm not entirely certain I will be writing daily, weekly, sporadically or even by the moon. I do know I'm more likely than not to write regularly, usually posting the thoughts and blessings and challenges that I face throughout my daily living. The other options are to either delete this blog, which is not something I'm ready to do yet, or change my blessed homepage so I'm not constantly reminded of what would really help me live the life I want to live...