Profound Puddles in Your Life

Tell me, have you fallen lately? I don’t mean this literally. I mean, have you taken a step that you thought would lead you forward, only to find you missed your goal completely, and maybe landed in one of life’s puddles.

When I was in Junior High School, I went out for the tennis team. It was going to be a stretch for me to make the squad, but I thought it might be good for me. Well, that’s not entirely true. My parents thought it would be good for me.

When I got there, seven other guys were waiting for the coach to arrive. We lined up and were assigned to four courts and told to volley with a partner. The coach watched us for a while, then asked us to gather around for his decision.

I’d made the team, he told me. I was pretty enthusiastic about it, that is until I discovered everybody who showed up made the team.

Over the next couple of practices, we all played against each other to establish our ranking. The top ranked player was number one of course. When our names were posted I scanned down the list. There I was, I’d been assigned as player number eight. Well, nowhere to go but up, I thought.

Every day after school we’d head out to the courts for practice and matches. When the weather was great, everything went along nicely. But often the courts would be full of puddles from our frequent rain showers, and we’d be forced to push the water off them, using long poles with wide flat rubber heads. They were supposed to clear the surface. They didn’t and we would have to do our best to play around the more obstinate puddles.

I don’t know if you’ve ever played tennis on a court with puddles, so I’ll give you some insight. When a fast-moving tennis ball hits a puddle, it skids wildly. There is no predicting which direction it will travel and it’s a rare thing to be able to return the ball back over the net. Not only that, striking a soggy tennis ball is like hitting a grapefruit.

Fortunately, practices were short those days.

As a side note, I eventually moved up to number six, but never played against kids from other schools, since only the top four played official matches. Actually, this was okay with me.

Over the course of my life, I’ve discovered that the tennis court is not the only place that has puddles.

The puddles I’m talking about now are those that potentially await us all. The death of someone close to us, an intense physical challenge, a financial set back, a string of endless arguments, the loss of a job, an accident, or the end of an important relationship.

They don’t happen every day, but you never really know when they’ll appear. Some days I feel surrounded by them. And some of them are quite deep.

Maybe you’ve stepped in a few yourself.

So, what do we do when confronted by life’s challenging puddles?

We have a lot of choices. We can swear at them and blame everyone and everything around us. I do this occasionally, even though I know it isn’t helpful. In those weak moments, I try to give myself some slack. I try to stand as far away from my circumstances as I can and be an observer, hoping the distance gives me better perspective. If I am kind to myself, I can see more clearly and often find some value within the experience.

Other times, I am able to adapt to the puddles I fall into. It’s not that I enjoy them, but I don’t resist them as much, which makes it a lot easier on me. I try to accept that difficulties happen to everyone and that there is almost always a pathway out. I try to shift my thinking away from my anger or resentment and toward solutions and growth. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a lot better than remaining in the puddle.

On my best days, I go inside myself. I rest for a while and slow down. I remind myself that everything that happens in my life is there to serve me in some fashion if I’ll only take the time to look closely and listen to my heart. Finding the beautiful message opens my world and allows me to release any unhelpful thoughts.

When I do this, I don’t mind running along and jumping in the puddles.

A Case for Not Living in the Now

So much is written and talked about regarding living in the present moment…the ‘now’. I wonder, is this truly possible? Doesn’t the present moment move too fast for any of us to capture or contemplate?

I believe I get the idea folks are hinting at. It’s an idea where your attention is, as much as any of us are capable of, localized in the present moment you are living. It’s a way of releasing all our other thoughts, the ones that drag us back into the past or shove us forward into the future.

Living in the ‘now’ is thought to allow us to be mindful and conscious of our current existence, so that we don’t miss anything. And so that we find value and pleasure in each moment, not mourning its passing nor avoiding the next moment to come.

I recognize that, whether conscious of it or not, we are always living from one moment to the next. It doesn’t matter what your mind or your heart is doing, the flow of time continues to move.

I may be missing some very important distinction or point about all of this and perhaps what I have to say won’t hit your target, but I have a different view I’d like to share. It’s a case for not living in the ‘now’, at least not as described above.

In part, as with almost any idea, there is an underlying expectation about living in the ‘now’. There is a perceived right way and a wrong way to do it.

I find that whenever the paradigm of right and wrong exists, there can be judgment, scolding and shame involved. Whether these are turned inward or received from outside matters not. Their poison is as strong, regardless of its direction.

Have you felt this?

Maybe it hasn’t happened to you in connection with this particular concept, but has it happened with other ideas?

Although it’s unfortunate, I believe we all have experienced this. So, I’d like to remind you that you needn’t ever accept your own or someone else’s judgment, scolding or shame. None of these belong to you.

If you initially allow them in, please feel free to release them. They are only meant to tear you down, never to build you up. That’s one of the easiest ways to spot them. If they come at you and hurt you, let them go.

If living in the ‘now’ feels like spiritual dogma to you, by all means, let it pass you by.

If you’ve tried to be present, staying in the chronological ‘now’ and failed. Let it go. If your failure seeps into you and separates you from happiness and joy, give your ‘failure’ away.

If you feel that you can’t hold a present moment in your grasp or that meeting this expectation overwhelms you. Release it and let it go.

If you feel your inner wellness is becoming conditional on your success at remaining in the ‘now’, do yourself a favor and abandon this quest.

Value is shared and available no matter where you are or what direction you choose, past, present, or future. Sweetness and brilliance exist everywhere. No one moment is more meaningful than another.

I don’t believe it matters what moment you live in, as long as it means something to you. There are beautiful memories from the past to keep, to hold on to and to cherish.

There are wonderful dreams you may have for the future, ones that need cultivating in the present moment in order to blossom and bear fruit.

You have perfect free will, so whatever moment calls to you, choose it and live well.

Finding Things We Hide from Ourselves

Can we find what we can not see? And a deeper question, can we find what we will not see? By ‘will not see’, I mean what we won’t permit ourselves to acknowledge. We know something is there, but we willfully avoid looking at it.

It feels too threatening to us, so we shift our focus. After all, there are so many things that beg for our time and attention and it’s easy to tell ourselves we’ll get back to it when we have more time.

This happens to me quite frequently. It’s as if the hidden things want to see the light. They are insistent and return over and over until they wear me down and I feel forced to pay them heed.

One of my recurring themes is the idea of meeting others’ expectations of me. I need to be a bit more precise here. It’s not just about meeting others’ expectations of me; it goes further than that. It’s about meeting my ‘perception’ of others’ expectations.

This added challenge increases the difficulty for me, because I don’t really know what anyone else expects from me. I believe this is true, even if they tell me what they want, because they may not really know. The answer(s) may lie hidden and difficult to find.

It’s easy to see how unlikely it is for me to unravel this.

When I add my tendency to doubt myself, thinking I do not have the power or control to provide what they want, or my perception of what they want, it becomes harder still.

I also must confess that I take it one step further. I have another tendency, which is to overachieve. I not only want to meet my own and others’ expectations, but I also want to exceed them. This creates even more internal pressure. Far beyond what is reasonable or helpful. And it ultimately makes it more difficult to find the hidden meanings I’m searching for.

When I experience moments of clarity, I realize that overachieving is an attempt on my part to maintain or improve a vision of myself, whether necessary or not. It feels like I’m trying to prove my worth and that I am enough.

Before I began writing these posts, I decided that I would reveal what felt true for me, regardless of how it made me appear to whoever chose to read me. Honesty, within me and as expressed to you, is important to me. I want to be open, and I encourage you to do the same thing with yourself, in the hope that we can find some answers together.

So, the question that surfaces is, what to do next? Is there a remedy for uncovering what lies hidden from view within us?

I offer you this for your consideration.

Set aside your fear of the unknown. There is nothing inside you that is there to harm you. In fact, all hidden things are there to create light for your path forward.

Embrace a sense of trust, that you have an innate goodness. A goodness that can be directed first, toward yourself and second, toward others.

Ask for guidance from whoever or whatever you regard as sacred and divine. Ask for clarity and confidence in finding the hidden things. Ask for their meaning and purpose to be shown to you.

Open your heart and allow yourself freedom to choose to see what wants to be seen.

Release any need to control the outcome. Simply give yourself space for the worth of the hidden things to materialize in your life.

And, as much as is possible, believe that all your hidden things are there to serve you.

When they come, welcome them, and accept what they have to offer.

The Anatomy of Success

What was the first thing that came to your mind when you read this post title? Did you actively wonder whether you are a success in the world? Perhaps you began at once to measure and compare yourself to others who you believe are successful.

It can be quite a losing game, if you are not careful.

Maybe it would be good to back-up a bit. After all, what really is success? Do we get to choose our own definition, or do we feel obligated to use those others have created?

I’ve struggled with this concept during my life.

In my early years the expectations which defined success seemed to be easy to grasp. During my school years, it was primarily my test scores and grades and where I stacked up to the others in my classes. Sure, there were other measures, like how skilled you were in sports or music or extracurricular activities.

As time went on there was more friction involved and success became more difficult to achieve. Folks wanted to know what college you got into, what your major was, what your job prospects were, did you have a girlfriend, was it serious?

The focus seemed to be on bigger and better regardless of whether you could classify your actual anticipated outcomes.

That’s part of the problem with success. It slips away as soon as you start to accomplish it. It moves a little further from your grasp and keeps you reaching.

You think to yourself, I’m almost there and then another step appears, another task to check off.

If you are fortunate enough, you move into the business world and search for a job you hope will offer you a decent income, growth potential and a good retirement. You might get married and have children, a house, a car and go on nice vacations.

For some, these are the measures of success that matter most, and by and large, they are the ones society treats with respect.

I wanted all of these, and I am fortunate because they all came into my life. I am deeply grateful for this, for each one of these.

But do they define my success in the world? Can they? Am I not more than these?

What about our other dreams? The ones that live deep inside of us? The ones no one else can see? What about the success of these?

I care about these too.

Do you have some dreams that you want to live outside of yourself? Dreams that you want to shine?

If you do, I encourage you to breathe life into them. I also encourage you to relax all of your ideas about success.

Maybe, if you need to, write down what success would look like if you accomplished them, but then purposely set the list aside. Put it in a safe place and forget about it.

You see, dreams are different. They came with you when you arrived here on earth. They live in you but want to live outside of you. That is their great measure of success. They blossom and bear fruit and share themselves with others, perhaps far beyond your wildest imagination.

This post comes from inside of me in some previously hidden place that I wasn’t aware of until right now. It’s the same place my first book came from when it was born.

I’ve come to realize that I am a channel, a way for my inner dreams to reach the outside world. And I’ve come to realize that I profit by shifting my definition and measures of success. I try to release what the world believes and embrace what feels true to me.

When my dreams take flight, I soar with them, and they are my best version of success.

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Reframing Your Life

Here is a question for you. What if there is only love and fear and nothing else? What if you decided to dive headlong into this question, would you discover that the greater truth is that there is only love?

Maybe you need a moment to think about it. Maybe the presence of fear is so strong that the answer is obvious, that of course there is fear, and so much more. Perhaps you are in the middle of a place of strife, whether that’s inside or outside of you.

It’s possible that fear is the only thing that seems real in this moment. I hope that is not the case for you, but if it is, I hope I have something to say worth your considering.

Recently fear had crept inside of me and was burrowing around, looking for a home. I felt it in the tightness of my chest, and it would not move.

I called out to Lia (one of the names I have for god) and asked for some guidance.

She came and rested inside of me and told me that both love and fear lead in the same direction. She said that love leads directly, while fears takes an indirect path.

I asked what else she could tell me about the path of fear. I wanted the heaviness in my chest to go away. I was worried that things would not turn out the way I wanted them to. I dislike this feeling and wondered how it could be released.

Lia said to me, “Part of the answer lies in trusting. Trusting that ALL paths lead to me. Right now, your sense of discomfort is because you doubt this outcome. You believe that your fears are going to take you down some other path and that you will become lost. You believe your fears will lead you into a world of suffering, pain and sorrow and you want to avoid this.”

She continued, “The truth for you in this moment is that fear feels unavoidable, but you can reframe your life.”

Lia asked me to imagine an ugly frame with a beautiful picture inside. She asked me to imagine that the beautiful picture is not only my life, but the picture of love. The ugly frame surrounding it is fear because that is how I see certain aspects of my life. She told me that the truth is that I can transform fear into love and that the deeper truth is that even fear is beautiful.

I confessed to being mystified.

Lia said, “Part of the truth lies in the mission of fear, its purpose.”

She went on to clarify, “It exists to aid you in your life. It directs you and points the way toward love, as a sure guidepost.”

I wanted to know so much more.

Lia told me that we had taken the first step, which was my willingness to ask and to listen. I’d opened myself up.

I wanted more peace than that and to release the lingering heaviness in my chest.

Lia encouraged me to sit back, close my eyes and to force a few quick breaths from my lungs, then rest.

I did as she requested and there was peace and a new freedom of breathing. And it gave me a chance to consider her words to me.

Am I capable of trusting that any fear that comes to visit me is here to serve me as a guidepost and help direct me back to love? Can I reframe my world, releasing fear and embracing love?

These are important questions to me and they have the ability to shape my whole world. It is up to me where I place my trust and what path I choose to travel. I want the path of love.

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Standing Out

Do you know anyone who stands out from the crowd? Are you someone who does? If not, do you want to?

It’s funny to me that many folks I know, myself included, want it both ways. We want to stand out and be recognized for being who we are and to have our talents and skills applauded. But then at other times, we want to shrink into the background as far away from the light as possible.

What makes the difference?

How can it be that one experience draws up into the sunshine while another makes us fade into the darkness?

For those of you who don’t see the picture at the top of this post, it’s a stream bed filled with rounded rocks and one gorgeous red leaf in the middle. It’s such an interesting contrast. The muted tones of the smooth rocks against the rich brilliance of autumn color.

The red leaf stands out in sensational glory. My eyes center on it and it pulls me toward its rich redness.

A curious thought runs through my head. Would I notice this amazing leaf if it was among a mass of other red leaves, or would its individual splendor be lost? Perhaps the answer is obvious. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it. It wouldn’t have stood out.

The same is no doubt true about the rocks. Would I have noticed one individual rock among all of the others, if they all looked essentially the same?

So, does this mean that in order to stand out, you have to be different from what’s in the background?

I hope not. I hope that we can each see ourselves as the red leaf. Brilliant, special, unique. I hope that we can see past any limits we or others set in our way.

I wonder, can I? Can you? What would it take for us to answer yes to this question?

Sometimes it’s easy because we all do some things very well. They’re obvious to us and to others. It feels good and we shine.

But, what about the other times? The ones where we fail to meet our own expectations or those of others? The times when we want to vanish from sight?

I want to propose an idea to you.

What if you came to realize that within you there is a hidden greatness? One that could accept any experience previously considered a failure. A greatness that allows you to shift your perspective, turning any perceived failure into a wonderful learning step along your way.

What if this inner magnificence called to you by name and asked you to trust in your divinity? Imagine releasing any doubts and preconceived notions you have about yourself. Imagine knowing you came here already unique, special, and brilliant. And now that you are here, you can spread your wings and fly.

I am telling you the truth as I know it. As always, it’s up to you to decide.

There’s one more thing I want to say.

A dear friend of mine and I had many conversations and always returned to the same singular question she wanted answered.

She wanted to know how I could see inside her or someone else. She wanted to know how I could see past all the ‘stuff’ on the outside, to the inner goodness.

I told her that when I look at someone through my heart, what I see is beautiful golden sparkling glitter floating around them. I pause for a moment, then gently blow it away and see their magnificent heart. Each one beautiful, flawless.

Each of you are beautiful. You each stand out in your own way. I hope you know this.

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Open Doors

Have you ever had a door closed in your face? Whether intentional or not, some emotional pain might be involved.

It might hurt.

Maybe the person didn’t mean to and maybe they did. Either way you have to decide what to do with it. Of course, you could immediately let it go. That would certainly be wise.

You could rationalize it, noting that the person was probably in a hurry at the time or didn’t see you approaching the door. You could give them a pass.

You could tell yourself that it was just a mistake on their part, and everyone makes mistakes, realizing this includes you.

There are other options.

You could get angry and think the person was thoughtless or mean. That they did it on purpose, intending to hurt or annoy you. I’m not sure where the profit in this is though, especially if you carry it with you throughout the rest of your day.

You could use it as an opportunity to exercise patience, compassion, and love. Not only for the person who didn’t hold the door open for you but for yourself. If the door closing sparked an emotional reaction in you, you can choose to immediately forgive the person. And the forgiveness you extend can be all inclusive, so their reason doesn’t matter, whether it was intentional or not.

The beauty of this kind of forgiveness is that it includes YOU. There is no requirement to hold on to any anger or slight you may feel. You simply open your heart and release, moving on with the rest of your day.

Perhaps you’re wondering why the title of this post is, Open Doors, when all I’ve talked about is a Closed Door.

Well, instead of having a door closed on you, have you had doors opened for you? Often kind-hearted people hold a door open for me and I return the gesture. It was part of my cultural training. It was considered a nice thing to do.

In the early part of my life, when I opened a door for someone, I had an expectation that they would say, thank you. That probably only happened about half of the time. I wondered, was this civility not a part of others training?

I had several decisions to make.

The first was whether I would allow the response to dictate my future actions. Would I stop opening doors because I didn’t receive a thank you? The second was a question I had to ask myself. Why was I opening the door for someone?

It seems like such a simple thing. Why should this create a thought-provoking question for me?

Over the course of time, I came to a conclusion. I open the door because I want to, not because I was told it was the right thing to do or so that I will be thanked. I do it because to me it feels like a nice thing to do. Period.

Removing the emotional baggage and releasing the conventional expectations I’d been taught, freed me. In the freedom, I am able to decide what I want. That’s an important place to spend some time.

Here’s another question. When a door opens in your life, let’s call it an opportunity, do you back away, afraid of what might happen?

Or do you take a tentative step forward, hesitant, but curious?

Or maybe you take several bold steps forward, excited by a new prospect.

Open doors are wonderful things. They invite us to take chances and explore. They offer us excitement and challenges. They create pathways for new adventures.

I’m trying to pass by all the closed doors now and walk through all the open doors, knowing they are the way forward. I hope you’ll join me in walking through yours.

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Intuitive Nudges

When you don’t know the right direction in life to take, what do you do? Do you seek someone else’s advice or try to brainstorm all the ideas you can think of and then choose what you believe is the best answer? Or because of some uncertainty, do you just choose whatever comes to your mind first and hope things turn out okay?

It can often feel challenging and somewhat overwhelming, especially if you haven’t resolved the first question or situation before the next one pops up.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if we’d come here with our very own owner’s manual? A guidebook that laid out the best answers to all our questions or some neat flow chart we could follow to get where we want to go.

Here’s an idea to consider.

I believe we do have something we can always rely on to provide direction and insight. You may have already guessed it. It’s our intuition.

One of the difficult things about the intuitive process is our general lack of awareness about its existence and how to use it. Of course, there are numerous references to it culturally. One of these is ESP, or Extra Sensory Perception, which is our ability to know things without having any idea how or why we know them.

This disconnection creates a sense of disbelief. We don’t recognize the thread; therefore, we tend to downplay or ignore its importance. And, without a direct relevant connection, we are unlikely to trust our intuition, especially if the situation we’re faced with is very important to us.

I wonder, would it be possible for us to stop and take a closer look? What would happen if we paid very close attention to all the inner messages we receive? What might change in our lives?

I’d like to suggest an opportunity.

How about the next time you don’t have an immediate, well thought out answer for something that comes up in your life, you pause and sit back for a minute. You close your eyes and slow your breathing and allow your mind to calm down. And you ask for an answer to form in your mind. You allow yourself to be nudged into seeing and feeling what your inner guidance has to say.

There is enormous wisdom inside of you just waiting to come to the surface. It has always been present and will always be available to you.

One of the prerequisites though, is a level of trust. Will that be possible for you?

You might be asking, trust in who, or trust in what?

My answer, after many years of making my way through this amazing process is, trust in YOU. Some folks decide to place their trust in the universe or the divine or substitute other names. In essence, I believe it’s all the same, because you are part of the universe and part of the divine.

So, let’s say you are willing to give this a chance and have allowed yourself to be in a quiet space and opened yourself up to listen carefully to whatever comes your way in the silence. For this one time at least, say to yourself that you are going to trust what comes to you and take action according to what you hear and feel. Give in and accept it as your inner wisdom passing along a divine message to you.

You may want to write some of this down and note what happens, to give yourself some convincing evidence, so that next time it’s easier. Or you may just want to go with the flow and let things unfold whatever direction they do.

Either way, I hope that you begin to see that you are a deep well of knowing and that your inner wisdom is always present in your life.

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When Things Break

I suppose it is inevitable that all things will break, but when many of them happen at once, I begin to wonder, is there a message for me?

Recently, I’ve experienced a sequence of events that has both surprised and upset me. First, it was my car. It needed over a thousand dollars’ worth of repairs. I guess I ought to be prepared for this, since it’s almost ten years old, but once I got it home, it made a new noise and had to go back for more repairs.

Then it was our new storm door. The mechanism that allows it to stay closed malfunctioned. It took several weeks before it was fixed. And, then our new computer lost its mind requiring all sorts of adjustments before it would work again.

I thought we were done. You know the common thought about things coming in threes. But not so. Yesterday morning I woke up to a very cold house. I hadn’t switched over from summer to winter, so I moved the thermostat button to the ‘heat’ cycle. Nothing happened. No beautiful furnace sound delivering warmth to our house. I investigated, only to find a blank digital computer screen on the unit. It had power, but wouldn’t and didn’t do anything.

After numerous calls, we finally managed to get a technician to come. He diagnosed the problem and relayed the remedy to us. We needed parts. He told us they would be ordered on Monday, three days from now. Then they would have to schedule an appointment to complete the repairs. Translation- no heat for several days.

Many thoughts ran through my head. And many feelings ran through my body. On one level, I find this string of events to be very frustrating, and certainly inconvenient and expensive. But I’m curious too.

Do they mean something more than what they are, a collection of occurrences that could be random? Is there some inherent value in them for me? Is it worth my digging into their depths to see?

I wonder first about what feelings they bring up in me. So, I allow myself to open and accept whatever comes to me. I’ve discovered that when I do this, I am able to release whatever I no longer want to keep inside. But, I have to see it first though. And I have to realize that even though it is difficult to be honest with myself, it is always worth it.

So here goes. I wonder why this is happening TO me. It doesn’t seem fair at all. I wonder, did I do something to deserve these things? It occurs to me there may be more events to come. Because there are four, will I have to experience two more to end the second string of three things.

I note my level of anger and frustration and it becomes obvious to me that I am looking at this from only one direction. I could just as easily ask myself a series of other questions.

I have beautiful, wonderful things in my life. I have a car, a door, a computer, a house and so much more. So many in this world have none of these things and may never have them. They don’t have enough food, clean water, fresh air, shelter of any kind, people who will help them, a place to call home, a family.

My questions and concerns shift abruptly. I begin to express my gratitude for what I have and release those feelings and thoughts about what I don’t. My heart opens wide and breaks for all those in the world who have so little. For them abundance means a bite of food, a sip of water, a tarp to sleep under, a kind word from someone, from anyone.

I live in such privilege. I have so much and yet am concerned and afraid when some of it fails to work. I see that much more clearly now. Beyond shifting my attitude about this, I wonder what else can I do?

I know I can’t fix the whole world, but I don’t want that to stop me from trying to fix what I can. So now, each time my focus is drawn to something that doesn’t work in my life, I’m going to shift my attention and decide what I can do to help others. I know there are an infinite number of things that can be done. So I’m going to let my gratitude lead the way.

New Growth

There comes a point when I realize I need to let go of something in order experience new growth. Although this can be very difficult, I know it’s what I want and need. The hard part is deciding what to surrender in order to find a way forward.

In our upstairs bathroom I have an ivy plant. It’s really the first plant I’ve ever personally taken care of. It’s a job I take seriously. My ivy and I have a routine, a little ritual ceremony. Every Sunday, I pour a small cup of water on the dirt that surrounds the plants stems. After this I place my hands under the flowing water from the tap and then allow the excess water to drip from my fingers onto each ivy leaf. As I do this, I offer it wishes for good health. Then I close my eyes and let my hands hover just above the ivy’s outstretched leaves and send it loving energy.

Once in a while, when I open my eyes, I notice the leaves quivering a bit. I like to see this. It feels like a response. A connection between us. It’s beautiful and I feel closer to my ivy.

It seemed to thrive, sending up new shoots at the base and new leaves on the older stems. When the new leaves sprout, they are such a gorgeous shade of green, far different than the mature leaves. They are tiny at first, but then spread out and grow, unfurling and swelling in size.

We’ve been together now for many years and recently it needed a new container. It had outgrown the original smaller one and wanted more room to spread out. So, my wife repotted it, she being better at plant things than I am.

Everything went well and my ivy continued to flourish. That is, until we went on an eight-day vacation. I thought to myself, it should be okay, after all it’s only one more day than usual.

I watered it before we left and gave it a tiny bit extra.

We returned home and I went upstairs to check on it.

Disaster.

It looked so unhappy. Many of the leaves had dried out and no matter how much extra care I gave it, the leaves didn’t come back to life. Of the five stems, three looked really bad. I wondered what I should do. I felt as though the soil could no longer support all five stems and that if I didn’t do something soon, all of them would die.

Whether it was the right or wrong thing, I decided to cut the three stems that were withering. I felt I needed their surrender so that the remaining two could thrive.

So far, it’s worked. The two stems now have some healthy new beautiful green leaves forming. I am so happy to see them and welcome them into our world with love.

I wonder what would have happened if I couldn’t allow myself to surrender the dying stems. I think the whole plant would have died.

After some reflection, it became clear to me that this same process exists inside of me. What am I holding onto that is withering my spirit? What do I need to let go of or release?

It’s kind of hard to know the answer to this. I can’t just look at my outside world and see, like I can with the plant leaves.

It’s trickier than that and I wonder what gauge I can use to measure with.

So, instead of looking outside, I glance inward. I move beyond appearances and my thinking mind, to a place where my feelings reign. When I arrive, I ask one simple question, ‘how do I feel?’

I realize this sounds pretty general, but it’s not. If I am quiet, answers float to the surface. All of the things that concern me bob up and down waiting to be noticed. I come to understand that this is a process that is aided by my patience. I am helped by the inner knowing that all will be revealed, if I slow down and wait.

And there they are, lined up together, waving at me. My feelings of desire for control, the weighty sense of having to please other people and the chains that cling to my internal measures of success.

I see them as clearly as a dying leaf on my beautiful ivy plant. And I know my best answer is to surrender them. Releasing them gives me my best chance to thrive. I want that. I want that for me, and I want that for you, if that’s what you decide.

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