Catching the Moment–Gratitude Day 24

I am grateful to have boys who remind me to catch the moment and be in the present. Stephen continually reminds me to pay attention to what he is saying or what we are doing instead of trying to take photos or write down daily details. I can’t seem to help it. I have always been that way. In a way it’s a good thing. If your kids grew up with mine, there’s a great chance I have some awesome photos of your child.

It can be bad, because Stephen hates getting his photo taken. I may be at fault for that! I love capturing those moments, but it’s true they are never quite as pure or true as when they are happening. And when they are happening, my face is behind the camera. I miss the good stuff.

Take today. During a break in the rain, I took Zoey and Dakota out for a walk. I left my phone in the house (I know it’s a shocker!) and we strolled down the road. I was immediately in awe of the clouds. Some were laced along the sky while others were floating by like shreds of cotton balls. Flurries of birds flipped through the air. There were so many and they flew so erratically, they looked like black leaves just released from the trees.

And fall trees. They are my favorite. Deep red scarlet, burnt orange, buttery yellow, golden brown, bronze, and green hues. The brilliance reminds me of the beauty this world can hold. I was surrounded by it and knew it mattered. That moment, not the photo that I could have taken, but being in it right at that time and place.

You’ll notice there isn’t a photo for this post. It’s in my heart and my mind. I hope you take a moment to enjoy where you are right now.

By the way, in my dream the other night, Nick told me to put down my camera and take in the whole picture. Messages are all around and for that I am especially thankful.

Sometimes We Need a Guide

Stephen with Poppa and Nick at birth2
My Dad and my sons, Nick (age 2) and Stephen (just born)

I dreamt of my immediate and extended family last night. We were all together under one massive roof, playing cards, going through boxes, swimming outside, and preparing food. My cousin, Christine, popped in all dressed and ready to go shopping with her hair piled high on her head, her eyes sparkling with green eyeshadow. She told me that everything will be OK and smiled her radiant grin.

Many times my dreams are my guide, but sometimes our guides are those right around us in waking life. They are a mirror that truly reflects what we have in us, but are afraid to reveal.

When a person is going through an illness, loss, or some type of adversity, we notice how strong they are or are amazed by their positive attitude. We see in them what we wish we had in ourselves.

Their bravery peels away a layer of self-doubt in us, and we wonder what would happen if we were that brave and removed all the layers. It’s as if that person is giving us permission to be our true self.

Often if we have never been in this kind of situation, we look around us for examples to emulate. When my son, Nick, became ill at 12 years old, he didn’t have a guide. He was innately brave, strong, and compassionate. He behaved very much like his Poppa who battled cancer two times, then passed away after his third battle, when Nick was two.

Nick became my guide on how I wanted to live my life, although living without him is extremely hard. He did teach me, however, that I don’t have to be strong all the time, and it’s important to let others know that and allow help. But he also taught me how to give back, to have compassion, to lead the way through devastation to a road where anything is possible.

Nick’s most powerful lesson was to be myself no matter what the world thought of me. He already knew what I have been trying to learn my entire life.

Live authentically and you are your own guide.

Be enthusiastic about what or who you love, and you will receive love back. 

Never give up, but live on your own terms, your own path. 

Know that as much as you learn from other’s guidance, you know the way. It’s already in you, and eventually you will be true to yourself.

Who are your guides and what are they showing you about yourself and about your path? How can you turn your awareness inward to find what you need to live authentically through your own guidance?

Creating a Healing Place

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Envisioning and Defining your Healing Place

When we envision a healing space, we are building a warm, safe and comforting environment for healing and connections. Close your eyes and think of a place that you hold dear–this can be a place where you and your loved ones have physically visited, it can be your childhood home, a vacation home, a room in your house, a tree, a favorite place in the woods or on the water. It can be a photo that evokes these wonderful feelings. It’s anywhere you feel peace.

What do you see? What sounds surround you? What do you smell? Is there a special scent that brings you a sense of fulfillment? What do you physically touch–sand on the beach, the rough texture of bark on a tree, pine needles or grass? Is there a taste, a special food that you always have in this place, salt on the air or in the water?

Open your eyes and write all the details of this place using all your senses. How do you feel when you are there? Who is welcome to visit? Who do you want to visit? This is your place of healing. A place where your soul remembers its purpose and reenergizes.

If you are having a hard time finding this place, write it in your journal as an intention before you go to bed and record your dreams.

After you have envisioned or imagined this special healing place, you can:

Find a photo of this place, put it in a frame, and keep it by your bed.

Write it out as a story.

Write a poem.

 

Holding Happiness/Facing Fears

Knowing what makes you happy is the foundation of your emotional health. Bringing joy into your life is the shelter that protects you from the storms. It gives you the strength to rise up when difficulties in life and your fears pull you down.

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So many times we try to hide our fears through excuses or the masks we wear. We pretend we are stronger than we may be or that nothing fazes us. Wearing those masks and that armor literally wears us down until we don’t know who we are. Facing your fear and the darkness actually keeps you on the positive path to joy. What would happen if you changed your perspective and looked at fear as something that challenged?. Perhaps your fear is actually your soul saying, “Hey, you need to try this, because then you will grow.”

What are your fears? If you could talk to your fear, what would you say or ask? Do you fear revealing who you truly are, going back to school, getting out of a relationship, moving away from home, trying something new? When your fear shows its horrid face, it’s begging you to listen to it. It’s like having a nightmare. That’s the only way for your subconscious to get your attention when you still aren’t listening.

I fear that I’m not enough, that I won’t be able to help others when they need it most. I’m afraid to let my inner light shine, because I may fail.

It feels yucky. My stomach gets upset, my chest tightens, my voice shrinks, and I’m that little girl who was told that my dreams were just meaningless dreams.

To get rid of that feeling I need to go through it. Pain brings us to joy, because we know what the bad feels like. We grow gratitude by knowing how life can be. So when we face what we fear and do it anyway, we feel the lightness and joy of a great burden being lifted from our shoulders. We are empowered to face the next fear. We know we are back on track.

When I fight through the grip of my fears, I find myself:

Teaching writing workshops, because I have something to offer.

Helping children and their families during a tragic time, because with my compassion and empathy I can support them through their pain.

Writing my truth, because it heals me and gives hope to those who are having a hard time grasping their own.

When I face my fears, I know that:

IAMENOUGH

Wake up your Soul

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Even as a baby, Moana knew her path.

Last night I forced my husband to watch the Disney movie, Moana, with me. I watched a professional soccer game with him after, but I think I probably had the better deal as I enjoyed both very much! Moana is about a young woman whose duty is to lead her people on an island that they can never leave. Even as her feet have led her toward the water as a baby, her father has gently steered her back to what he deems the ‘safe’ path. But she is continually drawn the sea, and in truth the sea has chosen her for a different, grander destiny. Even as a toddler, she knows this.

Moana fights the harder path until her grandmother dies and the island is unable to produce food. Sometimes it takes tragedy or extreme circumstances to wake us up to our soul’s purpose. But it’s also Moana’s gut feeling that there is more for her to do. She is confused and pulled in different directions.

moana on island disney

Using our intuition or that gut feeling to help us track the right path is a skill that has been diminished in our modern time. It’s easier to follow the path of least resistance, because it is comfortable. Moana could have accepted her position, but eventually her people would have run out of food and her soul, that calling, would have died. They all would have. So she is forced to fulfill her soul’s true purpose. By doing this she also helps Maui find his and saves her people and her island. Further, she blossoms into who she truly is meant to be.

Other people, our fears, doubts, and our blocks prevent us from fulling connecting to our purpose. If we remove that block and carry it beside us if we aren’t ready to let it go, at least we can see where we are heading. Sometimes identifying those blocks can be the hardest part.

Not everyone is meant to save the world or make colossal change. But when we don’t follow our path, fulfill those dreams that call to us every night, a little less light is shone on the world. We need everyone’s light, whether it’s to hold someone’s hand when they are afraid or someone to do the surgery on that hand.

Through tragedy, I was pushed to form a foundation. I could have let the opportunity go, but when I have seen what has come of it, I know it was the right path. Sometimes I am pulled toward two different paths. Where the foundation that helps children battle cancer is my mission, writing novels for all ages is my passion. It’s like a life pulse that increases as I do it. It’s like getting goose bumps or that bubbly feeling in your stomach that reminds you how alive you can feel.

disney-moana-maui
Moana basking in her light.

Both my mission and my passion bring hope and compassion to others, empathy and love. Writing and connecting with those in pain is my Moana.

What drives you, makes your pulse quicken, gives you goose bumps, and that feeling of bubbling happiness? What is your purpose, your calling? Where does your light shine? If you don’t know, then how do you want your light to shine? What blocks are stopping you?

Life is too short to stay rooted on your path or venture aimlessly down the one that doesn’t serve you. One step at a time you will find your light.

Power of Love

huey
Back stage meeting Huey Lewis in 1988. Doesn’t he looked thrilled?!

Since this week will be a huge focus on dreams and using them as guidance in my adult journaling workshop, I had to record and analyze my dream about Huey Lewis.

Title: Power of Love:

I’m walking by myself at night in a city. My cell phone battery keeps popping out. It looks more like an SD card, and I’m nervous that my phone will die and no one will know where I am. I go into a building and there is Huey Lewis, the lead singer of Huey Lewis and the News, a popular group back in the 80’s. I don’t freak out this time, not like the first time I saw him in concert. I walk up to the table. He is by himself and chilling before the concert.

I tell him about my phone, and he fixes it. Then we talk, and I ask him if he is writing any new music. He is, but doesn’t share. We make some more small talk, and then he asks if I’d like to go on stage and dance with him during his concert. Hell Yeah! I say, and he leaves to set it up.

While I’m having this wonderful conversation with my pal, Huey, one of his songs The Power of Love is playing in my head or from speakers, I’m not really sure. But I wake up to this song, and although the words are corny, they speak truth. You don’t need money, you don’t need fame, but the power of love ‘might just save your life.’

So I went through my lightning dream process:

Feeling: excited, safe, happy.

Reality: I have seen Huey Lewis twice in concert in college and met him. My phone is always to my ear and not having it as a source of communication, especially when I’m alone in a city is worrisome.

Future possibility: I could be somewhere and have a problem with my phone. Am I planning on going to a concert? Not until October, but will be in New Jersey with my girlfriends. I will make sure my phone is charged. maybe I’ll meet Bruno Mars!

? What do I want to know about this dream? What message is Huey trying to tell me?

If I was telling someone this dream, I would invite them to give me their thoughts from their point of view “If it were my dream, I think…”

I connect with the song, because more than anything love and hope are what have always gotten me through my hardest moments, and the love shown to me and the love I have for others has probably saved my life.

In yoga this morning, Jess had us lift our chins to the ceiling during proud pigeon pose to really open up our chest and throat. She literally said if you have something to say, then opening up in the pose will help you say it. I think my phone not working resonated with me not showing my love to certain people. I need to express my love more and bask in that power of love.

Action: Make sure my phone and my voice stays charged. Let people, especially my family and close friends know how much they mean to me. Also I will communicate when something is bothering me, because holding in fear, anger, or worry disrupts that power of love.

Catchphrase: Show my Love

Sometimes dreams are just a reminder on what you need to be doing or who needs some extra TLC.

What dreams did you have last night? Write them down and go through this process. See what comes up for you. Feel free to share with me in comments if you’d like another point of view!

Step Back Saturday–House of Truth

Last night I had a dream in my childhood home in Greenville. This dream made me think about the Greenville House, and how patterns and themes are developed from our dreams if we pay attention and record the details.

I have dreamt of the Greenville House many times. The first was when I was about 8 or 9 and living there. I dreamt that skeletons walked the house, and I was the only one living there. This was one of my strongest and reoccurring nightmares, and after my father died, the house did feel empty.

I often dreamt of my dad after he passed. My dad died when Stephen was two months old and Nick was two years old. When Nick was ill at age 12, I dreamt of my dad holding him in the living room of the Greenville House. I thought it meant Nick would be healed, but really my dad was bringing him home.

I met many people living and those who passed on in this house. It became a place where the truth, no matter how hard, was shown. I named it the Greenville House of Truth. What was dreamt there synchronized with my life or prepared me for what was to come.

I would never have noticed these patterns if I hadn’t tracked or titled my dreams and followed the Dream Lightning process that Robert Moss developed. Why is this important? Because when I dream about the Greenville House, it’s like a telegram or a FedEx envelope being delivered overnight. It’s urgent, and I need to take action now.

When my dad is in the house, I’m on high alert. I’m not sure what my dream from last night meant, but at least I’m paying attention and am open to the messages.

First and foremost, keep your journal by your bed and record your dreams as if you are describing a movie in the present tense. Title each dream. If you notice that many of your dreams are in a certain setting, then make a subtitle. For example, I’ll title a dream, Tsunami: Greenville House of Truth. This creates a pattern that I pay more attention to. Do you recognize this reoccurring setting? Is it in this reality or only in your dreamworld? Does it vary? Who shows up there?

Journal about the patterns and themes and what this place means to you as the places and people in our dreams can guide us in our everyday lives.

Journaling Chaos

journalingchaos

I’m in the Jo Piracci board room at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. I haven’t set up yet for my workshop that starts shortly. People begin coming in. Soon the table is full. There isn’t any room for my computer. I set it up on a different table and can move the cord for the projector. Soon there are more people than chairs. I ask everyone to sit down. There are a few people with their middle grade kids. This is an adult class, so not sure what to do.

I see Rose come in who came to last class. I don’t see Karen yet and hope she makes it. The security guard comes in and wants to know why so many people are coming to a journaling class.

Because it works, I tell him!

I forgot to make copies so leave the chaos, but realize I need color copies and wanted to update the page with photo prompt and photo collage.

A man and woman are in a corner on a couch reading. I ask if they are here for the workshop. No. They just want to read and maybe listen. I leave them alone.

Feeling: frazzled, but happy my class is full.

Reality: My workshop begins tonight. Rose was on the waiting list and I slipped her in even though class is full. Usually one or two people can’t make every class. Karen is also coming, so that is exciting.

? What do I need for a successful session?

Action Plan: Redo types of journaling sheet and print at home in color. Print my notes. Get there early to set up. Don’t forget my cord for my computer! Have fun!

Catch Phrase: Journaling is creative chaos

Five Ways to Settle into Sleep

crescent moon

Sleep. We all need it. Most get cranky without it, and our physical and mental health may very well depend upon it. In the February 27/March 6, 2017 issue of Time Magazine, Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley states that, “Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body for health.” (72)

When sleep is a topic of discussion, it always seems like someone can either plop their head on their pillow and be out for the night or will toss and turn most of the night and never feel like they are rested. There are the in betweens too: those who fall asleep right away, but wake up often or those who sleep, but don’t really get rest.

i_love_sleep

I love going to sleep and I’m one of those who can fall asleep pretty quickly. I know, you can hate me all you want, but sleep hasn’t always come easily. I look forward to my rest, my dreams, and my body needs at least 7-8 hours of it nightly. When I don’t get that sleep, I am one cranky lady. So I make sure I do what I need to get that rest.

Here are some ideas:

Put away the technology: Robert Stickgold, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School states in the same article that, “The biggest thing I do to improve my sleep is to pull the plug. It’s not easy. I made the decision that my sleep comes before catching up on my life. So when it’s 11 p.m., I turn off my email, phone and computer. Warm baths and warm milk also help.” (73)

A major decision that I mainly made, but my husband respected, was not putting a television in our bedroom. I never wanted to use TV to help me fall asleep. There is an iPad that someone often uses to watch YouTube, which I mostly  ignore, but the use of visual technology can keep the mind active. I do keep my phone on my end table as my alarm and for emergencies if my son needs me. It is on vibrate, so often I don’t hear a text, but emergencies require a phone call, and I hear that buzzing. But all other notifications are disabled. Technology can be addicting, so try weaning yourself off and see what happens.

Essential Oils Diffuser: I have started using a diffuser to help with my sinuses and overall health. Click here to read other reasons to use a diffuser.  I do have a diffuser in my bedroom and have used it a couple times. Lavender is especially helpful for sleep. It can be used in a diffuser, a tad placed under your nose or a lavender scented satchel under your pillow. I have to say the diffuser kept interrupting my sleep. It wasn’t loud, but I heard dripping and the light stays on, which even with my eyes closed bothers me. But it works for many people and is an option.

Updating to do lists: At the end of the day, I make it a point to review what was on my task list and shift anything not done to the next day or reevaluate if I even need to do it. It might be something that isn’t necessary to be done that week, so can be changed to a future date. Writing any thoughts on a project or recording creative ideas remove them from my head, so I can relax quicker.

Journal: I write about my day in the evening for a couple reasons. It’s my daily report of my personal history and my way to filter through what went well during the day and what didn’t. It’s also my method to vent about anything or anyone that bothered me during the day. What is helpful with this process is that I don’t take it to bed with me. It’s like going to bed angry at your spouse. Before Luke and I got married, Father Tom told us to never go to bed angry. We have been able to do that for the most part, and it’s great advice. Sleep is meant to be peaceful and safe. Negative emotions affect rest. So another bit of advice. Never go to bed with your mind filled with emotions and discord. Write it out.

Meditation: Calming your mind after a day filled with activity, stress, and difficult decisions can be quite a feat. The continued practice of meditation can train your mind to turn off and focus on the task at hand, falling asleep. A simple way to do this is lying on your back with your hands on your belly or chest. Close your eyes and take deep breaths in and out of your nose. As you slow your breath, do a body scan. Starting from your feet, you can flex and relax them or notice how they feel. If you have any aches or pain in that part of our body, focus your breath on it. The purpose is to get your entire body to relax. Once your scan is done, focus on your breathing and nothing else. Release any thoughts or ideas from your mind and let them go. Tomorrow is another day to deal with them. Give your body and mind permission to relax and go to sleep.

I’m not a sleep expert. I’m not a psychologist. But as my husband notes, my cure-alls are tea, Allegra, and journaling!

What kind of sleeper are you? Do you feel rested in the morning or exhausted? Do you replay the day’s events in your mind when you lay down to sleep? What are a couple changes you can make to get more rest? Take a few minutes and write about your sleep patterns and decide if journaling can help you sleep better at night.

Keeping a journal by your bed for those last minute to do items and for dream recall is also helpful. Here’s to a good night’s sleep tonight!

 

 

 

Back on Track

railway tracks

Journaling is a practice. Just like any other practice or routine, it’s easy to fall off track. It’s much harder to get back on track. This past weekend I went to see my son at college. There wasn’t a lot of downtime and so I didn’t post for three days. I didn’t even journal for myself until late Sunday night. I felt badly, but instead of making myself feel guilty and not enjoy time with my son, I let it go.

Keeping a journal shouldn’t be a chore. When we overcomplicate the process or create expectations that are impossible to fulfill, we set ourselves up for disappointment. I love journaling because I feel better during and after I write. It simplifies what my priorities are and helps me connect the dots of my chaotic life. It confirms when I’m on my path and when I have ventured off. So imagine how I feel when I have not only ventured off my path and jumped track at the same time!

If you have fallen off the journaling track or haven’t even started, here are some tips to get you moving in the right direction:

  1. Schedule journal writing into your calendar. Decide how often you want to journal: once a week, every other day, or every day. It’s a guideline, you can journal as often as you like. You can choose a particular time each day. Perhaps in the morning so you can write down your dreams or set your intention for the day. Or in the evening if you like to write about your day and what you accomplished.
  2. Write for at least 10 minutes. You are building your journaling muscle just like when you are building your exercise training or practicing a language. It takes 21 days to form a habit and the longer you do it the stronger those muscles and techniques become.
  3. Jazz up your journal. Personalize it. Make it fancy or keep it simple, but make it yours so that you are excited to open it.
  4. Get a special pen or different color pens to separate topics.
  5. Bullet ideas of what you want to journal about. If you have broader topics that you are interested in discovering more about or digging into, it’s helpful to jot them down. Sometimes we can’t think of what to write about, so have this as a backup.
    1. Reviews of books that you have read.
    2. Your journey toward running a full marathon.
    3. Goals and dreams for the coming year.
    4. Favorite family recipes.
    5. Family stories
    6. Movies you want to watch.
  6. Have fun with it! You choose to write in your journal. It’s a pathway to healing and your road to a legacy of memories.