"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posts tagged ‘dreams’

The Never Ending Story

There are some wonderful things associated with memorable moments in my life and this movie is one of them. It brings me right back to my early twenties and all that was happening in my life then with a clarity that reminds me once again what a pivotal set of moments this was in my life.

I was a 22-year-old mother of a 4-year-old child who was born with a heart defect. I was in many ways still a child myself. I was a stay-at-home mom by choice, a decision my husband and I wholeheartedly agreed on. It was easier to survive on one income then compared to how it is today yet it was still pretty darn tough. We lived in poverty, from paycheck to paycheck, here and there receiving assistance from the Women, Infants and Children program as well as a time or two where we were grateful to qualify for and receive Food Stamps. Those programs got us through some lean times for sure.

So much was going on with me. I was doing my best to do what I thought I was supposed to do. I remember asking my sister-in-law, who became a mother at an age even younger than me, “Is this it? We just pop out babies, drink coffee, clean, watch soaps?” And her reply of “Yeah, pretty much!” It was the first time I realized how much meaning was placed on the roles outside the home and so little on those inside the home.

My son, Jeffrey and I were closely bonded. We sorta grew up together those first years. We were alone together a lot and found lots of things to do to keep us occupied. We talked a lot. I always asked him “What do you think?” Or “How do you feel about it?” and would get the most interesting answers. At the age of two the answers were short and to the point as he was learning to communicate with me. As his vocabulary expanded it brought some really interesting perspectives on the many questions within life through the wisdom of a toddler.

As I can see it so clearly now with my grandchildren, babies are input machines. They soak in – eat, sleep, breathe, feel – EVERYTHING about our environment as quickly as their little brains and bodies will allow. Curious about everything and everything is input. When they have something to say and can pick the words out of those they’ve been given to communicate with, sometimes what comes out of the mouths of babes can be profound.

That summer before Jeffrey’s fourth birthday was when we watched The Never Ending Story together. It was a story about a young boy coming to terms with his death of his mother. We watched it over and over and over again. Together we followed Bastian on his journey to defeat the nothing. We were with him being chased down the street by a gang of boys, we were with him in the book store. It was as magical to both of us as it seemed to be to Bastian.

We talked about the emotions and questions the movie brought up for each of us. Artax and Atreyou in the swamp moved us to tears together. We talked about why it felt so sad. As the Nothing raced across the land spreading its fear and darkness we jumped and gasped together at the first sight of the wolf and his glowing eyes. It prompted us to talk about our fears and what we can do about them.

I do my best not to talk down to my children. I believe they arrived in my life with more wisdom than I will ever possess. I do my best to honor their intelligence and tell the truth in the best way I can. I speak in language that isn’t baby talk or dumbing it down, but is age appropriate and real. I believe there is a part of them that may not understand the intricate meanings of the words but can get the essence of them regardless.

Just after Jeffrey turned four he was scheduled for open heart surgery. It was to be the first of a two-part series of surgeries to correct his heart defect. He would then have the second part when he turned five. We arrived at the hospital prepared to stay for about a week. Although the hospital was only twenty minutes from my home I chose to sleep there in the room with my son. I didn’t have my own car to travel back and forth and even if I did, I’m not sure I could have left him there alone.

The first night was spent preparing for early surgery the next day. Papers were signed, questions were asked and answered and we were all a little on edge. After Jeffrey laid down to sleep for the night his nurse suggested I go over to the playroom where several moms who were also spending the night had gathered. I was homesick, lonely and afraid and it sounded like a great idea.

There were four or five women sitting in a circle of rocking chairs chatting when I entered the room. I made my greetings and took a chair to become part of the circle. Topics moved across the small talk spectrum for a few minutes when it got to movies. One mom asked if anyone had seen The Never Ending Story. Most replied that they had and how scary it was. I added that my son and I watch it together all the time. Suddenly I felt pounced upon. “How old is your son? Four years old and you let him watch that? That’s insane. You don’t do that to a child. It’s too scary for them.” Etcetera and on and on. I was instantly the worst mother ever born.

I left the room feeling more homesick than ever. I called my husband and cried on the phone but all I could say was how homesick I was. I had trouble communicating what had just happened in the playroom and how it made me feel. The Never Ending Story had been a beautiful bonding experience between me and my child and it was something I treasured. To have no chance to even explain that to these women and to have been so set upon with such judgmental hatred had really upset me. Five out of six women agree that you suck as a mother, Lisa. Majority rules, right? It must be true.

Thankfully, there is always a dawn after a dark night of scary storms. The morning of the surgery had arrived and we were anxious. Jeffrey was bright and happy and ready to get started so he could feel better. If he was afraid, he never showed it. We trusted and believed we would see each other in the recovery room. And we did.

For the rest of the week in the hospital I did my best to encourage and support my son in his recovery. I avoided any contact with the playroom moms. Sometimes our eyes met in the hallways or elevators but there was no more conversation. There didn’t need to be as the lines were clearly drawn. As sure as they were that I sucked as a mother I was equally sure that they were dead wrong. The evidence of that was in my child and my relationship with him and THAT was all I needed to put their negative voices to rest in my mind.

I do wish I had been able to communicate my story in the playroom as an example of how they might bond with their children over things like scary movies. I feel it’s such a gift to both mother and child to have that kind of soul connection. So much of what we are taught to do as parents is about authoritarianism and bending our children to our will in obedience, mostly because as adults we are supposed to know better and know what is best for them. But what if we don’t? What if our children are as equally our teachers as we are theirs?

So, there’s one of the “untold stories” of my early days of motherhood and figuring out how to be the best version of myself in a world that I sometimes seem to have little in common with. It felt important to finally document this time in my life.

 

 

Celebrating the Gift of My Birthday – A Tribute to Waking Up

With 48 autumns, winters, springs and summers behind me, today I begin the journey of my 49th year of life on this earth. My birthday wish for others is usually shared as “Enjoy an incredible day celebrating YOU!” so today, as I make a wish for myself, it is the perfect day to explore what it feels like to enjoy an incredible day celebrating me.

Lisa's 49th BirthdayCelebrating me means that I am required to acknowledge my own gifts … things that I am or that I bring to the world that are worthy of celebration. One way to do this is to reflect on how much I have grown. To look back one week, one month, one year, ten years ago … and see and acknowledge all of the positive steps forward I have made.

I feel that the biggest gift of my life, a gift that continues to bestow blessings on me every day, has been that of my awakening. There was a point several years back where I began listening to the small, still voice inside me whispering “Wake up, Lisa!”

I wish sometimes that waking up happened all at once … apparently it does happen overnight for some, but for me, waking up has been happening continuously over the past several years. When I think back and count them, they total nearly seven. Seven years of day-by-day increasing awareness. What does increasing awareness mean?

Back in the early stages it meant that I was re-awakening to me. I began hearing the whisper of my own spirit, re-connecting to my passions, my purpose and the essence of my Self as a woman. Then a bit later the perspective widened to include the awareness of what’s happening in the world. There’s a saying “When the cat is away, the mice will play.” and I woke up to see a rodent-dominated world that my sleeping self could not see. I was too numb.

What numbed me?  Pain, grief, guilt, fear …. all assisting in keeping me asleep. Asleep I am easy to be led. When preoccupied with my internal pain and my attempts to numb it I became like a sheep. As a sheep I was easily herded to follow along with the rest of the flock.

I started dreaming of flocks of sheep. White sheep, black sheep and silver sheep. In my dreams the black and silver sheep were lifting their heads up out of the flock or standing up on hind feet to get a different perspective on where they were being led. The silver sheep wandered back and forth between the white sheep and the black sheep not saying much at all. The black sheep would call out to the other sheep, “Wake up! Don’t go that way, go this way!” but the white sheep would continue on following the path they were told to choose … right to the slaughterhouse.

The grazing areas the sheep were led to were certainly green, the chemical companies saw to that. The White and Black Sheepsheep became excited seeing the vibrant color and anticipated how great it would be to gobble it all up. The first few bites were juicy and delicious, but the pasture, although lush and green, somehow lacked the nutrients the sheep needed to feel satisfied inside. Although they watched their bodies grow fat, they were far from healthy and felt slow, sluggish and still ravenously hungry. They yearned for green pasture that would not only be pleasing to the eye, but that would also satisfy the hunger.

As I started noticing what was going on in the world I began to see how a entire populations of people are being herded like sheep through one lush green pasture after another not even realizing that they are ultimately being led to the slaughterhouse.

I recently read a quote that said, “The truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off.” As I awakened to the truth of what was happening while I slept I became angry and I quickly disassociated myself with my life as a white sheep. I identified deeply with the black sheep, rejecting my former white sheep self completely. I raged against the machine of manipulation that had kept me asleep for so long. I refused to follow along blindly any further.

Once the anger passed, I quickly realized that separating myself from the flock called attention to me in a way that was not conducive to continued life among the flock. I realized that if I became a “management problem” I would be culled. Problem solved.

I also realized that while my life as a white sheep was primarily spent in a hypnotic state of following along, there were a lot of wonderful things about that life that I was not ready to walk away from. This was when the silver sheep started speaking.

Like my inner voice, the silver sheep whispers softly which requires me to be in a space of quiet peace so that I may hear the words. Her words were few and were delivered simply as “Love. Courage. Essence.” Reflecting on the silver sheep and the words she shared, I began to notice that her fleece was not silver at all but was made up of individual black and white strands that twined around each other so tightly that it gave the appearance of being made up of a single strands of shimmering silver. In her fleece she displayed the perfectly balanced blend of black and white – the gray, or in my view, the silver space in between.

This was when I began to understand that life was not meant to be about choosing sides but was meant to be lived in honor of both the black and the white. This is also when I began to see the numbers 1+1=3. I did not understand it at first as I know that mathematically 1+1=2 but the silver sheep kept showing me examples of how two things, two people, two events coming together in collaboration create a third thing that could not have been created without the initial two things AND that the third thing appears as greater than the sum of the contributing parts.

Most recently the silver sheep has been whispering “Love. Accept. Forgive.” And then “Start with you. Begin now. I love you.” “Start with you” means that I am meant to love, accept and forgive myself first. “Begin now” means that at any moment of any day if I discover that I am not acting in a loving, accepting and forgiving way toward myself I can choose to begin again. The great thing about this is although the choice is made to begin again, I am not starting at the beginning each time, but I am continuing to build on prior investments in learning how to honor myself.

“I love you.” To me, I love you represents my higher self or my spiritual self reminding my physical self of what I came here to do and who I came here to be. It reminds me that the journey is and always has been primarily about Love. It carries with it, “I believe in you” and “I support you” which when combined with 1+1=3 translates to me to mean I believe in us, I support us, I love us.

I have been blessed with being an aware participant in my own magical awakening, understanding that when I allow both the dark and light parts of myself, as well as both the physical and spiritual parts of myself I am actively collaborating in the creation of something that is so much more than the sum of the parts. Integrating one part into another can be an intense and emotional experience, but with the right tools to assist with the integration, Wooooo Hoooooo!!! I am so totally enjoying the ride!

I have always found it so much easier to celebrate the gifts of others than to celebrate myself and my own gifts. I feel this may be due to how we are conditioned to not feel too good about ourselves so that our ego remains in check. When we do get “too full of ourselves” there’s always someone out there waiting to bring us back down a notch or two.

The trick is, or more accurately, the gift in that is we get to choose what to celebrate regardless of what anyone else may think or feel. Each and every day brings the gifts of a birth-day where, if we wish to, we can choose to be re-born into the true Essence of our Self. On this day, my 49th birthday, I choose to celebrate the Love, Courage, Essence, Acceptance and Forgiveness that are alive and thriving inside of me and I honor the Love, Courage, Essence, Acceptance and Forgiveness that are alive and thriving inside of you.

Happy Re-Birth day to ME, to YOU and to US! Woooo Hoooo!!! Enjoying the ride!

Dreams Awake: Out of the blur and into the light

The other day, for some reason, I began referring to my life as my dream.  I had been meditating in the garden through which I saw a blank canvas, paint and brushes.  As color was loaded and brush strokes applied I began to see a clear picture of how I was actively painting my own reality in each and every moment.  This ‘mind movie’ was comprised of a series of mental pictures representing the thoughts constantly streaming through my head. I saw symbols of my thoughts from the distant past, recent past and the here and now. It appeared and felt to me as though I was dreaming yet I was wide awake.

Step by StepAfter opening my eyes the dreamy state continued. I was observing Jeff cutting a section of PVC pipe to make holders for the bamboo sticks in the garden shed. As he cut and mounted the pipe on the wall I became aware that his actions had created a sort of brush stroke on the painting of my dream that I simply would not have made.  While what he was doing made perfect sense and was a valuable addition, I had not considered it. My own vision somehow took certain things for granted and in my mental painting of my dream they were slightly out of focus or part of the background.

In Jeff’s painting however, these sections of pipe had purpose. He felt it important enough to load the brush and then apply the stroke with a specific goal in mind. The results are a beautiful and functional order in the chaos. No more bamboo sticks falling all over each other and getting in the way. Need a bamboo stick? Here they are all neatly bundled and waiting to be chosen for a task. It was a place where the addition of a small ‘tool’ created certainty. It struck me how this one seemingly silly little thing was an example of how attention to detail in the right area can result in creating an ease or a natural flow as we move through our garden shed.

Watching this happen seemed to be in slow motion.  I realized how fortunate I am to be sharing and living the experience of my dream with someone like Jeff who is living the experience of his dream. He didn’t ask me for ‘permission’ to load his brush with that particular color. He didn’t consult with me before he made the stroke, he just did it. It was part of HIS dream to do so.

In choosing to share my dream space with him there is a trust that is developed between us. I trust him to go along following the motions of his dream and he trusts me taking action in the motions of mine. What’s happening in the building of this trust is absolutely beautiful. As I saw these silly little PVC pipes being attached to the wall they began to take on so much significance that I realized they weren’t silly at all.

Inspired by the two brush strokes, my mind began rearranging some of the contents of the shed to complement the new additions. What was, fifteen minutes ago, a blur on the canvas suddenly began to have detail defined. What were previously large clouds of light and shadow now began to take on more definition.

I was inspired to load color of my own and apply a few more brush strokes to continue in the shed after Jeff moved on. To define in more detail, a place where for a moment in time our dreams merged.; a place where one plus one equals three. By each of us painting on our own canvas yet sharing a third, separate canvas at the same time, we created something that remains behind to enhance the space that supports us as we travel through it performing the tasks of our callings.

What dreams will you paint on your canvas today? Who will you share them with?

Moving Toward a Dream

My husband Jeff and I have shared the dream of owning a farm almost since the day we met, nearly 31 years ago. When we would talk about our future farm and what it would be like, we described it pretty much like most people would describe a farm. Big house, barns, fences, storage silos, endless fields where large tractors are used to plant, cultivate and harvest vast expanses of corn and hay. So it’s a bit curious that the land we purchased looks nothing like that.

Autumn Pond

Autumn Pond – October 2006

Our “farm” is not a traditional farm at all and is really not at all like the dream as we had envisioned it, however it’s so, so much more. It is wooded wetlands – swamp – consisting of approximately 100 acres of forest, 4 cleared acres and a 4 acre pond. There were no buildings, no fences and no vast fields waiting to be planted but it really didn’t seem to matter. It spoke to us just as it was. We were enchanted by it. No, it didn’t fit the picture we had painted of our dream but we felt called to live, to be and to explore … right here.

Sweet Gum Leaf

Sweet Gum Leaf – October 2006

The two and a half year process of purchasing the land was a challenge that also brought many unexpected gifts. We discovered that the rules, regulations and criteria we had to meet to build a home here were, at their core, about protecting the resource value of the land. We were exposed to new terms in relation to describing and defining our land. Some examples are; transition area, habitat, nesting area, endangered, threatened, ordinary resource value vs. exceptional resource value, upland, wetland, and riparian.

Graceful Grass

Graceful Grass – October 2006

What all that means is that our land is defined as a portion of a larger area of wetland or swampland which acts as a filter for the water running through it. It’s a transition area; a buffer between the higher land elevations and the point where land ends and water begins. It is home to  native plant species such as various grasses, rushes and sedges, milkweed, several species of aster, fern, orchid, mints, mosses, and various trees and shrubs. This combination of greenery provides habitat for wildlife including bear, deer, fox, coyote, beaver, raccoon, rabbits, squirrels, eagles, hawks, owls, vultures, hummingbirds, turtles, frogs and snakes, serves as a stopping point for migratory birds and as a pollen and nectar source for important insect pollinators such as native bees, butterflies and honey bees.

What it all means for us is that by having a dream and moving toward it we’ve landed at a place that we hadn’t anticipated. It isn’t “less than” or “better than”, it’s just different and unique. We were open to hearing and following the call. We allowed ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the land itself vs being locked into a dream that could only be manifested as the vision of a farm we had described for three decades. Our dream is not necessarily manifesting as we had imagined but it is already revealing itself to be so much bigger than we had ever anticipated.

Autumn Meadow

Autumn Meadow – October 2006

In the process of moving toward the dream we’ve pretty much turned our ideas and beliefs about farming upside down. We have discovered aspects of agriculture that we weren’t aware existed before this journey. As an added bonus, integrating new beliefs about agriculture has also somehow curiously revealed things of ourselves that we had forgotten or had been out of touch with for a very long time. Aspects of ourselves that when explored or revealed become like a sort of nourishment to the manifesting of the dream. Assisting it to unfold and blossom before us, petal by petal.

St. John's Wort in Abundance

St. John’s Wort in Abundance – October 2006

We’ve been given the opportunity to turn our beliefs about ourselves upside down a bit as well. What began as a desire to survive by growing things and living off the land has been transformed into a calling to live in stewardship to the land. In this we are watching and participating, moving forward and sitting still. In some cases we are assisting it to be and in others we are letting it be. In the “doing” or “not doing” we are moving from living a life of simply surviving into a life of absolutely thriving.

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