2.23.2010

Give Love


Give your love away. Don't be afraid.

Love is life

Love is priceless and it guides us
Lifts us up and ignites us


Love unites us

Open up your heart and let it shine the brightest

Give Love. Give Your Love Away.

MC Yogi - Give Love (Giving4Living Mix) from MC Yogi on Vimeo.

Thank you for this delicious offering.

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posted by ashley

12.12.2009

The Inner Landscape of Beauty


"Your identity is not equivalent to your biography. There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary."
~ John O'Donohue

"In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam ċara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and ċara is the word for friend. … In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam ċara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam ċara you could share your innermost self, your mind, and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. … In everyone's life there is great need for an anam ċara, a soul friend, in this love you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. Where you are understood, you are at home." ~ From John O'Donohue's book Anam Cara

~ John O'Donohue on Speaking of Faith
~ Commentary from Things That Go Bump in my Head
~ Photo by harold.lloyd

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posted by ashley

9.19.2009

A Bright Welcome to This New Year


"Release painful patterns through embrace and not through struggle. We open our hearts to ourselves, each other and to the Universal Presence in which we are sustained. On the brink of this new year, we awaken to renewed choice. We seek the thoughts, images, feelings and actions that will more clearly reflect the Loving and Peaceful Heart always at the center of our being."
~ Bet Alef High Holy Day Prayer Book

Last night began the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. This marks the beginning of a new year and according to the Jewish calendar it is the year 5770. Rabbi Ted Falcon pointed out that this is a one-year (add the numbers up until you get to a single digit). A one-year symbolizes the beginning. We are at the beginning of a new cycle right now. What kind of a cycle do we want to create in our lives, in our communities, on this planet? What impact might we have if we actively take responsibility for how we grow into this New Year? Wouldn't it be amazing if as Rabbi Ted said, this could be the "big one year" in which we realize our oneness?

And so I ask myself: What thoughts, images, feelings and actions do I want to live this year? How will I more clearly reflect the loving and peaceful heart always at the center of my being? How will I more clearly see and reflect the loving and peaceful heart always at the center of your being? Of our collective being? What does it feel like for me to open my heart more fully to myself, others and the source that sustains me and us? This year, I will discover new ways to wake up, recognize and live the fullness of who I am, the depth of my yearnings, the bright vision and sense of possibility that I see.

"This is a year that needs you to be you."
~ Rabbi Ted Falcon

These are the questions I will be resting in today and for the next 9 days until Yom Kippur - meditating, listening, setting intentions, singing, dancing and dreaming what's possible into being. I will follow Rabbi Ted's instructions that it is my job right now to dream the biggest dreams and see visions as large as I can. I will do this for the sake of being an active servant to life, nourishing love, peace, healing, and wholeness in the world. This year the universe needs me to be me. Rabbi Ted invites us to ask ourselves,

"What am I being called to bring to this time?"


I think about Chris Corrigan's recent post about intention... Now is a time to cultivate action that is rooted in intention and to keep asking, "What is my life dedicated to?”


If any of these questions spark something in your heart, please listen and follow that spark!! And if you'd like to share what emerges, I'd love to hear.

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posted by ashley

9.03.2009

A Baby's Unconditional Trust and Love

photo by Alyssa L. Miller (no relation to people in the story)

A Baby's Unconditional Trust and Love -- A Kindness Story
--written by rettak at HelpOthers.org

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled.

His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. 'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik. My husband and I exchanged looks, 'What do we do?' Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi.'

Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.' Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. 'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed.

As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.' Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.' I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.

With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.'

I had just witnessed real love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was blind, holding a child who was not.

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posted by ashley

3.31.2009

Don't Miss the Love-Messages Flashing From Every Eye


The world is an open green
in the middle of a garden

Beings in various forms
see their reflections and laugh,
love-messages flashing from every eye

~Rumi


photo by divyanshs

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posted by ashley

3.22.2009

Children Keeping it Simple, Teaching Simplicity


A few inspiring comments from my teachers in simplicity, children.
  • I was participating in Seattle’s Martin Luther King, Jr., March and Rally this year with some of the faculty, students and parents from the school I work at. During the march one of our first graders looked up at me and said, “Oh, I know why you’re here today, Ashley.” “Why?” I asked. “Because this is all about friendship… and you’re the friendship teacher.”

    (fyi: I host Friendship Groups, a class that all the students in the class participate in just like math or reading. The aim is to help students deepen their ability to connect with and understand themselves and others. It's all about friendship... with ourselves, others and the world around us!)

  • During Obama's presidential inauguration Rev. Joseph Lowery was talking about love,
    "And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance."

    I looked in front of me as a Kindergartner was staring down at his little hands, shaping them into a heart. That image summed up where my hope for our future lies... in love.

  • After the inauguration we hosted an Open Space with the 3rd graders. One child's closing remarks, "I learned that when everyone pitches in just a little bit, it can make a giant difference."

  • Words of wisdom that a 2nd grader told me over lunch one day that I am practicing and trying to better embody, "Just listen until your mind gets deeper and then you'll understand."
I am so grateful for all the gifts that are bestowed upon me by these wise humans who are so willing to share their world.

heart photo by samantha celera

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posted by ashley

2.18.2009

Brains, Beauty, Love, Learning and Celebration

For the next three days I'll be attending the Learning and the Brain Conference which is focusing on social brain research. It is very exciting to be learning more about the science and neurology that underscores much of the theoretical philosophies and intuitive knowings that are the foundations for much of my work and inspiration. I hope to learn more about mirror neurons, theory of mind, emotional regulation, memory and wisdom, and promoting social and emotional intelligence.

The last couple of days I've been hanging out with the remarkable Amy Lenzo. Amy has created an enticing world over at the Beauty Dialogues. I greatly appreciate Amy's willingness to recognize the beauty and potential not only in the physical world around her, but also in the human world. She has been a pivotal supporter in encouraging many creative hearts to find their voice of expression and share it with the world. I am very grateful to have benefited so much from her recognition of and encouragement towards Easily Amazed finding ways to grow into all it can be! Thanks, girl!

Over the next few days I will be paying attention to how beauty and allurement fit into this world of social and emotional brain research. Brian Swimme suggests that love begins as allurement and attraction. We know that attraction and allurement between a baby and its parent propel the relationship between them and this relationship fundamentally shapes the development of the child. As Mary Gordon so aptly states, "Love grows brains."

And we can never have too much love in our world. On Sunday, my friend Tracy Davis, took me to the incredibly inspiring and healing Glide Memorial Church, a place that is actively promoting the forces of love, celebration, inclusion and equality in a spiritually and culturally uplifting way. This was a beautiful expression of social, emotional and spiritual wisdom deep at play. I'll leave you with a poem that is Glide's Core Values:

The Ground We Stand On
Radically Inclusive
We welcome everyone. We value our differences.
We respect everyone.

Truth Telling
We each tell our story. We each speak our truth.
We listen.

Loving and Hopeful
We are all in recovery. We are a healing community.
We love unconditionally.

For the People
We break through barriers. We serve each other.
We change the world.

Celebration
We sing. We dance. We laugh together.
We celebrate life!

looking up at mom by dolanh

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posted by ashley

2.06.2009

An Invisible String That Will Stretch and Not Break

photo by D.Hyuk

An amazing story about the bond between a mother and a daughter. I think it's a beautiful analogy that any family could play with.
Meredith has an ongoing story about an "invisible string" attaching her to her mother. This story began in a literal manner, when she at age two would wrap one end of a string around her mother and then wrap the other end around her own wrist and say that they were "connected forever." The string has morphed into an invisible string, that will "stretch and not break" when necessary, such as when she is at preschool. We have come to think of this string as an indication of her internal emotional state and a metaphor for managing separation.

For example, after a long and challenging day recently, she said that the string was very short and would break if her mother left her side. Her baby sister started crying, however, so then she added that her magic wand had turned the string into a "long golden thread that would stretch and not break" while her mother tended to the baby. "But," she warned, "when Rosie stops crying, it will turn back into a very short string that can break easily." She mentions the string every month or two, and we have come to appreciate her use of creativity and abstraction in expressing her psychological state.

~Seattle Mom

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posted by ashley

11.17.2008

Signs of Change


Please take a moment to watch this video I helped Thomas Arthur make after Saturday's march protesting the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

In cities across America people took to the streets in national demonstrations to promote love and marriage equality rights for every American. Saturday's marches showed the importance of each of us speaking out for change we believe in. There is a strong current of belief in this country right now that if we work together for a shared purpose, we can make a difference, we can have an impact on the policies in our country. Please take a moment to watch the video and feel the positive spirit of change that marched through the streets of Seattle. Stand up for change and equality.

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posted by ashley

5.31.2008

Fear, Nourishment and Beauty


Last week my heart was nourished as I spent 5 days in Atlanta with family and friends. A place of intimate relationship and comfort with a dear friend of mine was restored. I am beyond words with gratitude. I am touched with love’s grace.

Fear
I also went to the oncologist with my dad and his wife to learn about his chemotherapy treatments that begin on June 5. It's time for me to make friends with cancer. I figure it’s here so we might as well get to know each other.

For me, being directly connected to cancer generates a lot of fear while also illuminating much beauty. I’m witnessing and am an integral part of this story where a cancer diagnosis of someone I love initiates transformation and growth to many in his circle… touching hearts wide open and inviting expressions of life and love to travel closer to the surface. For this I feel thankful. At the same time, I feel guilty for feeling thankful. (My judgment towards myself can be quite harsh.)

And still, there is the big fear of Cancer.

Being back in Seattle, I noticed last night that it feels good to step away from that fear for a bit. I also feel guilty that I am able to take a break.

Cancer is scary. Cancer is powerful. Cancer is unpredictable. Cancer is unknown.

What am I afraid of?

I’m afraid that my dad will fall into the sickness… that he’ll be taken over by being sick and fall away from being alive.

I’m afraid that I won’t have my dad in my life for a long time to come… that I won’t always be able to depend on him to answer my questions, to gather family together, to dazzle people with his charm, to be my little girl’s daddy. That’s a big one. The little girl inside of me won’t always have her daddy around.

I’m afraid of seeing him suffering… of being held hostage to the helpless feeling that there is nothing I can do to relieve his suffering… that he is in pain… that is the reality… and I must just accept and be with him in the pain. I’m afraid that I will be overwhelmed with my own pain… that I will be flooded.

Nourishment
My friend was recently at a workshop for compassion fatigue and she reminded me again of how we can’t take away another person’s pain. No matter how much we would like to, we can’t change what is for them.

Yet we can support them by making the space around them as nurturing as possible. We can be aware of where we focus our own attention and how we tend to their physical space, psychological space, relationships, etc.

I think about creating sacred healing space around someone who is ill (physically, emotionally, spiritually). To me sacred healing space does not mean that it’s somber and serious with New Age music playing and people in deep meditation. Sacred healing space varies for each person. What is sacred to you, what is healing for you? For my dad, I believe that having music playing is healing… it creates a sacred space. Sometimes that music is southern rock, sometimes folk, sometimes world, but music seems to churn his soul to a place of familiarity when it might otherwise be spinning in a realm of fear or anxiety about the unknown.

Sacred healing space has some element of comfort and familiarity. I believe it’s not just comfort for the obvious person in need of healing, but comfort for the whole. Who are the stable figures in the scene and what elements in the environment are a source of comfort for them? For me a prime space of comfort is in the psychological realm. I feel a nourishing deep breath of peace when I have some knowing of what is going on inside of others… when they communicate how they are experiencing our shared moment. This is healing to me, it invites me to surrender to this moment more fully, it expands my perspective to embrace not just my sense of the whole but also a validated knowing of how others are experiencing the whole. What makes an environment feel comfortable for you?

Beauty
If I could make a wish for my dad right now… it would be that his heart would keep opening and surrendering to life’s beauty and this moment’s preciousness. For me beauty is not an idea, it’s not even a perspective (“I find this beautiful, you find that beautiful”). For me, beauty is a profound and embodied resonance of YES!, WOW!, AHHHHH… Life’s Beauty is a sense of completion, perfection, harmony. I feel something is beautiful when my soul knows it. When I relate with something and as a result feel more alive, I know it is beautiful (or our relationship is beautiful).

Beauty is everywhere, everything is of the essence of life and existence. Regardless of how nasty and gnarly or evil and deceitful it is, it is of the fundamental patterns and origins of life. There is always a way to look into something and see the wholeness of what is currently in a not-so-whole state. To see the beauty in the pattern of a pile of shit… or the beauty of an innocent child and the brilliance of human defenses that have given way to a hateful adult. This is my optimist speaking, this perspective is the force behind my shaman. If I slow down and settle into the moment, life is cloaked in beauty and alignment with beauty and grace is effortless.

And so, of course, how can I have this wish for an opening, surrendering heart for my dad without it being a wish for me? At the core of my purpose, it is also a wish for you and all those that walk this earth now and in generations to come. How can we cultivate a sacred healing space for ourselves so that, in turn, we may help shape sacred healing spaces for others?

These are a few of the many questions and conversations keeping me company these days!

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posted by ashley

5.01.2008

Returning Home

I'm back in Seattle now after a little over 2 weeks in Atlanta with family and fate. I sit in one of my favorite coffee shops. Drink coffee, eat a bagel, watch the people around, smell the smells, hear the many sounds, feel the quiet/loud, stillness/activity. It's sunny outside. I see the light shining through new spring leaves. That makes me smile!

There are so many thoughts, feelings and sensations moving through me. Is it that I don't know where to start or am I afraid to dip into the well, what might I pull out?

My heart has been deeply touched and changed through life experiences of recent days. I went home to be with my dad and family as my dad had major surgery. I was there before hand, during the 4 hour surgery, at the hospital for the 8 days of healing, at home a couple of days, and back to the hospital just before I left town yesterday. Our family has grown closer and supported each other phenomenally through the stresses of surgery and the surprise of a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Our spirits stay high, the laughter continues to rumble and some of our outer shells slowly soften. We cry also!

One thing I've been fascinated by is how disordering it can feel when one is unable to play the accustomed (habitual) roles in a social system. For me it was in my family. For a few of us, we noticed that there are roles that we generally play, that are expected of us. In times of stress and intensity, sometimes it wasn't appropriate for us to play those roles. And then we felt a loss of identity. If I'm not the helper. If I don't know how to be supportive and how to express my love in valuable ways. If my presence isn't a comfort. Then who am i? What is my purpose?

And now I return to 'my life.' What is my role here? I've been immersed moment to moment in the life of my dad and how each of us around him, who love him so dearly, are responding to the intensities of change, fear and discomfort... to the heart-touchings of life's fragile importance, of love's expansive blessings, and of the gentle gifts of grace that emerge from vulnerability and closeness.

Now I'm in a coffee shop with other people on their computers, the espresso machine clicking, the guy walking by and smiling, a child trying to figure out how he pays for and receives his drink all by himself, the humm in my head of what I need to do today to return to this world... Life just keeps going. My body's here now. My mind and much of my family are still there. And I'm confused. Peaceful... and confused.

It's hard for me to stay centered in this moment. I drift away... drifting backwards through the stream of experiences that happened in the hospital, at the house, in the car, in the woods, on the phone, by myself, with my loved ones, in the silence. Those were some of my favorite experiences... the pauses between the moments... especially with my dad. Being with him, sweetly and genuinely, in silence. Just there. Together. No boundaries between us.

My mind also drifts to the future. What lies ahead for him? What will he experience? What will we experience? How do I proceed? How can I be so far away? And gently, I remind myself to breathe. I feel my lungs rise and fall. I try to focus on some part of my body. I notice what's going on around me. And then, settling into here... I feel confused... and wonder, how do I proceed?
The Way You Live Today by Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

Your entire destiny is contained in and determined by the way you live today: the orientation you give to your thoughts and feelings, and the activities on which you choose to spend your energies.(…)

This is something that has to be done every day: be conscious and aware at each instant of how you are using your energies...You can do it while you are walking to work, on the bus, at the dentist’s, or in your own kitchen. Wherever you are, at any moment of the day, you can always glance into yourself and ask yourself: {What is alive right now? Is it helpful to focus my attention here?}*

Let the word ‘harmony’ soak into you at every moment; keep it within you as a kind of tuning fork: if you feel that you are beginning to worry or get upset, pick it up and listen to it, and do nothing until you have tuned your whole being once more. Harmony is the foundation of every successful venture, every divine realization. Before undertaking any activity, whatever it may be, learn to concentrate on harmony and your work will bear fruit for the rest of eternity.

*My own questions, not from the author
I stare at that tree with the light shining through the green, green leaves. I soak in that harmony. There is harmony all around me in the outer world. I invite this harmony to soak into me at every moment. I will carry it around with me in the form of a smooth polished stone, inviting me to be present, surrender and listen to this moment. To trust in this moment. And to tune my whole being, once more, to harmony. I get to learn who I am now... and what does harmony in my life now feel like.

Green Leaves by Cathryn Cooper

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posted by ashley

4.21.2008

Love, Courage and Being Human

We’re so human.

Sitting in the hospital has the effect of causing me to think a lot about being human, having a body, how the body works, how we humans are connected to each other, and particularly the many, many different life experiences that we each have, the infinite possibilities that there are.

I’m in the ICU waiting room right now. Sleeping relatives, people reading, conversations, pacing,cell phones, tappering fingers at the computer, reading the newspaper, staring. What brings them all here? What is their loved one experiencing? How long have they been in ICU? Was it a planned visit like ours is or was it an emergency that brought them here?

A question passing through my head… How does each person cope?

And then I hear a laugh, and a woman somewhere on the other side of the plants says, “Ahh… you’re such an optimist!”

I woke up this morning thinking about bravery, courage and love. My dad continues to astonish me with the courage that he’s showed throughout this entire experience. Coming out of major surgery, he baffled all of us with his completely lucid, spirited, curious and informative self. Really, this guy just spent four hours in surgery. He had his stomach opened and then his entire digestive system was re-organized (gallbladder removed, part of pancreas removed, part of stomach removed, bile duct removed, and a tumor removed). Everything was sewed back together in new ways and his stomach stapled shut. Now he’s asking if we took a picture of all of us in the waiting room, he's telling us about the synchronistic connections with the anesthesia doctor and making jokes with the nurses. How is that possible? How amazing is our human spirit and the ability to not just survive but to do so with the will to flourish.

I really believe that a lot of his success has to do with his bravery and courage. I would say he walked into this surgery open-heartedly. For me an open heart has trust and is available to connect with what ever is coming its way and even surrender to it. I continually see him taking in the facts, meeting what is known about how he (and his body) are experiencing life, and then being with what arises. That includes being with his fear, his nervousness, the hinting inevitable ‘what-if’s. Being with it all… and not stopping there… having the courage to push beyond what-is to hold the perspective of what could be – healing, fast recovery, his own bed, LIFE!

As I write now, it is day 3 after the surgery. He’s out of ICU. This morning he took his first walk around the nursing station. This afternoon he made three laps. One by one the tubes are coming out and at the moment his legs are dancing under his covers to the Keb Mo playing on the CD player!

He believes that so much of his progress is from his huge network of love, support and care. He is a man well loved and respected by those in his life.

And so the questions that sit with me right now… How might each of us touch that place in us that feels well loved and respected (especially loved and respected by ourselves)? What happens when we live from that center? How do we allow that to be medicine that empowers us to have courage to move towards the possibilities of what could-be that feel alive and vibrant?

And as for my dad, you can follow his journey on The P Train.

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posted by ashley

10.04.2007

Changes


moving along



with love in my heart

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posted by ashley

9.16.2007

The Way WIngs Should

THE WAY WINGS SHOULD

What will
our children do in the morning?
Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play,
the way wings
should?

Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered
the strength from the planets that all men and women need to balance
the wonderful charms of
the earth

so that her power and beauty does not make us forget our own?

I know all about the ways of the heart - how it wants to be alive.

Love so needs to love
that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment. But the sky's mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you, for I
sing those words.

What will our children do in the morning
if they do not see us
fly?

~ Rumi ~

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posted by ashley

7.14.2007

Embracing Love



"I knocked on the door
of the One who embraces Love.
He opened it, saw me there and began to laugh.
He pulled me in....
I melted like sugar cubes...
in the arms of the Lover,
that wizard of the world... "

~Rumi

photo source and poem found at Ineffable Bliss

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posted by ashley

7.04.2007

Emerging Independence

More personal confessions...

It’s strange to me how much I “need” to have others validate things that I do or experience, how much I can deny my own experiencing, minimizing it, not honoring the fullness of intensity that is my living or the guided action that emerges from my listening. For example, I've noticed lately how I experience a touch of wholeness when someone validates how deeply I feel. It surprises me (and then often moves me to tears) how healing and confirming it is to have someone else simply acknowledge that I experience life intensely, that I feel deeply. How curious that I don’t trust my own experiencing as proof. Intellectually I do, but at a sensing level there is still so much I am learning to trust.

I am grateful for people in my life who reflect these realities back to me. Through the interdependence of our relationships, I am invited into greater independence, a fuller knowing of what it's like to be me. What a blessing.


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

~ Mary Oliver

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posted by ashley

6.27.2007

Living With an Open Heart

I’m procrastinating. I’m scared. One more bite of toast. One more reason why I’m not comfortable at this table… one more excuse to keep me from going into what is present in me in this moment.

Today I must write. Trails of life-lived and life-living are insisting to be formed into words, to be woven into some form of expression. This morning I’m driving to a coffee shop to honor this call, experiencing the fullness of feeling inside of me… listening.

I hear an NPR clip on the radio about Iraq… and how it has become such a rarity there and a noted blessing for someone to die of natural causes… for people to have the luxury of saying good bye before a loved one passes. The tears ever-presently close to the surface swell in my eyes. Feeling and thinking tossling under the covers… emotions? grief? fortune? blessings? the world? suffering? why? what to do?

. . . love . . .

I always return to love. My car feels like it’s filled with inhabitants… so much inside this little space… feeling… driving… a truck parked along the road turns on, the tail lights catching my eye… a bumper sticker of the word LOVE on the window. The ‘O’ is a grenade. I shudder… and wonder… feel the silent tossling under the covers, the whirlpool of thinking-feeling-stimulation that has no form but inhabits huge amounts of space.

In this coffee shop now, I hold back the tears while simultaneously sort of forcing them forth. Marveling.

Yesterday I rambled through the arboretum with a dear companion, an old friend and a new friend, the same person. My heart raw and vulnerable, wide open and actively reaching for protection and comfort. The trees provided support, a mothering presence.

When we stopped in an area where the trees were scarce, more scattered, I felt my heart throbbing, yearning, wanting. It was like a fresh wound exposed to the elements, the wind blowing on the tender opening… I moved closer to the trees, closer to the warmth and support, the knowing forces of thriving existence… grounded, rooted, connected. I found a center where I could rest… and be… open to what is happening in this moment…showing up for this opportunity to be alive… as it is… as I am… as we are... right now.

Chris wrote recently about
“a fierce commitment to defending the territory of the open heart and a fierce commitment to training in the practice of wielding love, for communities, people, ideals, possibilities and whatever else.”
I found myself wanting to hear Christy teach from a 5-element perspective about the paricardium, the heart protector… and how it might relate to protecting and defending the heart while also inviting love into heart-space… that essence of heart that is bigger than our individual hearts. This brings to mind past writing on this topic by me and Christy.

It’s hard work living with an open heart! (my heart wells, tears swell writing that) And I rebel against the phrase ‘hard work.’ It is a deep practice, one which requires a huge amount of conscious effort and attention.

As we grow and develop, we experience life. In honor of living, we develop means of surviving. Few of us unfold in an enlightened bubble where the environment we encounter perfectly meets our needs and mirrors our essence. We are brilliant at adapting to what we experience, shaping our being and becoming to accommodate those unmet needs, organizing and re-organizing our interior worlds in creative and life-preserving formations. We are witty in the ways in which we latch onto the images we see in mirrors held up to us, whether they match our essence or not, we can cling fiercely to the labels, perceptions, conceptions… descriptions of who we’re seen to be, who we see ourselves to be… and scripts which we internalize as who we believe we are… stories which help us feel solid and grounded, inhabited by an identity that we can rest in… believe in… survive as.



Tears return again as I rest in feeling, listening for the shape of words to emerge. The theme… vulnerability. Living with an open heart is a practice of returning again and again to a vulnerable state… confronting the edges of survival that have served so reverently… and must now be softened… eased open into a fuller experience of what is happening now.

Listening to and being guided by heart’s resonance, foundations crumble, certainty and knowing break down, new feelings and sensations pierce experiences, change scraping the walls of habit, uncertainty paralyzing open static responses. Revealed, exposed, broken open and vulnerable… shaky? uncertain? scared? worried? calm? aligned? connected? fierce?

So Chris asks: “What is dangerous to the territory of the open heart?”

I notice how dangerously vulnerable an open heart is without awareness and discernment...and perhaps without clarity. Revealed to the elements, unprotected and ignorant to what-is, the defenseless heart is available to connect with anything. This is dangerous.

As I try to articulate this danger, I return to the word LOVE with the O as a grenade. We can connect with an essential experience (love) that contains a grenade, that shares its love through violence and destruction. We also can shape our experiencing to connect with love that contains a circle, a renewing cycle honoring death and rebirth, an evolving returning, an embrace of essence. In this moment my experience is that awareness, clarity, discernment and connection with loving essence empowers the open heart. (These words still feel weak in articulating... but perhaps tickle open the essence around which I'm trying to speak. Please feel free to inquire about or grow this thought further.)

Thomas stands in emotion sharing on this topic,
“I feel such sadness and rage at how fucking hard this all is. And then I feel the beauty of all these radiant souls working in the mystery as agents of change and discover a profound longing to live into the honesty and compassion of a wide open heart.”
I think that taking a stand to live into the honesty and compassion of a wide open heart means accepting the reality that symbolic grenades are always nearby… change is hard… love hurts… and with discernment and clarity, honesty and acceptance, we can align with beauty, we can listen to the wisdom of our hearts, we can follow guidance, resting in and being directed by the fierce power of love... not a violent love, an embracing love.

The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation,
we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin




Fire picture and mandala from Thomas Arthur, Trees from Nat Lockwood

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posted by ashley

5.16.2007

Hearing, Seeing and Loving

Anne Stadler recently inquired on an email list:
I am wondering do you feel “heard”, “seen”, and “loved”—even by the people with whom you are conversing? Do you feel you are engaging fully (using all your intelligences!) with each other and the whole in this exploration?
Many inspiring responses have emerged... and here is what I wrote:
I'd like to share some personal stories. My practice keeps turning me again and again inside myself (along a pathway of service beyond myself).

I'm sitting at a coffee shop right now, gazing out the sunny window. A dog turns around and stares in my eyes. In this moment I feel heard, seen and loved by that dog. I recognize myself in him... his alert curiosity, seeming contentment in experiencing life as it is. He stays close to his human companion and sweetly offers loving connections with those who pass by (or sit on the other side of the window!).

Earlier this morning I felt very alive, heard, seen and loved in my fascination with the appearance and movements of snails in the garden. So many unique angles from which to experience them, especially as their bodies morphed with each subtle movement. And each snail was so different from the other.

Lately I've been noticing where I don't feel heard, seen or loved by myself or parts of myself don't feel heard, seen or loved by other parts. I notice when I don't feel this towards myself, I seek that feeling externally from others. When I feel a longing to be heard, seen or loved by another, my practice now is to deepen my connections internally, inviting myself to be heard, seen and loved by myself. When I am connecting with myself in this way, I am more easily able to recognize and receive energy and attention from others.

A couple of days later...

This morning I deeply felt a longing for another to see and love me... in a particular way that I wanted to be seen and loved. I felt myself out of balance and needing attention.... so I set out on a walk. My intention-- to experience the beauty around me and within me. My goal -- to find a centered place within where I felt seen, heard and loved by myself. My hope -- this practice would lessen the contraction and sense of woundedness that I was feeling in my longing for another to fill that need for me. It worked! Turning towards and embracing myself opened up so much more space for me to be present with and accepting of what was before me.

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posted by ashley

4.29.2007

The World I Want to Live In

A sunny morning reflecting, writing and creating. This poem and post catches my attention and leaves me with tears in my eyes. It's possible. Keep dreaming your dreams. Let's celebrate our connections and bring these visions to life... together.

This is the whole post from CharityFocus Blog
The wonderfully inspiring Arab-American poet, Naomi Shihab Nye wrapped a poem around an unexpected experience of kindness she encountered at an airport in Albuquerque and sent it off to exactly two friends ... who passed it on to friends, who passed it on to friends who ... and so the ripple of poetry and goodness went, and courtesy of Daily Good reader, Cynthia Loebig, here it is in front of all of you. At a recent reading of the poem, Nye ended the evening remarking, that this spontaneous series of people passing the poem on had probably resulted in more people reading it than would have had it appeared in a print magazine ...

Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal
by Naomi Shihab Nye
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well -- one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew -- however poorly used -
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we're fine, you'll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let's call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her -- southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
Questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies -- little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts -- out of her bag --
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo -- we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers --
Non-alcoholic -- and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American -- ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend -- by now we were holding hands --
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate -- once the crying of confusion stopped
-- has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

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posted by ashley

2.26.2007

Dear Loving You

Dear loving You, (says the moon)

I see you lying there
held with earthen hands.
Your radiance reaches me
in an arc of divine light.

Your warmth is like a blanket of love
draped over your friends, family, and kin.

I see your light reflecting upon all that you touch,
the nearby waves shimmer with
your gratitude and devotion.

Dear loving You,
Your companionship has been unfailing.
Each time I seek you
you have always been there.

You are my familiar friend -
So wise and still full of surprise.
You are a beautiful mystery,
A paradox of known and unknown.

You and I breathe into the space
between us, dear One.
I, too, feel this expansion --
now filling again with light – yours
(I am a mere reflection of your light).

I wonder how it is
that you can be so loving?
such radiance pours from you. . .

I am illuminated with gratitude, dear You
(says the moon).



Poem by Meredith at Graceful Presence and comic from Ineffable Bliss

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posted by ashley

2.13.2007

Happy Heart Day



I'm all about celebrating the heart... so happy heart day to you!

Since there is no way that I could give a tangible token of my love to all 250 students
that I work with, I decided to turn myself into a valentine day card.
My front seen above and the back below.

And this is the blog version of my valentine to you!




And here's a picture of me in a Kindergarten class!

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posted by ashley

12.24.2006

Letting Go, Passing Away and Coming Together

A few nights ago while I was at the coast in LaPush, sinking into a powerful place during a time of deep change, learning from the raging winds, enormous waves, wisdom of the land, and lessons of community, I had a powerful dream. While I was writing the dream the next morning, I felt my friend, Finn Voldtofte, very strongly and very close. Since being together at the gathering on Bowen Island, Finn has been mentoring me and I believe many others in a process of letting go. Prior to being connected to a resperator and being held in sleep, Finn knew that the work he was doing was soul work, having to do with setting himself free at a soul level. He asked that all people assisting him in this difficult time set him completely free. This invitation created a wave of collective intention that very palpably ran through Finn's vaste local and global community. I sense that we have all been on a deep journey as we hold this space with and for Finn and as we ourselves surrender to letting go and setting free. This dream touches many places in my own life and development (such that I'm a little embarrassed to be sharing it here). I think that it also touches on themes emerging at a global and universal level too. I am very grateful to Finn who has been mentoring me and helping me to deepen my sense and understanding of this process in so many ways.
Dec. 20 Last night’s dream:

There is a small child, maybe 2. She keeps coming to me and telling me exactly what she needs. She’s very connected. Very clear about what needs to happen. Very strong willed. Not pushy, not aggressive but very assertive. She is clear as to what must happen and I am her confident and the adult that can help her with her needs. She has been preparing the ground with this one particular woman. The time comes that she is ready to go to the woman and surrender… to be given over to, fully adopted and cared for by this woman. She is ready to be born anew, arriving as a child with a mother… being a part of a unit, connected to a family.

She comes to the woman… more as an infant than a toddler. The woman is aware of the divinity that this child embodies and knows the high task of companioning her through this passage. There are 4 of us surrounded around the small body of this child and yet energetically, there a HUGE expanse of presence between us. The child is in a deep sleep, coma-like. It is clear that she is going through intense struggle. It is unclear as to whether her life will survive. There is some fear within the adults… to see this innocent child in such a state helplessness, tinkering so close to the edge of death. And yet, she is there with a huge amount of presence.

There are two adults on each side, one below at her feet and me above her head. Her arms are crossed upon her chest. My hands rest upon her hands, my legs cradling her head and shoulders. The other women are showing up powerfully. The woman who is the new mother is across from me. She is actually not below at the feet but is holding the child. I feel now that the child is in both of our laps with her head resting in my lap, my hands upon her hands and heart and she is really cradled by her new mother. The other two women are essential in holding the container together… in creating a dense space where time stands still and we hold our full attention, being together. Holding space. Letting go. Supporting. Encouraging. Granting permission. Breathing.

I feel some of the fear of the other women. This child seems so vulnerable and in such ‘bad shape’. I reassure them that the child who had been guiding me up until this point was extremely powerful… filled with a huge amount of determination and understanding. She walked consciously to this point and it is our opportunity to be with her consciously, accepting and surrendering to the letting go that is happening now.
Yesterday I found out that Finn passed away a couple of nights ago. I feel so blessed to have been able to know, connect with, learn from and love such an inspiring human. We met at an Evolutionary Salon where I was touched on a non-personal level by his wisdom and experience. He continually guided and invited deep connection with the presence of the magic in the middle, not through instruction and lecture, but experientially in the ways he engaged with himself and the group. I also had the opportunity to learn from him and with him through facilitating together on the final day. After the salon we connected some online.

It was at the gathering on Bowen and the time since then, however, that it became (and is becoming) clear to me what a profound teacher he is to me. Now isn't the time for putting this part into words, but I want to honor it.

I breathe deeply as tears well in my eyes... A seagull flies above the trees out my window... My heart and soul honor with deep grace and gratitude the life of Finn... A huge grin leaps upon my face... My heart and soul celebrate the life that continues to thrive as the being that was Finn continues to inspire, guide and love.

I give thanks to Finn and to Martin Ehrensvärd and Tina Ranløv, Finn's close friend and wife, who have not only showed up in unimaginably powerful ways but who also continue to share the wisdom and growth with this broader community. I leave you with words from Tina as she shared the news of Finn's passing and invites each of us into a calling:
It has been and it is to me a lifegiving process and I feel in me and the people close around me a call from life to grow, to share, to evolve, to come together, to ask for help.
c20

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posted by ashley

1.30.2005

challenges of loving

When I know your total acceptance then I can show you my softest, most penetrable, delicate, beautiful, and vulnerable self.

~ Joseph Zinker
And what of the courage that is needed to own these delicate and vulnerable places? The space may be held, the foundation upon which an integrated person of profound self appreciation, self love, and self knowledge is established, the stage is set externally, the invitation has been released... and then comes the totally individualized, self-contained moment of choice. Do I release this hidden soft and tender part of my being -- this wounded, fragmented, repressed and rejected expression of who I am out into the world? Must I own it? Must I confront the fact that this is me -- is a part of me? And will this special other hate this part of me as much as I do? Will they acknowledge the grasp it has on me, the contraction it ignites within me? I know their total acceptance -- and it is that I am scared to look at my own soft, penetrable, delicate and vulnerable states -- I don't find them beautiful and I'm conflicted by the fact that another does. And so I pull away -- pushing another away.

And as I spiral into my fears, into my old habits, into my contractions, into my fear, into my pain, into my discomfort... I notice what's there. I allow myself to feel that which naturally arises. I allow those icky feelings to stay, rather than pushing them back down into the dungeons of my psyche. And when I come up for breath, I remind myself:

I am supported for all of who I am and I support myself being all that I AM.

Comments:

I so needed to hear what you had to say.

I love you and think about you often,
~leela


GravatarMay the blessing of light be upon you
Light on the outside and light on the inside.

With God's sunlight shining on you, may
your heart glow with warmth like a turf fire
that welcomes friends and strangers alike.


Gravatarleela,

i had actually written this bit (in my own journal) long before i wrote the first one. i thought i'd post the lovey mushy one first and then this one. after reading your's and mary's words on the other post, this one seemed to fit right in.

i love being a part of your sharing network and within the blessing of receiving your love.

loving you,
ashley

jan...

i would be sooooo honored and appreciative if you would share more of your prayers with me/ us. i needed what your wrote today so dearly... and it's shaped the tone of my morning in such a tender way, awakening sleeping and hiding light.

i am always so moved and feel such a core place of contact with heart, being, and Spirit when i read these prayer comments that you drizzle about the internet. what are some of the daily prayers that you say? do you have some favorites? would you email me or maybe even be interested in posting here at easily amazed some?

a forever fan in gratitude,
ashley

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posted by ashley

1.26.2005

loving

The experience of being loved is one of acute receptivity, of taking in the gift of another. It necessitates readiness to let the other person penetrate one's deepest stratum; it requires openess and lack of defensiveness and suspiciousness that the loving person will be injurious. In the experience of letting the other person love us, we willingly take the risk of being hurt. The fact that the loving other has the power to hurt (to reject) and chooses not to gives the experience a sense of magnetism.

When we feel totally loved by someone who really "matters," the ecstatic receptive experience makes us feel beautiful, perfect, graceful, profound, and wise. Our deepest, most profound stirrings of self-appreciation, self-love, and self-knowledge surface in the presence of a person whom we experience as totally accepting. It is as though we say, "When I know your total acceptance, then I can show you my softest, most penetrable, delicate, beautiful, and vulnerable self" (Carl Rogers).

~ Joseph Zinker in Creative Process in Gestalt Therapy
Do you have love like this in your life? Are you acutely receptive, drinking the gifts of others? Do you let others into the depths of your inner world, sharing the treasures that lie beneath your layers? Do you risk being hurt for the opportunity to feel beautiful, perfect, graceful, profound, and wise? Do you love in this way? Are you totally accepting of those that you love so that they feel at peace and free to share with you their softest, most penetrable, delicate, and beautiful self? Do the people that you love know how accepted they are so that they may expose themselves to you, open their heart to you, and trust that you will be tender and respectful, loving and appreciative of their vulnerable, undefended self? Do you feel seen and appreciated by the people that love you? Do you communicate, in clear and articulate ways, that which you see and appreicate in the people that you love?

And if you're seriously asking yourself these questions... what type(s) of loving relationship(s) are you imagining? Your spouse, your partner, your lover, your child, your parent, your friend? Who are the people that really "matter" in your life and thus have the opportunity to catalyze an ecstatic receptive experience, to travel with you, accompanying you, as you blossom and grow, radiate and shine as the most beautiful, perfect expression of you that you've yet to experience? With whom do you allow such intimate relationships to sprout?

There are so many rich flavors of intimacy -- physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual -- each with infinite shades and textures. One unfortunate facet of our society is a common myth that the depths of an intimate relationship can only be experienced with a life partner or romantic lover. Frequently when a person feels seen, accepted, appreciated, and loved, there is an assumption of the presence of sexual desire or attraction. And yet, this need not be the case.

So in honor of the many types of intimacy that decorate our world and make my own personal experience of living so incredibly rich, I would like to say THANK YOU to each of you that loves me, accepts me, appreciates me, receives me, and companions me on this wonderful adventure of self acceptance and trust, self-appreciation, self-love, and self-knowledge. Thank you for loving me and for giving me the opportunity to gush forth my love to you.

sincerely,
ashley

Comments:

Sadly I am still skeptical about others loving me, much to my own surprise too. I feel like I should be beyond such blatant self doubt and vulnerability. It doesn't happen much but I so still get this overwhelming panic that sharing loving space with someone is almost too good to be true and my mind runs rampant with thoughts that make me contract and feel like I am drowning in doubt.

However, the experience of being truly seen and loved is something beyond expression; once the panic and clinging subside. I find being free of attachment and just wallowing in the love that is all around me to be one of the biggest reasons that I choose to stay in a body. I spent so much time contracted around such things, rejecting the sentimentality to the point that I wondered if anything like true love really existed. I hate it when I waste time buying into that fear, I miss so much yumminess that way.

Loving you is a very rewarding experience Ashley Cooper. You make my heart well up with love and pride. Thank you for being one of the reasons I live my life with my heart wide open.


GravatarDear Ash, You are kinda like the anthesis of a black hole. Hmmmm...a white whole? Don't know where I am going with that; part of me is tired and I don't want to struggle for words. Just feeling the space between your words, the pure white light, sparkles and dancing, filling and penetrating. I like to share this space that is made and offered up for the taking. I am so grateful for your unique way of offering it, Ashley!!! I need to bring my darkness too but the beautiful thing is that this is OK!

It is so easy to find myself in the dark part of existence (can I stand the grief and loss of another ending? What will I do with my life? Where will I go? Do I belong anywhere? Can I survive? What do I have to offer? What is wrong with me that I find myself here again?, Will I be rejected because of this pain I feel?). This ability to be able to find and see the darkness in itself is a great gift. The light shining on it allows me to KNOW it, perhaps even extend LOVE to it. I keep shining light on it, allow others to shine their light on it when I have lost my way, light penetrating my defenses, my contractions, feel the reaching outward, the accompanying fear and be aware of light shining on that too.

How do I keep the light on those I love at the times when I can't feel that acceptance, appreciation and love comeing back? How do I contract and give the same lack of acceptance in return? Does it really matter who started it? NO!!! Opening in the face of this is the biggest challenge. Intimate love with a partner sure adds a whole other dimension of trickiness for me; the darkness gets a little thicker, more foggy and so much is obscured, my light is hard to find, hard to trust. And we all know one can't hold onto light. All I can do is allow it in the best ways I know how, pray for it, invite it, acknowledge it and express my gratitude. Bow deeply to all of it.


GravatarFor me Ashley, i was once a victim of hurt and pain associated with relationships. no matter how much i trusted, the inevitable always seemed to happen in that i was the one cast away and left. its weird i became so used to it that i began accepting it, like i deserved it. UNTIL i met my husband, my knight in shinning armour who accepted the love i had to offer, it took a while for me to relaxe and forget the feeling of failure and that it was sure to happen. in away the continued brokeness was away of accepting pain,sadness,suffering,from our relationship i have been able to show my love and love for others (especially my family) i wonder sometimes what this life would be like without love, how empty, for love to me is the most powerful feeling humans possess and i do beleive we could survive without other feelings such as anger and frustration,but we could not without love, yet how much it is abused and laughed at. from my relationship with my husband i have nurtured and let grow and express the very essence of human existence,LOVE!
ashley,when i read your posts they fill my spirit and light up my world, thank you for that.
i miss you!
with love,maria


Gravatarleela, mary, and maria...

i am so touched by the depth and honesty of your sharing here. it is quite remarkable to me that it is possible to create "safe" spaces within the internet for vulnerability and genuine heart sharing. it is such an honor to feel that flavor at easily amazed. i feel like it's such a gift to be a part of this network with you all.

Mary, i'm so glad you know not to struggle for the words to use here. that you know that your light and darkness is embraced and accepted here. that you continuously, both when connected to your light and your darkness, reflect such luminous light. all of you, for that matter, that participate here are so incredibly reflective that i am continuously in awe!

leela, if you feel like sharing more, i'd love to hear some other reasons why you live your life with your heart wide open. and ways in which you do that. i'm always trying to deepen my practice (grin).

and maria, i give thanks to kyle and you for re-opening yourself and letting that precious love flow gracefully into the world. oh, the countless hearts that it touches.

love to you all,

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posted by ashley

Overcome with blessings

My granddaughter Abby recently turned two. I stopped by to visit her tonight. She took me by the hand, leading me to sit on the living room floor next to her mom. She then began skipping and galloping in circles around her mother and I, singing and shouting whatever came into her mind. (free association- toddler style) Her arms were sometimes flailing, sometimes doing a chicken dance. Her face was excuberant. Her body aligned with the union of her heart and soul. She is innocence and celestial beauty, joy and love.

Each of us possesses this authentic beauty , although it is sometimes concealed. For example, defenses help to protect us from pain, but they may also diminish the joy of living fully and completely. Socialization teaches us etiquette, but if we are not vigilant, we are in danger of slipping into a persona.

Today I resolve to pull away one more layer of my earthly defense, and celebrate life a little fuller; boldly letting go of earthly pretenses, immersing my soul in God's creation of humanness. I will open my arms to all dimensions of being.


To Abby: Thank you for modeling lessons on living. Love, Nana

Comments:

first of all, patti, i must again say how i love the poetic flow of your words... free-association toddler style had me busting rhymes and rhythms as i read the rest of your post!

"Her body aligned with the union of her heart and soul."

I wonder how you (we) know this when we see it. What are some of the clues that tune us into the fact that someone's body is aligned with the union of their heart and soul? (anyone can answer this!)

"defenses help to protect us from pain, but they may also diminish the joy of living fully and completely. "

isn't it interesting also how those very same defenses were probably completely necessary in order to protect us from external sources of pain at some previous point in our lives. how we become ingrained in the habit of depending on those defenses even when the threats no longer exist, or when we are now strong enough to to face such threats on our own (living fully and completely) and not dependent on those old habits.

and OH MY, patti. your intentions set in this post are amazing. please keep us updated on what unfurls from the peeling away of one more of those layers, from your courageous action of letting go, and the enticing drive to immerse your soul in God's creation of humanness. let us know about the textures and flavors of the new dimensions of being that pop out and become just that much more visible to you.

thank you abby and nana, for showing us how to be a teacher and a student.

with love,


Gravatarsweetest is the innocence of a child, to abe to freely express at all times what they are feeling. no fear or shame of thoughts of others, oh how i wish to be sooo free. from your post dear patti i too choose to remove a guilt layer , hmm! guilt just popped into my head, yes remove the guilt is what i tend to acheive. it reminds me of the day i was walking in the mall with jared and zoe. "come on mom skip with us" i hesitated, looking around to see who was watching, feeling ashamed, then accepting how i felt, off i went skipping along, having a wonderfull time with my kids. "skip backwards" they told me, so i turned around and skipped backwards, the kids and i were laughing and having soo much fun, enjoying life! everyone around faded away, treasured moments that will NEVER fade!
thank you abby and nana for reinforcing my desire to be free!
love maria.

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posted by Patti

1.06.2005

Paper Towel Purse

A purse made out of paper towels was left in my office mailbox. No name, just a precious gift from a child. It wasn't necessary to receive recognition for making the gift. It was given with a pure heart. I have purchased a shadow box for the purse and will proudly display the purse in my office with the following poem. For those of you who have been blessed to see a child's heart:

Anonymous giver, follower of heart,
Treasure of imagination, creativity untaught,
Soul is your voice, voice is your soul,
Healing hands work as inner light unfolds,
Dancer of wonder, spirit pure light,
Silent love prints, heaven on earth's delight.

Comments:

Oh Patti!
How precious,scrumptious,simply divine is your poem! I must have read it 5 times. Why is it that kids can simply melt me away and take me to a place where i feel wonderfully safe! where i can join my heart with theirs!

thank you! sweet patti!
with love,maria


Gravatarpatti,

i join maria in praise and delight of your poem... i had no idea you were such a poet. i know you have a poet's soul, it's so beautiful to see it expressed in words.

it makes me wonder about the many ways and opportunities that we have to anonymously give... all that we can give... anyone want to share an anonymous way of giving that tempts your soul? makes me think of corrigan and his daughter and the rocks they scatter about through their lives... are you out there, chris?

much love to you, patti, and gratitude for sharing here.

sincerely,

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posted by Patti

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