An Invitation

You can create a life you love… right here, right now.

You’re going to work with the raw material of your life… exactly as it is.

Start with a willingness to practice creating moments of
Peace, Joy, Empowerment, And love… in each day.

What would that look like?
What is peace? Joy? Empowerment? Love?
How does one live those qualities?

Peace is a deep inner quiet we each have within us, that can be accessed anywhere, any
time, by briefly pausing, breathing deeply and allowing one’s self to be still.

Joy is the exuberant feeling that comes from being aware and awake to the small miracles
and wonder of life in each moment.

Empowerment is recognizing one’s ability to take action, and taking action.

Love is making a choice in this moment to support one’s divine potential or that of
another with kindness and compassion. Love is not an adjective, it is a verb.

You can create a life you love by bringing these qualities to the circumstances of your life
as they are now. All you need is a sincere “yes” to yourself… and a daybook…

A daybook can be on your phone, I-pad, computer. It can be a big beautiful journal or a
little notepad that can be carried easily in a pocket or purse. It can be a graphic journal
where you draw instead of write.

Each day just take a moment to record:

When today did I create a moment of peace?
When today did I create a moment of joy?
When today did I create a moment of empowerment?
When today did I create a moment of love?

As you begin doing this right here, right now… your life will change and you will begin
creating a life you love.

Posts made in December, 2012

The Banquet of Life

The Banquet of Life

What if we moved from the narrow margins of our lives, to a landscape of possibility?

Each of us has a relationship with life. And often it is a relationship of waiting . . . waiting until . . . we have more free time . . . the baby can walk . . . the kids are in school . . . we can quit our job. . we can get a job. . .

And then, we will be content. And then, everything will be alright.

There’s always an excuse for not coming to the banquet!

But we don’t have to wait. Whatever the current condition of our lives, the banquet is right here, right now. And there is a place set for us at the table.

banquetWhatever our circumstances we can experience peace, joy, empowerment and love. We have that ability in us. And life is rich with the possibility of a feast for our senses if we will just show up with presence, attention, and deliberate choice.

We can begin now to live what we love.

We do this by changing our story about how life is supposed to be. We do this by noticing now what inspires us and putting a serving of that on our plates.

Years ago I worked with a woman who had suffered a profound loss in her life, the suicide of someone in her immediate family. When she came to my office, two years after the death, she was numb, calcified, and immune to any joy in life. It was completely understandable. As she recounted the unfolding of this tragedy, tears flowed down both of our faces.

Our work together was slow and painstaking. I was assisting her to gradually change her relationship with the tragedy in such a way that she could give herself permission to take her place at the banquet of life once more.

It required allowing her heart to be unfettered by pouring out its grief; it required self-forgiveness and forgiveness of other; and most importantly it involved trusting that even something so devastating could be embraced as one of life’s teachers. It required surrender and trusting the mysteries of life — knowing that many things are outside of our control and that something larger than what we can see is always happening.

The new narrative that was authored by this courageous client provided a new view about self, about life, and about the choices that we can allow ourselves.

Allow the client did! She picked up a guitar she hadn’t touched in years and began to play. She gave herself permission to date and went dancing. The shifts were simple, but life changing. By starting in the narrow margins of her life, she gradually began to author a new narrative of possibility in dealing with what life had handed her.

Too often we give our power away to the adversity of our lives; to the difficult people who are part of our circle; to current circumstances that indeed feel limiting. But what we focus on expands. A positive shift is possible with the slightest adjustments.

It could be as simple as giving ourselves an extra 30 minutes a day either in the morning, on our lunch hour, or at night to offer ourselves a serving of that something we have been craving – to start a graphic journal, go for a swim in the lake at sundown, drive to Swan Valley for a square ice cream cone, pen a few lines of a poem, pick a bouquet, have a meaningful conversation, read a few pages of a favorite book, turn the television off and dance.

Contemplate these questions:

What would it mean for you to say yes to life?

What would it mean to allow yourself to take your place at the banquet of life?

What unresolved emotions, limiting beliefs, or excuses get in the way?

What would you like more of in life?

What would you like less of?

Even as we just begin to contemplate these questions, we are starting the work/play of expanding our life’s margins. The shift begins within: in our thoughts, our hearts, our inner framework, and our choices. Accepting that it is our birthright to have a joyful, abundant life is the first step towards seeing the banquet that is spread before us now. This banquet does not exclude pain, or trials, or the mundane, but rather incorporates them as bitter and sour flavors that add spice to the meal and ultimately nourish us. We do not want to eat an entire meal of dessert. As we change our perception of whatever we are experiencing or feeling right now, we begin to cultivate a peace that transcends context, and abides like a hearth within.

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Join me here next week we for an exploration of “the lost self,”or in other words the ways in which we give away our power.

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Rose Allred

Rose Allred

Today’s “She Creates” article is written by the youngest of our six daughters.  Both she and her sister Annie, the oldest of our daughters, were born on Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice.  Rose, the youngest, was delivered at home close to the Christmas tree by two midwives.  She was greeted by her father and five sisters. Annie, who was 12, cut the cord and held her soon after!

Today, in my bliss, I find myself sitting quietly on the couch of my cabin, next to a tranquil pond on Vashon Island, Washington. My whole body is humming with praise to my most recently self-created meal: handmade pumpkin sage ravioli with a sage and onion béchamel sauce.

I am an Artisan Cheese Maker and Dairy Manager working at a small organic dairy and meat farm here on the Island. Today, Dec. 21, 2012, is my birthday. I am 22.

My love of food sprung unexpectedly from a New Year’s resolution when I was 20. To protect the earth, I did not buy plastic for an entire year. Thus, I had to learn how to make most of my food by scratch, since most food came in some sort of plastic case. I started spending all my free time cooking.

I was living with my parents just outside of Portland, Oregon, where I was studying jazz music as a vocalist. I was floating in the vague mist of past high-school and pre-career confusion. I decided to move to Seattle and transfer to a school with a better jazz program.

I showed up in Seattle, Washington the first weekend of August, jobless and homeless. As I bused to the University district of Seattle, where a distant friend offered a stay on her couch, I noticed a sign reading, “U-district Farmers Market, year round, Sat. 9-2.” With my new found passion for cooking, the sign felt like a call. The new moon that night felt symbolic for the start of my new life in Seattle.

The next morning, I awoke early filled with anticipation. As I walked down the street to the U-district Farmer’s Market a perfect chill accompanied the rising sun. Once in the market I saw a brilliant golden ray of sun illuminating piles of handmade wheels of cheese. I was so hungry for cheese; I had not eaten it for eight months because I could not find any that was not packaged in plastic. I beamed with joy at this precious site – ivory cheese standing there, in its natural earthy casing, the rind, intact. I immediately asked for a sample! The bliss of that first bite after eight long cheese-less months, satiated something deep within me.

The farmer and his employee at the Sea Breeze Farm stand were friendly and curious about me. I felt like a child discovering the newness of life again. They invited me to dine at their restaurant, La Boucherie, on Vashon Island that evening. I think they were surprised by my immediate acceptance of their invitation. After buying some cherry walnut bread from Alex the bread guy, I left and caught a bus to the Fauntleroy Ferry terminal, where I boarded the ferry to
Vashon.

I grabbed a booth overlooking the water. The beautiful Puget Sound glistened under the august sun as the ferry started to move. I sliced into the ivory cheese and broke the caramel colored bread. Right as I did the owner of the farm and his employee, who helped me at the market earlier in the day, walked by. I stopped them to say hello and told them I was heading to their restaurant. I invited them to eat with me. They were starving, so they accepted. We spoke as we ate, and once we docked on the island we kept talking. They invited me to see the farm, something highly unusual. As we walked up the steep hills of the island we talked, picked wild blackberries, and admired the magical Madrona trees with their rust trunks marked with lime green blotches.

The farm rested on a knoll overlooking the Sound. Beautiful shiny coated cattle roamed the green farm pastures, feasting on fresh green grass. After my tour, I headed to the island’s main highway to hitch a ride into town to go to the restaurant. I was thumbing and walking for about 20 minutes with no success, the traffic was slow. I even had time between cars to stop at a garage sale and sing a jazz tune in exchange for some old dishes. Finally, someone stopped. It was a large Isuzu refrigerated box truck, I looked inside, and like a mirror to mine, I greeted two surprised faces, “It’s you again?!”

So, for the third and serendipitous time, I saw the farm owner and employee, and they drove me to their restaurant. I enjoyed a fresh tomato and pork curry dish with a transcendent tall glass of fresh raw cow’s milk, the same milk that came from the cows I just met, who were grazing on the pasture I just saw, whose milk was made into the same cheese I had just eaten and enjoyed on the ferry and at the farmers market. The farmer’s market being the first place I went and first thing I did, when I set foot in Seattle, and started my new life.

I continued to shop at the Sea Breeze Farm stand at the market while I attended school. After a semester I decided to stop and to devote my life to food. Soon after that I started working at the Sea Breeze Farm stand. That led to an invitation to intern as the cheese maker at the farm. Eventually I became the dairy manager and artisan cheese maker, making the very same cheese that welcomed me to Seattle several months before. Now I sing to the cheese.

It was not an accident that I am where I am at now. My mother has always said, let the current of your life carry you, don’t fight against it. That’s what I did.

By following my passions and showing up to the opportunities of life I became the artisan cheese maker. This is my experience in creating a life I love.

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The Story of the Stillness

The Story of the Stillness

A few years back I received an invitation to “be still.”

Stop rushing. Stop striving. Stop grasping.

Slow down. Pause. Breathe. Look. Listen. See.

The invitation came to me in the foggy silver stillness of late December in the Northwest. The wrapping paper had been recycled, gifts were resting in the backs of drawers, and ornaments tucked away in the darkness of the attic. The anticipation of the vast expanse of another year was present.

It couldn’t have been a more incongruent time to consider being still, or so I thought.
I was in my first year of graduate school. Each week consisted of numerous pages of reading, a couple of papers to write, research to, do and usually a project in process.

The mother of six daughters – four still living at home, I was needed to help with homework; give rides to sports and lessons; offer a listening ear; and most importantly, to be present to them — not thinking about my presentation on Carl Jung or passing a research methods exam.

There was also the upkeep of the home – keeping the pantry full, the laundry done, a basic semblance of order.

I couldn’t imagine when or even where I could possibly be still. I was already living my life on fast forward in a desperate attempt to cram everything that needed to be done into what seemed like never enough time. I experienced extreme time poverty.

Perhaps I needed stillness more than I ever had needed anything in my life.

004I was 48 years old at the time and I had set goals every year of my life since I was 11. The invitation came on a winter day as I drove across the Columbia River from Washington to Oregon to do some shopping. The tall evergreens on the Washington side were draped in a gauzy shroud of gray fog. As I approached the long silver ribbon of the bridge, I found myself in deep contemplation. Alone in the stillness of the car, a distinct, clear, and strong impression came to me: “Don’t set goals this year.”

I was curious about this, but might have dismissed it except that I recognized it as an invitation from both the core of my soul and from the Divine as I understand it. The message continued and was completed with a verse from Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” The directive was to contemplate this scriptural phrase for the next year and to in fact practice being still.

I felt a swell of relief upon receiving this rather random guidance. I teared up at the thought of perhaps setting down the ongoing burden I bore as a woman navigating the treacherous terrain of parenting, marriage, running a household, and school.

My life thus far had taught me many important lessons about surrendering, releasing control, trusting both the Divine and myself. But somewhere in the blur I called my life, I had forgotten these lessons.

And so I whispered my answer, a hallowed “yes.”

What happened in my life during the year of stillness was miraculous. I was able to complete my degree in two years instead of three. Home life was held together adequately. And despite being in school I was able to be there for my daughters whether it was attending soccer games and music concerts or planning a graduation celebration. Most importantly I felt peace and a new trust in life and myself.

I don’t have an explanation for what I was somehow able to accomplish that year. I can’t tell you how what happened, happened. I can only tell you why. I had paid strict heed to the call to cultivate inner stillness in the midst of myriad responsibilities. As I did, I was taught volumes about letting go in the rapidly moving current of my life. My job was to allow – allow myself to be carried, trust what I couldn’t see and to enter life’s flow. Of course I had to show up and row, but something else was clearly guiding the boat, controlling the current of the water. My job was not to row against that current. How interesting that I had received the invitation to stillness as I was driving across a river.

I did not adopt a formal meditation practice. Instead I just began the simple practice of taking regular moments throughout every day to pause, to be still. I would withdraw from the humming technical sound of modern life – the beeps and rings of cell phones, and laptops — and the overwhelming feeling of urgency that accompanies life now. When I retreated into myself I found a peaceful place deep within me. I would clear my mind of thought by focusing my attention on the miracle of my own breath continuing to flow in and out of my body endlessly, without ceasing, without thought or assistance from me – yet sustaining my life.

In that place, there was no big problem to solve, no mess to clean up, no plan to be hatched, no ax to grind. I didn’t have to be anywhere. I didn’t have to do anything. I could just be, just come home to my true self, my soul, and to the precious vessel for the soul – my body. I could be in a noisy classroom, but look out the window and while sitting there at my desk, leave to enter a place where those trees, that sky, this breath were all there was for a few eternal minutes.

In that stillness I found rest. I found comfort. I found surrender. The soil of my soul was tilled until it was open for direction, hard work, and assistance from the Divine. I found stillness in my car, in a grocery store line, while waiting for gas or a red light, or by taking a moment to smell the fresh scent of morning, or gaze at the bright twinkle of the big dipper in the night sky. I have continued ever since.

I was taught to replace striving with trust; busyness with presence; and distraction with focus.

And by regularly stepping away from it all, creative powers emerged in life: The ability to find hidden time and to receive fresh ideas or specific direction.

There were no goals set during that year. I used a planner, but only as a supplementary tool. I was living from my soul, from the stillness, instead of the tyranny of the urgent. Though I was busy, in ways life began to feel effortless. I simply had to be present to each task, one at a time. I discovered the beauty of moving from managing my life, to creating life, a life I loved. I came to realize I have a “relationship with life” and that as I changed how I related to the events, tasks, demands, and challenges of life, life changed for the better. I was learning what every creator knows – that inspiration comes from beyond us. Creation is always a collaboration.

I had found peace and I had refound the Divine in the most personal of ways. This is not a fairy tale, there was no happily ever after, life and its challenges still come at me daily, the transmission in my car went out the day after graduation. Menopause soon followed! But it didn’t matter because I was slowly coming to embrace the understanding that both suffering and joy are part of the same whole. I began to drop my judgment about how I thought life should be and started trusting life as it is.

We experience peace, joy, empowerment, and love in our daily lives as we set aside an adversarial relationship with ourselves, our time, and our lives.

How?

We choose to . . .

Trust our lives, Trust time

Trust ourselves . . . Trust the Divine

“Not so easy,” one might say. How does one trust?

By living from . . .

Our souls, versus our egos.

Our voice, versus the noise.

Our truth versus the false beliefs we’ve acquired along our journey.

And we begin this path by entering the stillness within, every day.

Copyright 2012, not to be used without permission.

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