Saturday, December 31, 2011

Present for the New Year

December is my favorite time of year, but this month has been different.  I'm struggling through a period of immense personal growth, physical and emotional.  It isn't easy, and finding the motivation to do anything has been a challenge.  I can't even seem to get "in the zone" to write.  I'm forcing myself today, even though this post might not be up to my standards, because I want to state an intention for the new year.

A friend of mine has a New Year's tradition.  Instead of making a resolution, he chooses one word to represent his intention for the coming year.  One word.  The idea immediately resonated with me.  It sounded easy, until I actually sat down to attempt it.  So many areas need attention, how could I narrow it down to just one? 

Focus definitely applied.  So did organization.  And peace, relax, forgive, etc etc.  I finally chose the word that kept popping up continually in my reiki sessions and meditation.  The word that I have struggled with all year, and probably for a lifetime.  The word that eludes me, causing me to miss the little things in life because I am so focused on the big things.  The word is present.

Present, not as in a gift, but present to this very moment.  The most challenging word I could pick to focus on, and the one with the greatest rate of return if I can manage it (No, when I manage it.)  The mind cannot be in two places at once, and I am missing considerable information in the present by allowing my mind to travel to a future date.  By focusing on the present, I am giving myself the gift of valuable insight for a future event.

Yesterday I realized what an enormous undertaking it would be for me to stay present.  I was having a combination reiki/massage session.  As I lay on the massage table, my monkey mind time traveled to exhaustion.  What time would I pick up my son, would I have time to prepare for our NYE party, when would I pack for work the next day, when was my appointment at the end of the month, what was I going to do about giving reiki in February.  Each time I found my mind wandering from the present, I gently nudged it back.  And within a few minutes it was off having another adventure in the future.

Staying present may be one of the hardest New Year's resolutions I have ever attempted.  Daily exercise or giving up chocolate seem easy compared to this.  It will take practice, but I know I can do it.  This is what I need, and I am listening.  May your New Year be filled with love, peace, prosperity, and a word just challenging enough to help you grow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice

Winter Solstice.  The shortest day of the year.  A time to go within, take stock, set intentions.

Is it ironic that the time of year we should be turning inward, focusing on ourselves, being gentle, is the most frantic, hectic, commitment laden time of the year?  The commercialization of the season has really bothered me this year.  I'm trying to shift gears, to find out what is really important, and do away with that which has no meaning.  Are Christmas cards really that important to me, or can I let go of the need to show everyone how much my son has grown?  Do I really need to buy meaningless gifts for everyone, or is a thought or kind word enough? (The gift recipients may disagree, which poses a dilemma).  Am I better off spending my time pulling my hair out at a mall, or spending time doing things that nourish my soul?  That last question has fueled my spiritual growth in immense ways today.

I have to make one last trip to the mall before Christmas, and I have procrastinated until what feels like the last minute.  I had planned to do this today, as I can't stand to have it hanging over my head any longer.  But something is telling me today is not the day to go to the mall.  Today is the day to celebrate the solstice, the return of the sun.  To get my house in order, make myself comfortable, cozy, nourished, instead of frazzled, disgusted, and surrounded by negative energy.

The weight of everything I "should" be doing right now is weighing on me.  I'm trying hard not to feel like I've wasted the morning.  Taking the time to write this blog, which felt so right when I sat down to do it, now feels like a waste of time.  My ego is screaming at me to get up and do something useful, but my soul has me glued to the chair to finish what I started.  To finish my "self care", which in the past has felt very "selfish" (and still does if I am honest).  To do what needs to be done on this day where the light begins to return, the days get longer, and growth begins again.

Monday, December 19, 2011


An animal hibernates to conserve energy during times of scarcity or stress.  An essential phase of life - a gift that ensures survival.  I have spent the last month in hibernation.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize it until two days ago.  Rather than considering it a gift, it has been a great source of anxiety.  My brain fog, lack of motivation, and inability to accomplish much of anything has all been a great source of frustration.  Instead of embracing my hibernation as a period of renewal and growth, I have done everything in my power to avoid this period of slowing down and going within.  This period so essential to my survival.

I have prayed and bargained with God.  I have been extremely critical of myself, wondering what could be wrong with me because I can't seem to get anything done.  One step forward, two steps back - again and again and again.  I have sought many outside references for relief.  MD's for physical conditions, life coaches for spiritual solutions, always looking outside of myself for the answers.  But the answers have been right here all along.  After a reiki healing attunement on Saturday, I finally opened my eyes to the truth.

I don't need anyone else to heal myself.  I have all the answers I need within.  I keep praying to God to help me find someone to "fix" my problems, and he has, but I haven't been listening.  I AM the solution to my problems.  I have the key to unlock my restlessness.  This period of hibernation has been forced upon me to make me slow down and see.  See the steps I need to take(not the ones I think I need to take), see the growth that needs to happen before I can rocket forward.  Embrace the changes that are happening in a gradual way, I am the only one rushing myself.  I need this time to incubate. To rest, recharge, and renew, so when the time comes to emerge from my cave I am prepared.  Prepared for the new direction my life is about to take.

I know what I need to nourish my body, but I haven't been listening.  I eat things I know I shouldn't.  I ignore the pleas to stretch and strengthen thru yoga.  I find it more important to accomplish one more task than to sit and quiet my mind in mediation.  I am over scheduled and over-worried and I've done it all to myself.  I am the only one that can undo it.  I'm the only one that can make it better.

I've been searching for a guru, and the guru has been right here all along.  Now it's time to listen.  I had a million things I wanted to get done this week, but I am giving myself an early Christmas gift.  I'm not going to do anything I feel I "should" do, only what I want to do.  A tall order, being that I have so much left to accomplish before Saturday.  I've been ignoring myself and my needs for far too long, and I deserve this.  How perfect, the best Christmas gift, given to myself.  

I will not say a harsh word to myself all week.  I will not force events to go a certain way, but sit back and let them unfold as they should.  I will rest, relax, and enjoy this beautiful world and this beautiful life I am blessed to be living.  And most of all, I will believe.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I See The Moon And The Moon Sees Me

As I padded downstairs at 5 AM, I wondered if I had left a light on in the kitchen.  Turning the corner I realized that it was the full moon illuminating the entire backyard.  I was ecstatic, because the only reason I was up so early was to attempt to see part of the eclipse.  As I live on the east coast, I knew it was unlikely.  But the thought had me out of bed anyway, instead of sound asleep nursing my cold.

The full moon is considered by many to be a time for setting new intentions.  The last month has been a challenge for me, and I intended to signal (to myself and the universe) that I was ready to shift into high gear and move forward.

After spending half an hour admiring the moon thru the window, I decided to brave the frigid morning air and sneak outside. I had an overwhelming desire to stand out in the moonlight, without a house or window blocking the magical glow.  As I walked out the door after bundling up, I was shocked to see a line of clouds inching towards the moon.  The sky had been completely clear moments ago, and I was thankful I hadn't delayed 5 minutes longer.  I quickly stated my intentions.

"I release anything that no longer serves my highest good.  I am at peace, relaxed, happy, healthy, and calm.  I have all the time I need.  I release the need for control, including the illusion of controlling time.  By being all of who I am, I move forward joyfully with grace and ease (my current mission statement).  I am willing to go where my intuition guides me, and let everything that is unnecessary fall away."

That's all I managed to say before the clouds engulfed the moon.  The moon fought valiantly, shining thru the clouds for longer than I would have thought possible.

It's almost surreal as I sit here typing this 20 minutes later.  The darkness is so dense, I can't even see past the window.  Even though I watched it happen, I'm still sitting here with my mouth open.  I can't get my mind around the fact that the world went from daylight to darkness at 5:30 am.  I guess we'll call it the east coast eclipse.  I'm just thankful I was up early enough to witness it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When Worlds Collide

Until recently, I have kept a strict separation between my work as a reiki master and my job as a pilot.  I rarely talked about reiki at work.  I assumed (and you know what they say about assuming)  that most people either wouldn't be interested, or that they wouldn't understand.  A majority of the people I work with are very traditional in their mindsets and values.  I worried about being judged because I was doing something "different."  As much as I feared being "found out," I was causing myself more pain by trying to hide the activities and spiritual pursuits I was most passionate about.

Last month I flew with a co-worker who was very stressed out.  I intuitively felt that receiving reiki could comfort her and calm her down.  When we arrived at our hotel, I offered to give her reiki.  Since that day, I haven't tried to hide what I do regarding reiki and my holistic lifestyle.  My last trip, I gave my Captain some nutrition suggestions which he followed up on almost immediately.

My entire life I have tried to blend in with the crowd.  I have always felt that being different was unsafe, that I was setting myself up for ridicule.  I kept my head down and my mouth shut. Always quick to assume that someone's reaction to me would be negative, never considering it could just as likely be positive.

I've missed many opportunities to help people, because I've been afraid to open my mouth for fear of being judged.  I guess that's the shadow at work again, and I still have some work to do on being judgmental.  But I think I'm done hiding who I am.  My avocation is becoming my vocation, and it's getting harder to separate my titles of Pilot and Reiki Master.  My worlds are colliding, and after much resistance on my part, I'm finally ready to embrace the change.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Karyn's On Green

Chorizo sliders.  Crab sliders.  Butternut squash soup.  Kale slaw.  Buffalo chicken wrap.  That was my dinner last Friday night, and it was all vegan.

Although I have been a vegetarian for over ten years, when someone mentions being a vegan I find it hard to imagine what they eat every day.  (For those of you that might not know, a vegan does not eat anything that comes from an animal, while a vegetarian may eat dairy and eggs).  After a delicious meal at Karyn's on Green in Chicago, I think I could be converted.

From the window the restaurant looks like any other upscale Chicago eatery.  My favorite vegetarian restaurant in Pittsburgh has a much different vibe (which I love), but you can tell from the window that it isn't a meat and potato kind of place.  My carnivorous friends felt right at home at Karyn's, and they were as pleasantly surprised with the food as I was.  We were planning a return trip before we even walked out the door.

After watching the movie "Forks Over Knives," I have been considering a move towards a vegan lifestyle. I am also considering taking an e-Cornell class on plant based nutrition.  The course will not only teach me about plant based nutrition, but also how to discuss nutrition in a non judgmental way.  As I'm finding out, food is a hot button topic with some people.  Even though I'm not trying to convert anyone to veganism (how can I when I haven't myself), I'm finding many people don't even want to discuss the topic.

To do this the right way I will be spending a lot more time cooking, and I must admit that feels a little daunting.  I just need to start looking at cooking as a hobby or a family activity instead of a chore.  I just can't wait until my son is old enough to use a knife.  I need some help chopping all of those vegetables.

Wood For Dinner? No Thank You - EDITED AND REPUBLISHED

Below is my original post from 11/28/11
Rant alert.

I'm not even sure what to say about this article.  Our friendly FDA, out to protect us.  There is a push to have vitamin supplements only available by a doctor's prescription, but it's ok to eat wood?  I think I'd rather have less fiber.  Last time I checked, I wasn't a beaver.

15 Food Companies that Serve You "Wood"

If anyone has a counterargument or good side to this article, I would love to hear it.  Hopefully, I'm overreacting.

Rant over.

Dec. 3, 2011 edit

Well, I guess there is no question regarding how I feel about the FDA.  The question is, why did I have to push my views on you, the reader?  Why didn't I just say, "Here's an interesting article, see what you think?"  It didn't feel quite right to publish that post, and I'm sure it didn't feel great to read it either.

While reading "Ensouling Language, on the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer's Life," by Stephen Harrod Buhner tonight, a chapter caused me to rethink this post, along with many other aspects of my writing.
Buhner writes, "We all have hidden baggage inside us, unexamined beliefs, attitudes, and orientations of mind we have internalized...  Discovering, understanding, and deciding what to do about that hidden baggage is an inescapable part of our maturing.... Everything that you have not self-examined will eventually show up in your work...."

It's quite obvious I have some beliefs and attitudes showing up in the work begging to be examined.  Which led me to the question, "Why am I writing in the first place?"  The answer I came up with - "To help people be happy and healthy."  By doing what?  Conforming to what I think is the only way to be happy and healthy?  I'm not even so happy or healthy myself right now (another post), so how can I help someone else if I can't help myself?

It was with that question that it all fell into place.  I'm writing to help me.  To examine my hidden baggage, my judgements, my ego.  My attitude that I know what's best for everyone.  One side effect of my continued spiritual growth has been my increasingly quick urge to judge people.  Self reflection is definitely required to address that unwanted aspect of myself, as well as my feelings about issues that really fire me up, like the FDA.

Until I take care of some of this baggage, I will never be able to write in an unbiased manner. Writing to help myself grow and evolve feels selfish, but it is the only way I can move forward and eventually help others.  I will never be able to help anyone else, which I so desperately want to do, until I help myself.  I've said that over and over, and I think I am finally starting to understand.