Where I Put My Energy

If I were to divide my day into percentages of where I put my energy, I might sound like a maid or a cook on the weekends, and I’d be a receptionist/admin during the week.  That’s what is real for me right now.  I have a family of six to tend to and a full-time job come weekdays.

It’s the other moments, though, that I have a choice over how to spend my energy.  Some things have to be done, but I also have an inner child to indulge, a gift to cultivate, a calling to follow.  Some things can’t be ignored.

So on snow days like this, I give thanks that I have the opportunity to catch up on laundry and housework, making sure the children are bathing.  During last week’s snow days, I got caught up on some (not all) of my volunteer tasks.

I’ve also been doing some of the other things, the things I do for me.  Like reading.  Blogging.  Cleaning up and clearing out some things that have been cluttered.  Spending time with husband.  Did I mention reading?  Reading is a stimulus to me to write.  I even chose not to finish a book because it wasn’t doing anything for me.  I even got rid of half of my fabric stash because I don’t have time to create several pieced quilts.  My time is precious.  Every moment counts.  Do the things I surround myself with contribute to a positive energy?  Do I spend my time and energy wisely?

If I looked at my “free” time, did I spend it writing or cultivating my writing craft?  If not, then can I honestly call myself a writer?  This is no small pondering; this is serious.

Leave it to almost two feet of snow to cave me in with my thoughts and the freedom to choose how I will spend the day and night.  Who will I choose to be in any given moment?

Where do you put your energy, and what does it say about you?

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Spring Break

I knew I should have brought out my camera on Friday, capturing the images of the shining daffodils and the amazing blossoms on a neighbor’s tulip tree.  Everything, including all the people I saw, seemed to follow the sun, soaking up the warmth and energy.  That night after all the kids were in bed, I sat by the outdoor fire that had toasted hot dogs and marshmallows so dutifully, feeling the wind and watching the moon and stars slowly disappear behind the clouds.  The forecast had promised snow the next day.  Could it be?

The next morning, the cinders had been extinguished by the rain that came.  I left for my Quiet Day in the continued drizzle and slightly above freezing temperatures — only 35 degrees below yesterday’s.  On my way home, after spending my day amidst lovely souls and the glowing of Spirit made manifest, the wintry mix began, then the snow.  Big flakes for this our Spring Equinox.

But the warmth of our busy kitchen and fireplace that night prevented any chill.  Homemade manicotti and at least an attempt at a new tiramisu recipe (I called it tirami-soup and wasn’t a fan). Our tummies were full, indeed!  And then we settled in for our snow day and the beginning of the kids’ Spring Break.

This week will be full of its own challenges.  After my already askew morning routine, I get to take the kids grocery shopping.  At least three eating times a day for six that feels like 10.  I’m getting a preview for this summer.  I read something last night that rang in my ears — several something’s in fact.  Excerpts from Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Wisdom Way of Knowing . . .

“We stand midway between the purely material and the purely energetic, with a full range of versatility in both.” (p. 54)

“. . . where we are is exactly where we belong and that our real purpose in the cosmos is fulfilled in the way that we move back and forth between these two planes of existence.” (p.54)

“Working within the raw materials of the physical world, we are to give ‘birthing’ and ‘body’ to the names of God so that the invisible becomes visible. We are midwives of the Spirit.” (p.55)

The book continues on, giving voice to so many of my thoughts and experiences.  Yes!  Someone else gets the same messages as me and has already traced routes through other traditions, found links and lineages.  I read on about surrender, letting go.

I rest assured that I am where I am supposed to be.  Mothers are surely a mirror through which God sees God’s self.  In other aspects, too, I have a responsibility to the energy I project, reflect, and participate in.

The sun is now melting the snow outside, leaving the ground a muddy mess, fertile, and full of possibilities.

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Restoring Balance

It’s about that time.  The school supplies are purchased.  The laundry is clean.  Summer vacation is wrapped up in memories as early bedtime has resumed.   The kids are sleeping soundly, though I’m sure the anxiety for the first day of school (coming on Wednesday) is coursing through their veins.

I am quite certain I’m not the only mom feeling frazzled.   These last couple of weeks of vacation, I did put my best foot forward to give the kids some last hurrahs to go back to school with some stories.  (How many third grade boys jumped from a bluff into the river last week?)  But the concentrated effort has taken its toll, and my to-do list has grown so long that I dare not look at it all at once.  Talking with a friend, we realize how family-focused we’ve been.

As good as it is to put the family first, there are some of us who receive boosts of energy when we are tapped into a higher power, a greater source of creative energy.  How else would we be able to do all that we do?  I wondered why people thought I was a supermom, but now I’ve realized that I take for granted the strength, the seeming reserve of energy, that comes from doing what we are truly called to do.  When we tap into our “vein of gold,” we are energized to continue our good works, and this inevitably spills into other areas of our life.  When we focus on all of our practical responsibilities that come with daily life without tapping into this wellspring of creative energy, we quickly realize that it is quite impossible to do it all on our own.  At least, that’s how I feel, and after doing too much too long alone, we usually get physically struck down.  (Cue migraine.)

So, as routines change up again and we all find ourselves settling into new fall rhythms, I hope to keep the door to creative outlets open and pass through often enough to be invigorated with that Divine creative energy, bringing it into other areas of my life as well.  Lord knows the only limits are those I impose upon myself, and it’s fully within my means to get my life back in order, trying as ever to restore a sense of balance.

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Point of Contact

Walking in public places, do you notice the awkwardness of when to make contact with others?  Should I look into their eyes?  Smile?  What if they look up just as I’m looking away?  Should I send good energy their way or conserve?

Then I think about how ridiculous the whole concept is if, in fact, the energy isn’t mine to give but ours to share.  I sense an obligation to make contact with others who participate in this life with me, as I participate in this life with them.  I offer my smiles, my focus, even if it’s just a moment, as it usually is.  Maybe that moment of contact, of relation, with all its sincerity and lack of expectation, can be like the butterfly in the chaos theory, changing the course of events for the better.

It only takes a moment to let someone know, “I hear you.  I witness you here and now.  You are not alone.”

In our Circle of Trust, during our small group time, we conclude each focus person’s time with “We hear you.  We honor you.  We bless you.  We love you.  We are blessed by you.”  (something like that,  anyway)  And the miraculous thing is we really mean it.  How often do you get to say these words and feel in your heart of hearts the deep connection?  This practice is spreading into the rest of my life, opening my heart so that it’s not just those with whom I work closely that I feel a connection, that I experience a deep, genuine love.  I daresay this practice of compassion is growing into Compassion.

There is no one point of contact, no quantitative measure of when and where to do this or that in society, regarding when to smile and/or make eye contact or not.  It’s just as true to form not to make eye contact, so long as we feel the connection, honor the other and participate in our wholeness.

Your suffering is my suffering.  Your joys are my joys.  Your life is mine, as mine is yours.  I bow to the Buddha in you as you see the Christ in me.  Here we are, as One.

I hear you.  I honor you.  I bless you.  I love you.  I am blessed by you.

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All Things Good

I’m finding it difficult to focus on that which must be done.  I’m caught in the mental quagmire of thinking about those who are faced with life-threatening illness and preparing myself for a weekend retreat.  Some are facing the reality of their mortality, and I am delighting in the vitality of my life, the blessings of my nurturing community and ability.

Life is full of these paradoxes, though.  There is birth and death every day, but this is just what we see with our limited vision.  If we could take our focus away from the blatant physical dimension, perhaps we would be able to sense the divine spark in everything, feel the Presence that is the source of life, imbuing us with the energy and very vitality that we describe as “life.”  Energy is neither created nor destroyed.

One of my responsibilities is to trust that all that unfolds has meaning, that ultimately, everything contributes to the greater good, even if I can’t see how.  My vision and understanding are finite, very limited.  If I allow myself to trust, however, I feel like my understanding is broadened; I feel hope.  One of my other responsibilities might be to help others sense this trust and hope.  Some might call it faith.

Whether our body is overtaken with cancer or if we have years stretched before us, the truth is that in every moment, we may not know the difference.  The truth is that the only thing that truly matters in every moment is that we love and love deeply with reckless abandon.  In that, there are no regrets.  And that is a responsibility we all have.

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What We Really Have

FACT:  We all have finite amounts of time, money and energy.

FACT: No matter how much money we have or don’t have, there will be others who have more (assuming you’re not like Bill Gates, JK Rowling or the like!) and others who have less.

FACT:  Energy is neither created nor destroyed.

FACT:  Time is a constant.  Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  No more, no less.

On this day when I’m wishing I could sleep less and do more, wondering why I don’t just buy neatly packaged pre-made gifts, wishing I had the money to do so if I wanted to, it somehow helps to remind me of what my reality honestly consists of.  There are facts I often do not take into consideration, mostly because they are taken for granted.

It is worthwhile to remind myself every now and again that how I view my place in the world may just have an affect on how my place is in the moments to come.  Am I complaining about my gift-making?  Is that why suddenly I find that I don’t actually have all I need at the moment?  Do I think there’s not enough time to clean the house?  Has that increased the explosiveness factor on the mess that erupted in the last 24 hours?

How about if I start this day visualizing everything getting done that needs to be done, with realistic expectations.  My list is made.  My mind is clear.

I know how much money is in the bank, and I consider myself richly blessed.

I will exhale the negative energy and inhale the positive, rejuvenating energy, keeping a steady pace.

I have 24 hours this day to eat, sleep, be and do. 

No more.  No less.

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There’s No Room If It’s Overflowing

I watered the plants one day last summer, for they didn’t look like they could wait any longer for the rain that promised to come any minute but hadn’t for days.  Little sprinkles just don’t quench a great thirst, though, any more than little pecks of a kiss give justice to great passion.  So I watered the plants.  Within 15 minutes it was raining and continued to rain on and off for most of the afternoon.  I joked with my kids that I watered the plants just so it would rain, kind of like washing the car to make it rain.

Almost as much as the plants needed water, I needed some fresh air.  We had turned on the air conditioning just a couple of weeks before, so the home was sealed off from the natural flow.  As good as it is to keep the humidity off our pictures and portraits, there’s something to be said for being in tune with nature as the temperature and humidity rise and fall.  I was grateful for my fresh air that morning  and enjoyed the once limp flowers rising tall again.

As for the rain barrels that provide the water for my watering cans, they were overfull when I began my chore.  I should have known they would be filled again soon.  With our summers around here, though, you never know if it’s going to rain for a week or come a drought.  I shouldn’t have worried. 

As with all things, if we hoard or collect, we can become stale and stagnant.  It’s much better to be useful and beautiful in due course and then be renewed when the time comes. 

I remember the story of the proud Zen student asking the teacher why he hadn’t experienced enlightenment, especially since he knew so much about the ways of a good monk.  It was tea time, and the teacher poured the student some tea as he listened.  And he kept pouring.  The cup was overflowing, and finally the student asked the teacher why he didn’t stop.  The teacher asked how he could teach when the student’s mind, like the cup, was so full.

Hopefully I didn’t completely destroy the beautiful story, for it is one of my favorites.  (If you enjoy good, quality dharma talks and Zen stories, please visit Zen Reflections.)  I think of this story, though, when I feel like I’m all used up, when like the flowers and plants, I’m wilted.  It’s not entirely a bad thing.  When the rain comes, when the energy returns, the sense of vitality is incomparable, the possibilities endless.  Best to use while it’s fresh and make room for more than worry about what may or may not happen, wasting what is already at hand.  Plus, I’d hate to miss an important lesson, not able to catch it because I thought I already had enough.

May your days be fresh and fruitful.


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Thinking about Energy

I’ve decided spring cleaning came about because of ant infestations.  As I resolve to eventually mop my floors and clean thoroughly, I’m also thinking of my own body.  Am I doing everything to keep it operating optimally?  (Say that five times fast!)

Quite bluntly, I’m not.  I’ve talked to my chiropractor and several friends, and I’ve resolved to do a cleanse.  Not exactly pleasant to think about, but being sensitive to the flow of energy to my body, it makes perfect sense.  Also, my youngest is just about weaned, so I’m at a transition point in my life.  I haven’t decided which cleanse to do.  My chiro recommended one and then a 2-day liver cleanse.  I’m going to do a bit more researching before I decide.

Common advice remains (and can be found at Dr. Mercola’s site):

  • Drink pure water and lots of it
  • Regularly exercise until you sweat (toxins released in your sweat)
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet, free of additives and all the other non-nutitives

A cleanse is meant to aid your overall wellness, not make it happen, so it should supplement your above strategy for wellness.  Easy advice, right?

As I embark on this journey into further wellness, I challenge you to think about your own body, your own level of wellness.  How doth your energy flow?  What are you using as your energy sources?  Are they all healthy and beneficial, or are you using adrenaline, caffeine and/or others?  It’s helpful to make commitments to ourselves.  It’s even better to evaluate every once in a while to make sure we’re following through.

May all be well with you, and may your day be sunny, too!

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Less for More

Try explaining to a three year old that less is more.  If brother and sister have three pieces of candy, and he only has two, the mathematical logistics set in early . . . and he has less, no matter the bountiful benefits of eating less candy.  The same holds true for adults, for we all have that inner child who, sometimes quite loudly and insistently proclaims, “I want that, too!”

Everything around us in society encourages that voice, the little beastie that fuels our consumer-driven society.  We’re addicted now, spoiled, and even though our conscious awareness is telling us something’s not right, our inner child is still screaming for more.  Instead of society massively helping us by making what is good for us appealing, the mainstream temptations haven’t changed much.  And would you like a high-energy XXX soda with that?

*SPLASH*  Drench yourself with water, filtered or purified if you have it, inside and out.  We have got to wake up.  There is plenty out there to help us on our way, and instead of thinking we’re trying to deny logic by making less more, think of it this way:  we’re going with less to make room for more . . . less for more.  Any economist would tell you that’s a good deal, so long as you’re on the receiving end, which we are! 

Everything comes from and is fueled by energy, which comes from the Universe, and there’s an endless supply of the good stuff.  (I know, sounds really technical, doesn’t it.)  There is a catch, though. The good energy is easily blocked and congested.  We have free will.  We can choose what we want.  We can choose the sugary/alcoholic/caffeinated drinks for our bodies.  We can eat the trans fats and empty calories, and we can fill our minds with an array of images at the flick of a switch.  Or, we can grab a water, some fruits and veggies and take a hike.

Ever wonder why you have to “clear your mind”?  It is not just your mind.  If we clear our bodies, we’re more open to that universal good energy that is there for us all . . . if we choose it.  Sound hokey or new agey?  Think of the healthiest people you know.  Think of the most sincerely happy, authentic people you know.  How do they live?  Are the people in the McMansions and expensive cars “happy”?  Some, probably.  All?  Doubtful.

Take where you are now — your relationships, job, home, finances, possessions, EVERYTHING — and give thanks for what you have and for what you don’t have, for that which brings you joy and those that offer life lessons.  Now, make a list of what brings you joy.  If it’s not on your list, clear it out of your daily round.  If it can’t be removed (I’m thinking of household chores!), then find a way to bring joy to it.  I honestly feel better when the house is clean.  It is in my best interest to keep it so.  My kids are getting old enough to help, and I’m grateful I’m not always doing it by myself anymore.  The key:  make it positive.  We’re all familiar with the slippery slope of the downward spiral, and that is because negative energy attracts negativity and congestion — you don’t go with the flow.  The good thing, though, is that it’s a spiral, not a brick wall.  It’s hard, but we can get back up, even if we have to enlist help.

I’m writing all this to myself, mostly.  We all know this stuff.  It’s around us; we just have to receive it.  It’s still early in the new year, a perfect time to work on clearing and decluttering, focusing on intent and finding how best to give back in thanks for all our blessings.  I want to live with less clutter (mental and physical) and on less money (out of principle and necessity) so that we have room for more quality time and contentment.  Of course, my inner-child is resisting.  I love to shop for nice things and have quality items, but I would rather be debt-free first.  So many lessons to learn, and I keep getting them over and over again.

I need to be more patient with myself and my children.  The universe is so patient with me.

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