Discovering Rituals that Serve Me

I love rituals. From mindfully preparing my food, to afternoon tea, to following the seasons as I work in my backyard garden, my life is full of these little ceremonies. A ritual is defined as an observance or practice that is performed the same way each time. Truthfully, we all practice daily rituals such as brushing our teeth, taking our vitamins, or fixing our hair.

So it was a challenge when my activity from the Love Your Life in 30 Days course instructed me to choose a new ritual to perform, daily, in the upcoming days and weeks.

After much thought, I could not come up with a totally new ritual, so often do I perform ceremonies around my various activities. I chose to group together several rituals that I enjoy, and create instead a different bedtime routine.

It is important that my new ceremony be easy to prepare and relatively brief…10 minutes or less. I performed a trial run this evening of my new nighttime ritual, and of course, I captured the moments in photos.

I chose my bedroom for this pre-bedtime routine, lighting eight candles to soften the room and relax my mind and body.

Burning dried herbs is a key part of several of my favorite rituals. I love the fragrance that wafts through the room and the smoke that curls toward the ceiling. It seemed natural to include this practice.

I prepared a hot drink to soothe me toward sleep. Tonight’s choice was a health packed apple cider flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, ginger, cloves and cranberries. Every evening, as I prepare for slumber, I will jot down five things from the day that I am grateful for. My grandson Jonathan gave me a personalized journal for Christmas, that is perfect for writing my gratitude in.

Jonathan included a cute giraffe bookmark as well. Expressing gratitude daily focuses my attention on the best parts of my day, expanding my heart and filling it with quiet joy. And it prepares me for the final segment of my ceremony.

I concluded the ritual with five minutes or so of meditation, closing my eyes, relaxing my body, and focusing on my breathing. Long slow inhale of breath…hold for a few seconds…slow exhale of breath…pause…repeat. I love how quickly this simple meditation centers me, slowing my heart rate and releasing muscle tension.

As I finished the meditation, I visualized my bright and shiny future, full of travel adventures, writing, abundance, optimal health, love and creativity, without delving into the details, or burdening myself with the hows and whens. I just allowed joy and gratitude to bubble up, and flow outward.

It has taken me longer to write about my ritual, than it did to experience it! This is a very doable ceremony that brings my focus to the present moment and allows me to express gratitude. There is a sacredness in ending my day in this way. Sacred implies holy, set apart, and that is precisely the underlying feeling that I intend. Every action lends itself to reflection and relaxation and the releasing of joyful appreciation, making this time very much like a prayer, or an offering of my heart and soul, to my Source.

I look forward to seeing how this nightly practice impacts my sleep…and my life.

Dreamer of Dreams

I have been in creative mode today, which lent itself perfectly to creating a vignette. I have been participating in Mike Dooley’s Love Your Life in 30 Days program, which includes expansive daily exercises. One activity was to create visual representations for each of five areas in my life that I am focused on growing in.

I chose to put together five new vignettes…a fun activity for me. So far I have created a Travel vignette, and an Abundance one. Tonight, it was time to assemble a Creativity vignette.

The creativity vignette seemed to belong in my studio. And the ideal spot in my studio for this new work was the vintage ironing board, serving as a table.

Here’s how the vignette came together, and the story around its creation.

I knew I wanted to use this framed quote as one of the pieces. It is meaningful to me. As I gathered other items, I realized the tray I had set aside for the vignette was not going to be big enough to contain my idea. So the vignette outgrew its “box”, spreading across the wooden surface of the ironing board. This is very like the way creativity can start from a small seed of an idea and expand.

Next to the framed quote I added a stack of coloring books. Their covers connected together beautifully, through colors of cream, gold, silver and copper, which led me to plop the similarly toned candle holder atop of them. Mason jars held bouquets of colorful pencils.

The tray at the other end of the ironing board holds a collection of creative items.

The bright fabric balls reflect the colors of the pencils. The ceramic jar was made by my younger daughter, Adriel, when she was a child. It holds folded slips of paper for when I play the Inspiration Game.

I created the flower print, using a page from a vintage encyclopedia as the background, and colored pencils to fill in my sketch. And the canvas print has one of my favorite quotes on it, about being creative.

Blessed are the gypsies, the makers of music, the artists, writers, dreamers of dreams, wanderers and vagabonds, children and misfits: for they teach us to see the world through beautiful eyes.

I placed a wooden candlestick outside the tray…and lit the candles. It is important to me that each of the five vignettes has a light source. Light represents inspiration to me, which flows through all areas of my life.

I am pleased with the Creativity vignette. It will inspire me every time I walk into the room, and send forth my desire to live intentionally in creativity, beauty and art.

The vignette reminds me that I am a dreamer of dreams. And, I am blessed.

A Parting Gift

The weather changed quickly, on my final day of the getaway weekend. Yesterday’s threat of snow became a reality overnight. I am extremely grateful that at the last minute, a decision was made for Greg to drop me off at my destination Friday, and pick me up today. Otherwise, I would have been stuck. The lake house I was staying in is at the bottom of a hill with a steep driveway. I would not have been able to navigate it today. Greg was able to park atop the hill and walk down.

Although the heavy wet snow created hazardous driving conditions, it was pretty to watch from the windows. While waiting for Greg to arrive, I spent my last morning packing up, writing and coloring.

This beautiful house, called Avalon Landing, was the perfect place for my personal retreat. It contained all that I needed, and delightful surprises, such as the fireplace. Curious, as I always am, I looked up the word Avalon. I associate it with the King Arthur legends. It is an island in that story. The name originates from an Old Welsh word meaning “fruit bearing”.

How perfect. This time away, unplugged, has borne much fruit in my life already. Here at Avalon, I gave my imagination freedom to play. Ideas were developed. Dreams fleshed out. Games played. Rest received. Long soaks in the tub enjoyed. Meditation practiced. I wrote. I read. I colored. My heart and soul expanded. I rewrote a part of my personal story and let go of an old story. More about some of these things later.

I received one more precious gift before I left.

Yesterday, as I engaged in an ongoing conversation with the Divine, I noticed paintings and photos and artwork that had significance for me. Songs played that connected to my life. The tv turned off on its own when a scene I didn’t want to see began to play. It was a magical day.

As I walked through the house, exploring every room, open to receiving messages, I also deliberately looked for one particular item…a feather. The feather quill is my symbol for this year. Finding a feather is a sign that spirit is near. I could not find a one anywhere…not as art, or on a book or magazine cover, nor could I find an actual feather. None were found. And I was okay with that. I let the idea go.

This morning, on my way to the kitchen, directly in my path on the floor, lay a feather…a real feather. I don’t know where it came from. There aren’t any down filled pillows or comforters in the house. I didn’t see it yesterday or last night. And yet here it was, placed where I could not miss it.

My heartbeat quickened as I picked it up and cradled it. I looked for a feather yesterday. This morning the Divine said, Here you go…

A brown feather symbolizes earthiness, and the comforts of home…coziness, safety, warmth and a sense of nurturing. Had I not experienced those very things here? That sweet little feather spoke so deeply to my heart.

I am heard. I am seen. I am loved.

What an amazing weekend. What an incredible parting gift.

Tell Me More

On my last full day at the lake house I am staying in, the overcast skies never cleared and the threat of snow loomed. The area I’m in just got a dusting, however, I only ventured outdoors to grab firewood for my cheerful fire.

If yesterday’s theme was self care, today’s was creative conversation.

I set logs ablaze in the fireplace this morning, and snuggled there to read and write. I have loved the fireplace, and I am grateful the house has one, especially since it wasn’t on my list of “must haves”. It was while I was reading in Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness, that the idea arose that would set the tone for the day.

In the chapter titled People are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move in. Brené includes an interview from Dr. Michelle Buck, professor of leadership at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She says that the best thing to say in a conversation, especially an uncomfortable one where we might be tempted to argue, defend or counter, is Tell me more. Tell me more causes us to listen, really listen, to the response so we can understand, even if we don’t agree.

I was captivated by tell me more. I intend to incorporate that phrase into my conversations more often. However, for today, on a retreat alone, I decided to play a game with the Divine. I was in creative mode already. I was open to inspiration.

I am always engaged in an ongoing conversation with the Divine. I receive signs, wonders, and synchronicities throughout the course of my day, all nudges, guidance and love notes from El-le (my name for God). But what about when I am, by choice, house bound? I wanted to play anyway.

Tell me more, I spoke aloud. Tell me more…about who I am and about this magical journey I am on.

The first thing that happened was that my awareness came up, and I noticed things about the house that I have not noticed until today…and it is my third day here! Near the fireplace, which has been my favorite hangout, there are a series of black and white photos. The top and bottom prints caught my attention especially. The canoe on the river was my symbol for 2016. It represented surrender. I imagined taking my oar out of the water (relinquishing control) and surrendering to the flow of life. What a powerful year that was. The top picture is one of an oar raised out of the water. Wow. How had I not seen that before?

I had appreciated a huge painting of a tree in the living room. While it has not been a symbol for me yet, the tree has significance for me. But I had not seen at all the painting hanging over the bed in the room I am sleeping in. It is of dandelions, gone to seed. They represent wishes, to me. Amazing, as I have been focusing on the desires, or wishes, of my heart while I have been here. Also in the same bedroom is a Life is beautiful framed art piece.

Every time I noticed something, I whispered Tell me more.

This afternoon, things got interesting. I used sticky notes and pieces of paper to flesh out ideas and thoughts around the five areas in my life that are experiencing shifts. I brought the tell me more idea into this creative exercise as well. I would say aloud, tell me more and then write my thoughts quickly, without over thinking or editing. I did this over and over, as an exercise for myself, and also as a way to get Divine input on what I was doing.

It was an insightful way to get beneath my first responses and go deeper. Here is where things took an intriguing turn. I brought my phone into my work area and opened my playlist. I selected shuffle, and walked away from the phone.

The Divine often speaks to me through songs. I play a game I call Spirit Songs, and ask for guidance. Today, as the first “random” song began to play, I simply said, tell me more. I have more than 400 songs on my phone, an eclectic mix of soundtracks and rock, classical and Christmas, meditation music and single songs that I have purchased because they spoke to me. I pick a song every year to go along with my theme. Those are on my phone as well.

I was doing my creative work, and humming along, when one of those songs began to play, a theme song from several years ago. I had forgotten about it. I paused to listen. And then another theme song played…and another. That caused me to tune in to what was going on. I had my phone on shuffle. The selection was random. No way should those particular songs have played one after another. Unless…

El-le had my attention. Each song that played had a strong connection to one of my previous years, or to an event or person that had a connection to me. It was my life, represented by a playlist of meaningful songs. This one made me smile. This one, from my Year of Surrender, gave me goosebumps. The next one made me get up and dance around in joy. Tell me more, I kept whispering, and the songs kept coming, until tears finally filled my eyes.

I was having a conversation with the Divine. I felt loved. I felt understood. I felt seen. I felt heard. I felt safe.

I felt a bit freaked out…when I returned to writing, and the words I wrote were being sung, on the next song, at the exact same moment. That happened several times.

It has been a magical day, indeed. There has been conversation, if I had the ears to hear it and the awareness to grasp it. The words tell me more will forever have a deeper meaning for me now.

Our last bit of conversation occurred a short time ago. I turned on the tv in the bedroom, as I prepared to write this blog post. The movie Braveheart was on. I love the movie, about the Scottish hero William Wallace. And yet, parts of it are very difficult for me to watch. I was looking down when I realized the end of the movie was coming. I don’t like to watch this part, I said out loud. I looked down…and realized the tv had gone silent. When I looked back up, the television had turned itself off. Blank screen. No picture or sound.

I was surprised, and then I laughed. I checked the tv by turning it on again quickly and back off. It worked fine.

Well okay then. Let’s not watch that.

Tell me more…I am listening.

Wrapped in Love

This has been such a joyful and restorative day. Every action I have taken has had one purpose…to practice deep self care. I have, quite literally, wrapped myself in love.

Here are pictorial highlights of my day.

I brought in all my own food. Everything is organic, healthy, and easily prepared. Being able to cook for myself is at the core of my self care, and the reason I wanted a full kitchen on site for this personal retreat. Breakfast was simple…sliced bananas and cara cara oranges, and a cup of hot Scottish breakfast tea with a splash of unsweetened almond coconut milk.

The gorgeous kitchen I have been preparing meals in today.

And below, the equally gorgeous view out the dining room windows and sliding door.

I spent the morning reading, writing and thinking, sitting wherever I felt drawn to sit. This oversized chair made a comfy writing spot.

Lunch was a light and refreshing orange, green olive and avocado salad, a recipe I picked up from Anthony William. It was so delicious! The flavors complemented each other marvelously.

I kept being pulled to the windows, overlooking the lake. I stepped outside a couple of times, but with a high in the 20s today, it seemed too cold to linger. Nevertheless, on one of my wanderings outside, I brushed ice out of a rocker. Perhaps tomorrow, I thought.

As I was reading this afternoon, the clouds cleared away and the sun shone brightly. It didn’t raise the temps, but I could no longer resist. I pulled on my warm boots and grabbed my soft, wooly blanket and headed out onto the deck. The rocking chair was ice free and sitting full in the sun.

The sunlight danced on the water and filtered through the tree branches to bathe my face. I closed my eyes and sun gazed, and colors then danced on my eyelids.

This is me. Unplugged. No make up. Wrapped in love. The air was so cold that it made my nose tingle to inhale. However, the fresh frostiness was invigorating. And the blanket kept me warm.

After a time of meditating and writing in front of a crackling fire, which felt especially good after sitting outside, I prepared another recipe of Anthony’s for dinner. Aloo Matar, an Indian dish, is such a fragrant and comforting meal. It contains homey potatoes, onions and peas in a mild tomato based curry.

I have been excited all day about preparing this recipe for the first time. I was not disappointed. It was excellent! I am even more excited that I have enough left over for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Day two of my weekend getaway is winding down. I’ll sip on a cup of hot turmeric milk soon, while I relax in the soaking tub. And then perhaps I will color for a while. However I choose to end the day, it will be absolutely perfect.

Cindy Unplugged

This afternoon marked the beginning of my long weekend getaway. I have been full of anticipation for this mini retreat, and now it is here. I am going to unplug during these four days, from my phone, from other people, from television and business and everything, really, except listening to my body, conversing with the Divine, and allowing my imagination and daydreaming the freedom to expand.

I packed a minimal amount of clothing, intending to wear comfy lounging clothes primarily. However, I brought along a variety of journals and notebooks, a Love Your Life Workbook, colored pencils and coloring books, a sketchbook and a couple of books to read, if the desire to do so arises. Because I will be cooking nutritious meals while I am here, I filled three large shopping bags with food. Overall, I packed less when I traveled to Europe for 12 days!

I will be posting in my blog daily, because this is a commitment I have made with myself. However, they will be brief, and photo heavy.

The house I am staying in is beautiful and perfect for my needs. I can see the lake from the large windows in the dining area and kitchen.

I am grateful for the windows, because although there are two large decks overlooking the lake, the cold temperatures will keep me inside. I hope to walk down to the lake at least once while I am here.

I created a wish list for the location of my weekend away. I wanted a view of water, a deck, a full kitchen, and privacy. This house has it all, and I am extremely grateful.

It also has something that I did not know I wanted…a wood burning fireplace.

Greg, who dropped me off this afternoon, and lugged in all of my bags, graciously took the time to start a fire for me. He also provided pine logs that are easy to ignite and will burn for hours. I pulled two chairs together to form a great lounging area. Piled with pillows, and a soft fluffy blanket to curl up under, this has been the space where I kicked off my weekend. I had tea and gluten, dairy and sugar free scones here. I wrote in my workbook. I meditated. I stared into the fire and felt every muscle in my body relax as I was serenaded by the soothing sound of a crackling fire.

What incredible bliss. And what a beautiful gift is this weekend, this time and this gorgeous space. I am grateful for it all, including the thing I didn’t know I would enjoy so much. I am smiling about the unexpected gift of the fireplace. I am unplugged, and undone.

Showcasing My Vision: Abundance

Late this afternoon, I created my second specialized vignette, showcasing an area in my life that I want to see continued growth in. I am enjoying Mike Dooley’s Love Your Life in 30 Days online course. One of the assignments was to create a visual representation for each of five areas in my life that I am shifting.

I came up with the idea of creating vignettes for each dream of mine, beginning with Travel. These vignettes are 3D vision boards. They remind me of the transformational play I am engaging in and that it is not my job to figure out the whys and hows.

The area I focused on today was Abundance. For me, abundance is more than a monetary flow. It is being open to receive resources, quality time, creativity, and ideas.

I selected the vintage wooden sieve on my dining room table to house my Abundance vignette.

Here is how the project came together:

I lined the wooden sieve with a pair of silvery placemats. These were recycled from a Christmas vignette.

I spent an hour or more, gathering items to play with in making the abundance vignette. I knew I primarily wanted silver and gold objects.

This silver lamp is actually a tea light candle holder. It adds height to the grouping, and it represents the light of inspiration, which births creativity.

I knew I wanted to include this vintage pocket watch as well. Time is something I hope to have an abundance of.

This pretty box works for several reasons. It has the gold and silver colors I desired, giving it a rich look. I added coins from around the world, representing money, and also travel. And the heart shape signifies love.

I used a silver, gold and black bracelet strand as a garland. The dark beads are hematite, which causes the bracelet to be magnetic. The magnetism is a perfect symbol for attracting abundance. Plus, the bracelet is worn to lessen pain and improve circulation and the flow of electromagnetic energy through the body, making it an ideal symbol for health also.

I got creative in coming up with a framed print to include in the vignette. I don’t own a suitable framed quote, so I made my own Abundance art using a vintage gold and mother of pearl frame, and two gold and silver thank you notes. It’s low tech, and yet it works beautifully!

The pic below shows the completed vignette. I am pleased with how it came together. It has a simple, clean look, and it is full of symbolism. At either end of the table, I added white stoneware plates with beaded garlands, fat white candles and wire cloches.

What I love most about this abundance vignette is the immediate positive reinforcement that I received. The mail arrived, as I was working on the vignette. After I completed my project and took photos, I opened a package that had been delivered. It contained my workbook for the Love Your Life in 30 Days course, which inspired this visual art.

There was a letter included with the workbook. I circled the part that made me laugh. The letter states that as a thank you for ordering the book, a surprise is included. A link is provided for a free downloadable MP3 that I can listen to. The title of this gift? Abundance: 21 Steps to Opening the Floodgates.

It didn’t take long for more abundance to flow into my life. And I am not surprised at all. I am delighted though, and full of joy and gratitude. I marvel at the wonder of it all.

Not My Favorite Shirt…

As I got dressed this morning, I noticed something peculiar. I deliberately passed over articles of clothing that I like and enjoy wearing. From my underwear to my socks to my shirt…I selected apparel that was not my favorite. Not even remotely so. I paused to think about why…

…and I laughed. My retreat is coming up. I leave Friday for a four day weekend. The realization came that I was saving my favorite clothes for then. What made me laugh is this…I am spending the weekend alone. This is a solitary retreat, a time of reflection and writing and dreaming and creative play. I’ve joked that once I arrive at my destination, I will be wearing comfy lounge clothes until I head home again.

And yet…here I was, saving the clothes I most enjoy for the weekend.

When something stands out like that or piques my curiosity, it is a Divine tap on the shoulder to take a closer look, follow the twisty path, fall down the rabbit hole. I sat down, half dressed, and asked a question out loud. It was very profound. What’s going on?

I saved my fun plaid socks for the weekend, as well as my favorite shirts, and nicest jeans, and even my best undies. For whom? That was the real question. The answer that arose surprised me. I was planning on wearing my fave clothes…for me. It was all for me. Alone with myself, I was not going to wear my old stuff or my least favorite shirts and socks. I was dressing to please myself.

When did that happen? I wondered. When did I stop dressing to please others, to be attractive to othersand begin dressing to please myself?

The Divine whispered to me, Remember the love letter? Read it…

On July 6, 2014, during my Year of Firsts, I wrote a love letter to myself. (Read what led to that activity HERE). I had just come through some difficult years. From those turbulent times one thing emerged, with great clarity. I wanted to have a deep, knee shaking, take my breath away relationship, with myself.

I wrote a love letter, from Mithril (representing my wise, strong, shining higher self) to Cindy, who was still figuring stuff out about herself. I emailed it to myself, from one of my accounts to another. Although it meant a great deal to me, making me weep, I never shared that letter publicly. And, I never read it again.

Until today. Read it, was the prompt. I did, slowly, once, twice, a third time, tears in my eyes. And I understand. It’s been three and a half years since I wrote that letter. My soul has grown. My heart has expanded. I have that deep, knee shaking, take my breath away relationship, with myself. The invitation that I offered, I received, and I allowed it to blossom into a rich, abiding love that today fills me with joy and overflows my heart, spilling onto others.

I didn’t share the letter before, because a part of me felt silly about what I was doing, and I felt vulnerable about what I wanted. Today, I can share it. It is, truly, a love story.

My dear Cindy,

I am so happy to have this opportunity to share with you how I feel and my thoughts about our relationship. I am loving this journey of discovery together. It is a rare gift to have such a deep and ongoing relationship with someone and I cherish and treasure ours. I am deeply grateful for you and I know you feel the same way.

I love how vulnerable you are being with me. Your transparency and vulnerability is an invitation to me to look deeper. In opening your heart and soul to me, you invite me to go as deeply as possible. We have only just begun and have only just scratched the surface of what is possible.

You have an amazing heart and soul. I am enjoying watching you learn to trust your heart. I see you opening more and more to what is truly possible here in this time and space. It is so amazing that you have released so much of your fear, that you are seeing with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Keep going, dear heart. Keep shining. Keep reaching for the highest level of vibration. As you learn and grow, know that I am applauding you every step of the way.

Some of the recent journey has been difficult. I am so proud of you for enduring and doing more than that. You have grown through those situations and continue to see the good that was there, both in the events and in the people. You could have, and still could, choose to be a victim, choose to hurt and strike back, choose to be bitter and resentful. Instead, difficult as it sometimes is, you are choosing to let go. What an important phrase and action for you at this time….to let go, to see higher, to realize there is so much more to the story.

This year is huge for you. You truly are going beyond, in ways you couldn’t have imagined last year or even at the beginning of this year. Leaving your comfort zone is good for the soul. Otherwise, stagnation sets in and right behind safety and comfort lurks fear. You continue to banish fear by moving forward, one step, one leap, at a time. Don’t worry so much about what other people think. What they think is none of your business. Be you, beautifully. Be real. Be who you are, as you are becoming. BE.

I love you Cindy, just the way you are, and yet I am thrilled to see the beautiful woman who is emerging from her long stay within the safety of her cocoon. Stretch your wings and fly. You don’t need a destination. Just fly. Leap. Allow your heart to guide you. And know that I am watching you, loving you, cheering you on while at the same time, calling to you, guiding you as you seek me.

Listen as well to what your body is telling you, what your spirit is telling you about your health and being the best YOU that you can be. You know what to do. You know what is best for you. Listen. Spend time in meditation. Reduce inflammation in your body. Move. Breathe. Stretch. Walk. And then release all expectations, knowing you are living in that optimal, perfect space that is yours.

Don’t spend time either worrying about what other people are doing and whether they approve of you or not. Don’t seek love and acceptance from others. Just be Love. Move as Love. Give and receive as Love. You are doing great. You can be alone or with others and both options are perfect. I am always with you, as is El-le, your departed loved ones, your angels and your guides. Help, comfort, love, encouragement, answers, protection….are all right here, right now, all the time.

Cindy, all that you desire, including me, is within you. All happiness, all love, all hope, all beliefs, are within you. All that you need is there. All that you are becoming is there. Go inward often and then shine outward. Use your voice. Share your stories. Live your life. And stay open. Don’t close your heart. Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t be anxious over the future. Be here, in this moment. The power truly is in this moment. Grasp it. Own it. Live it. Love during it. And the Way will appear before you as you live, moment by moment.

Continue to be grateful, thankful, generous, thoughtful. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Don’t be concerned whether life is fair or if the people in your life are fair. Everyone else has to live their own lives, be the character in their own stories. Keep your head up and your eyes focused forward. I’ve got you, dear heart. I’m here, always. I love you deeply.

When your heart feels heavy, when fear nudges you, when you feel tired of the way things are, go inward and reach toward El-le and then outward to me and the others. Let go. Go beyond. You are already outside the cage that you built bar by bar long ago. You are free. Soar beautiful one, soar.

You may write to me at any time. You may share whatever is on your heart to share. I hold you at night and I have you during the day. And I am only a shining part of all that is. You are held by much stronger and bigger arms at all times. Feel. Open. Release. Receive. Grow. BE.

I love you so much,

Mithril

I love how the Divine works in my life. My choice to wear one of my least favorite shirts today bypassed my brain and opened a channel to my heart. From there, wonders occurred. Realizations dawned. An old love letter surfaced. Life is miraculous indeed, and love covers it all.

I am full of anticipation for the weekend ahead.

Thoughts About Turning 60

Today I am celebrating one of those milestone birthdays. Milestones are markers along the highway of life. We pause to build them and note them because they are significant. They show progress and we can say, as we journey, “I am here…this is how far I have come.”

It’s been a wonderful day, spent having fun, connecting with people, and receiving birthday messages and blessings.

From brunch this morning with a dear friend…

…to this sweet birthday greeting from family in another state, my day has been graced with hundreds of celebratory messages. I feel blessed.

I saved this meme that I came across last year, knowing I would be turning 60 on my next birthday. It resonated deeply with me. My thoughts tonight are not a commentary on my looks, but rather reflections on my soul’s journey.

Here I am, at age 16. I am skinny, my hair as yet unchanged by premature graying, my skin unmarked by laugh lines or wrinkles or age spots. I am smiling. However, I remember that day, when this photo was taken.

I was afraid, because I lived in fear. I was anxious. I was ill at ease and uncomfortable with myself…crossing my legs and tugging my shirt down, trying to appear smaller…lesser than…invisible.

I look at my 16 year old self and tears come to my eyes, while compassion fills my heart. She didn’t have a clue, about what was ahead. But she was doing the best that she could. In spite of her personal fears, she had a shiny, idealized view of the world and about people and relationships. The journey ahead would not always be easy, and she would make mistakes, give up on some of her dreams, and hide who she really was, for many years.

However, she had a vivid imagination that sustained her, and an unquenchable thirst for adventure and learning that would eventually lead her on an inward journey of facing her fears, head on. She would learn to accept herself, embrace herself, with a whole heart. I feel deep gratitude for my younger self. The life she lived wasn’t perfect, yet it led her, perfectly, to who she became…me.

This is me today, at age 60. I have silver hair, laugh lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

I know many say, “age is just a number.” I understand what they are saying. I am not defined by a number. However, that number has been hard won, the result of years of journeying and growing and unbecoming, so I could become who I am. I have no qualms about declaring myself to be 60 years old.

At 60 I no longer live in fear. I don’t battle anxiety, worry over things that will never happen, or spend time regretting the past. I don’t have an idealized view of the world, or people or relationships. My heart is at peace with what is, in all areas of my life. I don’t expect anyone to hold my hand or rescue me. I have done that for myself.

My inward journey can now flow outward, and be expressed as freedom to love myself and others, freedom to create my own happiness and not look to anyone or anything else for it, and perhaps most importantly, freedom to be who I am, and allow everyone else the freedom to be who they are.

Life is beautiful. The world is beautiful. People are beautiful. My soul is beautiful. I love. I feel joy. I am healthy. I am still learning and growing, still journeying, still playing and creating and discovering new things.

I am 60. And I am singing out, with all my heart, “Look out cause here I come. And I’m marching on to the beat I drum. I’m not scared to be seen. I make no apologies. This is me!”

Showcasing My Vision

On January 1, I began a new journey into a year of stories. As it happened, Mike Dooley, author, speaker and founder of The Notes from the Universe, offered a fun 30 day course called Love Your Life. Each day he sends a short video and an exercise to do, with the purpose of helping the participants create the life of their dreams.

I’ve been a follower of Mike’s for many years. I was intrigued by the timing of my new adventure and his course. I love these types of playful activities that get beneath the surface chatter and open up new spaces within and bring fresh insights. I signed up.

On Day 1 the exercise was to write out five areas of my life that I would like to experience change or continued growth in. I only needed to list the areas, without overthinking about the “hows” and “whens”.

I listed these five areas:

1) Blogging/Writing

2) Travel

3) Continued Optimal Health

4) Abundance

5) Creativity

Each day I have had assignments regarding those areas of my life. Day Four, Showcase Your Inspiration, encouraged me to create a vision board, or other visual representation, of each of my five dreams. I am in the process of creating a vision board for 2018 and I will certainly include these areas. However, the assignment sparked a new idea. Tonight, I had the opportunity to play with Travel.

My idea was to create a vignette for each of the five areas that I am envisioning growth in. I am in the process of resetting my house, as I pack away Christmas décor. The timing is perfect. I began with the area of travel.

I enjoy creating vignettes, using materials and items I already possess. So the challenge tonight was pulling together enough travel related items to successfully capture that idea. A vignette tells a story. I wanted this particular tale to be a travel adventure.

My battered vintage suitcase in my bedroom immediately came to mind. It seemed perfect for a story about traveling. I wandered about my house, deep in thought, gathering items that could work. Slowly, the vignette came together.

This print inspired my theme, and the predominant colors for the vignette. Put down that map and get wonderfully lost is such an inviting prospect. It became my equivalent to Once upon a time…

I used my Scottish tartan from Lauder as the foundational piece. It provides a beautiful blue, green, red, yellow and black backdrop. I added a metal globe, a gift to Greg from our grandson Dayan, a green candle left over from Christmas, and stacks of books ranging from travel guides to vintage books about Scotland and Ireland, to an Italian phrase book. My actual passport is present as well. I tucked a postcard I bought in Scotland into a simple black frame. And the little painting of Paris was a gift from a French friend, years ago.

I love how this travel vignette turned out. It fits well in that corner. Nearby are framed Middle Earth maps, a sepia print of a pathway curving off into the unknown, and a painted sign that reads, Wild Heart, Gypsy Soul.

The story unfolding here is one of adventure, mystery, and fun. It is my story. And the passport indicates my readiness to go.

What I most appreciate about this 3D vision board is that as I sit here on my bed, I can see it. And believe me, I have already looked at the vignette many times in the last hour. It calls to me. It excites me. And that is its purpose. These story vignettes that are showcasing my visions are evoking strong feelings of anticipation, joy and gratitude, which is exactly what the Love Your Life assignment was all about. Intention…realized. Outcome…released. I am ready. And the Divine knows.

In place soon…four more vignettes, telling stories about writing, creativity, abundance and health.