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 BrenĂ© 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. BrenĂ© 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.

Notice the Flowers

Although it is midway through my garden’s growing season, there was one container I had not yet planted in. The black metal cauldron, that once belonged to Greg’s grandmother and came to me from his dad, was growing a healthy crop of weeds and an assortment of volunteer plants. I took time today to clear the cauldron and transfer in firework flowers that are popping up all over the garden. 

What started as a simple gardening task quickly transitioned into one of my ongoing conversations with the Divine. I love these spontaneous “chats”…and the rich lessons from the garden that teach me important truths about life. 

Notice the Flowers
I settled into a chair near the cauldron, enjoying the warm summer day as I pulled weeds and tidied up the container. In the past, I’ve grown yellow calendula in the big pot. This year those herbal flowers are thriving in a tall metal bucket. The neglected cauldron contained a tangle of weeds and grasses, and self starting basil and lemon balm plants. 

The weeds went into a plastic bucket and I transplanted the herbs, tucking them into the ground. I was ready to dig up volunteer firework flowers that self start from the seeds they drop in the fall. 

Notice the Flowers
Those prolific plants are appearing throughout the garden, in metal containers, flower beds, and even between bricks on the brickio. From my space of joy and openness, a conversation with the Divine began. Everyday is an ongoing conversation with the Divine. I receive love messages and lessons through signs and wonders, synchronicities and the unfolding of the journey. Sometimes, though, like today, I “hear” the words mixed in with my thoughts. 

Notice the flowers… was the thought that suddenly arose. Notice them. As I carefully dug up the wayward plants, I realized that most of them, although surviving where they were, lacked the space to do well. They were crowded and cramped, in less than ideal conditions. Their ability to grow fully and bloom was compromised. 

Ah. I saw the connection between the flowers struggling to grow and human life. Sometimes, although we are surviving, we aren’t fully being who we are meant to be. Our lives are hemmed in, crowded by things or people, cramped by limitations that may be a result of the environment we have chosen to plant ourselves in. 

Notice the Flowers
The plants reacted as I uprooted them from their current location and transplanted them into the cauldron. I understood. In life, upheaval is a form of uprooting. Losing someone or something important, changing jobs, ending a relationship, getting a scary diagnosis, all create the feeling of life falling apart. We tend to view these experiences as negative. 

However, from my role as the Gardener today, I saw a different perspective, a bigger picture. I didn’t intend harm for my plants. Quite the opposite. I was disrupting them so that they could grow and thrive. The plants drooped. They hung their blooms, even after I lovingly placed them into new spaces that allowed room to expand. They were totally unaware that I was there with them, tenderly caring for them and whispering encouragement to them. 

Notice the Flowers
Don’t we do the same, when life appears challenging? We can feel downcast, in spirit and countenance. The comfort of what we knew, of what we were used to, seems preferable to this new, expansive unfamiliar place we find ourselves in. 

And this is the thing. The flowers look a bit sad at the moment. They will likely lose their blooms. They may rest for a few days, conserving energy. But then, new growth will begin as I lavish extra care on them, watering them often and keeping weeds away that might choke them. They don’t know it right now, but they are about to expand and they will bloom again, and thrive, stronger and more resilient. 

I sat quietly, noticing the flowers and letting the thoughts rise from my heart. I recognized the truths I was receiving. The greatest growth in my life has occurred around times of upheaval, challenges and change. Those seasons were not pleasant…however, they were necessary for my growth. I was cared for as well, even if I wasn’t always aware of the Gardener in my life. All that I needed, to not only survive but to thrive and bloom, was provided with great tenderness and love. 

Notice the Flowers
Notice the FlowersGoogle image

Such profound lessons from the garden, life lessons. I felt deep gratitude and peace, sitting there in the garden with my thoughts. The Divine conversation was at an end. Or was it? 

At that moment, a large blue and black swallowtail butterfly flitted around the cauldron, its wings iridescent in the sunlight. It didn’t pause in its flight, but hovered near me for several seconds before lifting gracefully into the air and disappearing over the fence. 

Butterflies are significant to me, symbolizing belief, growth and transformation. I looked up characteristics specific to the swallowtail. They represent intuition, inspiration, higher consciousness, powerful beauty, strength and flashes of insight. 

The arrival of the swallowtail at that moment was certainly not a coincidence. With a flourish, and extravagant beauty, it signified the end of the conversation, one full of inspiration and flashes of insight, that began with an invitation.

Notice the flowers. I am glad I was listening. 

Notice the Flowers