Let the Games Begin

This story tonight falls under the category of “blew me away”, otherwise known as playing with the Divine. The references to the Queen chess piece, my confirmed symbol for 2019, just keep pouring in from an endless variety of sources. Something happened today that not only made me laugh with delight, it raised my awareness a notch. I can say with anticipation, Let the games begin.

Let the Games Begin

A new school year began recently, and one of my great joys as a Yaya is to bring lunches to my grandkids and join them in their respective cafeterias throughout the year. Today I visited granddaughter Aubrey at her school, supplying her with a favorite meal from Subway.

Let the Games Begin

The principal at Aubrey’s school is very interactive with the kids. As they eat their lunches, he plays educational games with them, shares fun trivia or allows them to have singing contests. I appreciate that rather than sitting in silence, eating a quick lunch, there’s cheerful chatter that contributes to a fun atmosphere.

As the oldest kids in the school, the 4th graders eat last. While students polished off their lunches, Dr. Barlow wheeled in a laptop on a cart and turned on two large screens mounted in the corners of the cafeteria, which doubles as an auditorium.

Aubrey and I were chatting as she ate, and at first I didn’t realize what the principal was doing. He invited kids to form a line in front of the computer and play a game that everyone could observe on the big screens. The kids were playing an online version of chess!

Let the Games Begin

I’ve been present for many lunches in this school cafeteria over the last few years, and this is the first time I’ve seen chess offered as an interactive game with the children. Aubrey verified this was a new activity. As I watched in amazement, Dr. Barlow launched into a brief explanation of the game. When he mentioned how important the Queen chess piece is, I laughed with delight.

Seeing my granddaughter’s puzzled look I explained to her that the Queen chess piece is my new symbol for next year. We had a conversation about how I am given the word and symbol each year and how they guide me by setting a theme. She may not have completely understood the significance of what was happening, with the unexpected game of chess being played in the cafeteria, but it is important that she sees me being grateful and amazed with how life unfolds. And it is important that she begins to grasp that the Divine is orchestrating it all.

Let the Games Begin

I left the school, still marveling at the creative cleverness I had just experienced and the timing of it all. If I had any lingering doubts about embracing the Queen as my symbol for next year, they have been completely dispelled. In extraordinary and almost unbelievable ways my attention has been directed over and over to the Queen chess piece, and the qualities of queenship.

A few days ago, as I sorted through a box of odds and ends from Greg’s parents’ house, I almost tossed a couple white vintage cruet toppers that did not have cruets to top. They seemed useless. And then, that prompting came to look at them more closely. Turning them over in my hand, I saw it. They resemble chess pieces…specifically, Queen chess pieces. They are the start of a collection that I will surely add to during the next 16 months.

Aubrey asked me if I played chess, and owned a chess set. I no longer own the board and pieces however I do know how to play chess. She would like to learn. I will be purchasing the perfect board and set of chess pieces that represent what’s going on in my life.

Thinking about our conversation today and that online chess game brought a new realization. There is more going on here than being presented with a symbol for next year. The playfulness and creativity is a Divine invitation to join in at a deeper level. The repetitive occurrences are to ensure that I don’t miss the invite.

A little over a year ago, when I asked the Divine, Will you play with me? the immediate response was, Will YOU play with ME?

This is a continuation of that conversation. Next year things are going to get interesting…glory, they already are…and I can’t wait to see what unfolds. Will I play? Oh yes, let the games begin! We will figure out the rules as we go along.

Let the Games Begin

Imagining What’s Possible

After a day spent on the phone or staring at a screen, I knew by tea time that I needed a creative activity this evening. I felt that drawing and/or coloring was just what my mind, body and soul needed to unwind, and recharge.

And, I knew what image I wanted to capture.

Imagining What’s Possible

Every time I walked into my studio today, I paused to look at my white board and read the words I’ve written there.

Queen of my own Kingdom…or pawn in someone else’s?

I spent some time this afternoon working on the foundation of the Kingdom I am building, and the desire I felt, every time I stood before the board, confirms to me that this is my destiny. I am willing to do the work. I am willing to learn and grow, to see my dreams become reality.

It is good to have reminders of who I am and where I am heading. I am so excited about next year’s word and symbol, that I chose to create an art piece that captures this part of my journey, this space I inhabit between the dreaming and the coming true.

Imagining What’s Possible

I sketched out the pawn chess piece standing before an enchanted mirror that holds within it the reflection of the queen chess piece. In the game of chess, if a pawn traverses the board and reaches the other side, it can be promoted to any of the other pieces of the same color, except the king. The queen, with her ability to move in all directions, is a powerful choice.

I like the symbolism in that, considering my journey. As I move across the chess board of life, I am becoming queen, transitioning symbolically, to this next role.

Imagining What’s Possible

Imagining What’s Possible

I used Prismacolor pencils to color in my sketch and popped the completed art piece into a frame I had on hand. This work of art tells a story, my story. And it reminds me, like the words on my board, that the choice is mine. The invitation is to become. Doing the inner and outer work necessary is my way of accepting, of saying yes.

This framed art is resting on my bedside table, and it will remain there as this year ticks by. There are still stories to tell…and work to be done…before 2019 arrives. I’m not trying to rush through this year, but oh how my heart is expanding with the joy that I feel as I contemplate what is to come.

To create a life you love, the first step is imaging what’s possible.

The last thing I will look at before turning off my lamp, and the first thing I will look at when I awake each morning, is this visual reminder of the next part of my journey. I am imaging what is possible.

Imagining What’s Possible

Jump for Joy

I spent time yesterday with three of my grandchildren. We ended up at one of their favorite hangouts, Soar Trampoline Park in Webb City. With special pricing on Wednesdays and the start of school next week signaling the end of summer break, the place was packed with jumpers.

My granddaughter tried, without success, to get me to join in on the fun. After healing from 20 years of chronic sciatica, my legs feel great! And…I am cautious about doing anything that would injure them or cause pain. I chose to engage in one of my favorite activities while the kids jumped…people watching.

Jump for Joy

As I observed kids and youth and adults bouncing on the trampolines, I realized I was seeing living examples of character qualities that people display as they journey through life. Once that idea entered my head, people watching became an intriguing game.

There was…

The Fearful One – It was easy to spot the jumpers who were visiting a trampoline park for the first time. Their bodies were stiff and tense. One small boy kept his legs straight and his arms at his sides, as he barely bounced on the trampoline, his wide eyes fastened on his mom for reassurance. He was afraid to relax and really enter into the flow of what was happening around him.

The Wish-I-Was-Invisible One – This self conscious jumper hung out on the fringes, watching others having fun, wanting to join in, but reluctant in case others noticed him and perhaps ridiculed him. It was safer to remain in the corner and hope no one looked his way.

The I’m-Learning One – This girl was obviously not a seasoned jumper, but she was so willing to learn. She tried. She failed to complete a somersault or do a handstand. She tried again. Her focused concentration was evident and I was concerned she would bite the lip she was chewing on as she practiced what she was learning.

The I’ve-Got-This One – These were the jumpers with experience on the trampolines. They flipped, forward and backwards, cartwheeled down the long line of trampolines and leapt impossibly high into the air and then somersaulted back down. My grandkids fall into this category. They are relaxed, unafraid to try something new and so at ease that they don’t notice whether anyone is watching them or not.

Jump for Joy

The Risk Taking One – Every crowd has one, the person who pushes the envelope, breaks the rules, and lives on the rush of adrenaline. My grandsons cross over occasionally into this category. Yesterday I watched a tall young man reveling in the role of risk taker. He played just beyond the rules. He bounced, literally, off of the walls and the platforms and the poles. The wide grin on his sweaty face revealed how much he enjoyed his revved up jumping and wiping out in a spectacular fall didn’t slow him down one bit.

The Poor-Me One – This small boy was at a disadvantage in the crowded indoor park, and he knew it. He cried if someone bounced on his trampoline. He wanted to have fun but just couldn’t let go of his insistence that people had to recognize his unhappiness. He displayed anger and frustration and ultimately refused to play with others, placing himself on the bench.

The Competitive One – This was the young lady who wanted to be noticed…and applauded and considered the best. Everything was a competition and when her friends grew tired of playing “who’s the best at…” and went off to have their own fun, this girl attempted to make new friends who would compete against her. Winning was everything.

The Mean One – This kid wasn’t playful, he was deliberately unkind. He was small but compensated by stirring up trouble, challenging other kids, fouling up other jumpers and calling kids names. This behavior wasn’t allowed, once staff became aware of his antics, and a parent was pulled aside and talked to. The child was removed, by his weary looking parent, for a time out…and he wasn’t happy about it.

The Joyful One – When I wasn’t watching my own grandchildren jump and play, I looked for this little girl. She was about six years old, with a long braid down her back. She wasn’t an experienced jumper. I only ever saw her leap up into the air and back down again. But oh how joyful she was. When she jumped she flung her arms and legs out with glee, in all directions. Over and over again she bounded upward, laughing, throwing her head back with total surrender to the moment. She was not self conscious. There were no comparisons or competitions or fears. There was just joy and I smiled every time I caught sight of her.

I’ve journeyed long enough to have inhabited most of the qualities I saw on display yesterday. I am grateful that we are never stuck in any place, longer than we want to be. We grow as we go, and slip in and out of various roles until at last our hearts resonate with the rightness of who we are, who we have become. Even then, circumstances or hurts can cause us to wear a different persona for a while, primarily as a form of protection. But once we know who we are, it is much easier to return to that state of being.

Had I agreed to play on the trampolines, my fear of getting hurt most likely would have tilted me into wishing I was invisible so no one would notice me while I tested out my legs. I hope I would have quickly transitioned into one who surrendered to the fun and the experience and the moment.

I am determined now to try. I want to jump…jump for joy.

Jump for Joy

Becoming Elissa…

Today my older daughter celebrated a birthday. This is my fourth year of blogging and although I wished Elissa a Happy Birthday through text, Facebook and in person, I wasn't going to do a birthday blog post this year, since I've done several in the years past.

So this is not a birthday post. This is a post about Elissa, that happens to be on her birthday.

As I left the house this morning to go show property, my thoughts were on my daughter, my firstborn. Memories flipped through my consciousness, like a movie of her life. She's always had a will and mind of her own, even as an infant. She hated to sleep, preferring instead to look around and study everything. Her petite size led people to believe she was younger than her actual age. They were shocked when she piped up in her high voice and spoke of things way beyond her years. She was, and still is, an old soul.

I have learned so much from Elissa. She taught me about being a mother and loving unconditionally. Because her personality is very different from mine, she expanded my perspectives, shattered old beliefs, and challenged me to grow. Elissa loves horses. Watching her as a teen, as she worked with yearlings, helped me to see that raising children was less about control and discipline and more about seeing the gifts a child is born with and creating an encouraging and supportive environment to develop in.

As my daughter entered adulthood, life presented both blessings and challenges, as it does for all of us. My bright, artistic, strong, empathic daughter feels the pains and griefs of the world keenly. She is a very real person in a very false society, to paraphrase a treasured children's story. My regret, as her mom, is that years ago, I didn't know how to listen deeply enough to the story Elissa was trying to tell me, through her words and her silences, her actions and her own pain.

She continued to grow and strive and seek. I learned to hear with different ears and a bigger perspective. I learned it was okay to struggle to find your place in the world. Elissa's survival skills turned into thriving and then peace and an acceptance of her own courageous heart. She is still learning how to offer out of that heart. I am proud to be a witness to her life.

Elissa has a good man who journeys with her and each of them brought a son into their blended family. My child has raised a child. And in watching my daughter be a parent, I have seen grace and deep love and openness and sacrifice. Next week my daughter will escort her son to a university several hours away, and drive home without him. Her tender tears and strong determination to launch him successfully onto his own path touches my own heart deeply.

Recently my 18 year grandson made public that he is bisexual. I am so proud of him for his openness and his desire to live authentically as the person he is. Elissa has raised her son to speak his mind and offer his heart. He is fearless. He is the future. As the time draws near for Dayan to leave for college, Elissa got a couple of tattoos, one on each of her forearms. One is the Italian phrase cogli l'attimo…pick up this moment…hold this moment. The other is a series of dots, rainbow dots, in honor of her son. She said if Dayan could be brave enough to live his story transparently, she could be courageous enough to wear the rainbow on her arm, for him. What love.

As I neared my destination this morning, I considered what tattoo I would get, in honor of my daughter and her story. I am not going to get an actual tattoo, not at this time, but I asked aloud, in the empty car, What symbol would be perfect for Elissa? Immediately the Velveteen Rabbit came to mind. Elissa loves this story of the stuffed rabbit who becomes real through the love of his boy. The rabbit becomes a bit tattered with the joys and pains of life and love. But he becomes Real. Authentic. He Becomes. He is. And he learns once you become Real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.

Elissa has become Real. My love, her dad's love, her sister's and her brother's, her whole family's love, her husband's and stepson's love…all have contributed to her becoming. Like the Rabbit's boy and his fierce love, her boy's love, that full of trust, unconditional, straight from a child's heart kind of love, opened a space around her and within her, so that she could become Real…so she could become fully Elissa.

I drew the Velveteen Rabbit for Elissa, with his scruffy fur and his soulful eyes and his hint of a smile, on his way to becoming Real. I inked him in and colored him with my pencils. He reminds me of Elissa's courage and her great mind and greater heart. He reminds me of her love for her sons and her husband and her family. And the Velveteen Rabbit reminds me of Elissa's love for me.

"When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with but REALLY loves you, you become Real." The Velveteen Rabbit

Elissa, my child, my firstborn, the one whose birth on this date years ago made me a mom, has helped me to become Real too. My love overflows.

Spider Wisdom

I appreciate how even when I am not getting something immediately, the Divine keeps sending me messages. I have had a repetitive strand the last few days, that became more obvious today. And yet…I moved through my full day, asking what I should be paying attention to, asking how we should play, wondering what I would be writing about tonight. 

The images and thoughts that popped into my head were dismissed…until this afternoon when I suddenly realized how often I was encountering spiders, and spider webs. 

Spider Wisdom
Most people that I know dislike spiders, and a few are intensely frightened by them. Not me. I have always had a fascination and an appreciation for these little eight legged critters. In fact, as a child I used to claim a few of the garden varieties as pets, checking on them in their elaborate webs each day, tossing them flies, and talking to them as I watched them weave with gossamer threads. 

I have arachnid houses in my garden. I view the spiders as allies in reducing the number of harmful pests. The delicate white glass spider pictured above was a guest that I photographed as she rested among my lavender plants a couple of years ago. She was beautiful. This week I’ve been careful not to disturb spiders as I water in the garden, avoiding their intricate webs stretched across corners and clustered close to the ground among plants. 

Spider Wisdom
My awareness came up today, finally, after a little black jumping spider appeared in my car. He was harmless, but I started thinking about how frequently I was encountering his kind. A Facebook post from 2013 has appeared in my newsfeed for the last seven mornings, via the Memory Function. The accompanying photo features a spider web. 

Spider Wisdom

In that short piece I wrote about replacing fear with curiosity. “Fear stops you cold. Curiosity opens a way through,” I wrote. The words were true then…and they are true today. I decided to follow curiosity and research the symbolism around the spider. Because I don’t believe anything happens randomly, I wanted to see what message the spiders were bringing to me. 

I discovered that the spider is an important symbol in many cultures. I felt drawn to the Celtic stories about the spider. The Celts attribute three characteristics to the spider: The Bard is the Artist, the weaver of dreams and webs, The Ovate is the Seer, who brings fresh perspectives to life, and The Druid is the Teacher of wisdom. 

I can see those elements currently at work in my life. And I have a very strong intuition that I call my spider sense. It is like I have an invisible web extending around me, and when something brushes against that energy, I feel it. I pick up information about that person or event, energetically. However, this is not something new in my life. I have always possessed a spider sense. 

Spider Wisdom
What is this new awareness, that is so profound that it has literally smacked me in the face? A week ago, I was bit by a spider, on the chin. Missouri only has two poisonous spiders…the black widow and the brown recluse. I have both around my house. I’ve never been bitten by the black widow. I have been bitten many times by the brown recluse. Some people have a severe reaction to the venom of the recluse. My first bite took a year to recover from. However, I have built up a resistance to the venom. I can safely treat the bites at home without lasting ill effects. 

Except…this is my first bite on my face. And I should say bites, as I ended up with four distinct and painful bumps around my chin. I have not felt my best. And yet, I have healed, following my established protocol. Today the bites are almost gone and I feel much better. Although I will have my son-in-law the pest exterminator over to spray for them, I don’t resent the spiders. 

Spider Wisdom
Instead, I remained curious today, and open. What is spider telling me? What message is spider sharing by showing up so frequently in my life, and getting “in my face”?. 

These words from whatismyspiritanimal.com spoke strongly to me and answered my questions. 

Oh, Wild One. Because you’re here seeking the wisdom of Spider energy, magic, and medicine, it’s a sign your higher self is guiding you toward a deep understanding of your place and purpose in this life.

Each strand of Spider’s web connects to another, creating a whole, safe space in which you can feed your spirit. Spider knows, however, that anything worth doing is worth doing correctly. You cannot rush enlightenment. Reawakening your soul’s knowledge of the Great Mysteries can truly become a life-time’s pilgrimage.

Spider bears a message about light, darkness and the delicate balance between the two. We as humans sometimes forget there is a special beauty and power to the shadow self. By understanding that side of our being we come to embrace the light all the more fervently.

No one is perfect. Spider lets you examine your imperfections from a different perspective – one focused on creating transformation from within.

I love that message and I will take it to heart. I love that it begins, Oh, Wild One. I am feeling wild and free. I am expanding my creativity and my spirituality and my spider sense. I am becoming more aware and creating transformation from within. I am feeling connected to the spirit world. I am grateful for all the messages that the Divine sends to me and all the ways those messages arrive. 

Today, I am hearing from Spider and learning deep truths that will guide me and acquiring immense wisdom. May I continue to be an apt student. 

Spider Wisdom

A Little Cheering Ceremony

I worked part of this gorgeous Sunday, so it was late afternoon before I turned my attention back to the question I asked this morning.

How shall we play today? 

This morning I had received a quick flash, a mental image of me sitting in candlelight. By afternoon, curious about lighting candles and with no clear idea yet of what I was supposed to do, I asked the question again.

How shall we play today?

A Little Cheering Ceremony

This time, a clear image of Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in This World, came to mind. I am almost finished with this creativity book, and working through a chapter strongly appealed to me.

I didn’t know how reading a chapter in the book connected to candlelight, but I didn’t need to know. Trusting the guidance given is an important part of my journey. I grabbed the book and a pencil, and began reading.

It was on page 229 that a paragraph caught my attention, causing my heart rate to increase. Julia writes about taking the heart seriously and listening to it. She says, “A heart does not need to be told, ‘Oh, toughen up’. It needs you to plan a tiny cheering ceremony and execute it.” 

I was captivated. I love little rituals and ceremonies, reminders of my spiritual walk and the symbolism and messages that I discover along the way. I knew just what to do!

A Little Cheering Ceremony
A Little Cheering Ceremony
I lit candles throughout my bedroom, realizing this was the mental picture I was given early in the day. The string of Edison bulbs added additional soft white light to the room. I prepared hot herbal tea in a dainty vintage tea cup, for all my favorite rituals involve hot tea, and sectioned a blood orange.

I arranged a pretty tray to hold my tea and orange slices, and included a silver heart tea light holder from Scotland and a stone burner with a circle of charcoal smoldering within. When the briquette was ashen, I sprinkled dried herbs from my garden on top of it. They released an earthy scent as they burned, the fragrant smoke curling into the room.

A Little Cheering Ceremony
In the next section of the book, Julia suggested making a list of 50 things my heart loves. This seemed to me to be the perfect inclusion for my little cheering ritual. In my candle lit bedroom, surrounded by things that I love, I had no problem coming up with 50 things that make my heart sing and bring me great joy.

I could have listed hundreds of things that my heart loves. I stoppped writing at 61. I had achieved the desired conclusion, which was to recognize that I live in a “rich, savory and enjoyable world where, if I will just take heart, things are bound to work out well.”

A Little Cheering Ceremony
Before I began my little cheering ceremony, I looked up the word “cheer”. For this ritual, I adopted the meaning  – “to give support to, to encourage, exhilerate, gladden, hearten.” The word originated from the Greek word kara, meaning head, and morphed through Latin and Old French to chiere, meaning face. The sense was that cheer was an outward expression of an inward condition. Beautiful.

My little cheering ceremony brought me great joy. I loved taking the time to prepare a ritual with the intention of supporting and gladdening my heart. How very precious. How very meaningful. Cheer did indeed expand my heart, becoming an expression of quiet joy on my face.

This may become a cherished weekly ceremony.

A Little Cheering Ceremony
Check out Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in This World:

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