Rule #2: There are NO “do-overs” in Life

Have you ever heard the lesson about how each time you step into a stream, it’s a different stream? This lesson speaks to the fact that the water in the stream is different, the rocks on the bottom may have moved, the temperature can vary, the way you walk may be unusual, and even your perspective of how you view the stream can be different from the first time it happened.

With this idea in mind, it occurred to me that Life is like that, too. We may repeat habits or patterns, think similar ideas, have on-going behaviors or relationships that don’t change for years…or so we lead ourselves to believe. The fact is, we change from minute to minute. We become wiser, more experienced, more aware.

A first-time endeavor is only a “first-time” once. Your first day of work happens only once, no matter how long you’re there or how many different jobs you have. A first kiss can happen just one time.

You can certainly repeat the experience with different people or places of employment, thereby experiencing the “newness” of that particular incident with other variables, but you cannot go back to that first time of anything or go back in time to repeat a specific act because time keeps passing on. Once something has been done, you cannot go back in time and do it over. The next time you repeat a behavior or experience is brand new and in a new moment.

As chronological time passes, this new, NOW moment is really all we have to work with. We may gain much experience and wisdom about how to do things, how the world works, and hopefully who we are as a person. However, there is absolutely no way to go back and do anything over again without having the memory, wisdom or experience of having done that something before.

Life has no do-overs. Not really. What you DO have is the ability to do things better the second or third or fourth time around. You may get lots of practice in certain endeavors, yet each is happening in a brand new moment with a greater (albeit familiar) sense of understanding about that activity. Each new moment, each new experience, comes with the opportunity to create anew!

You don’t have to do things the same way time after time. Life…Creation…God…certainly does not. We’re told that EVERY snowflake is of a unique design. So is EVERY human being on earth. Trees and animals may share a species name, and even look quite identical, but I would venture to say that even those creations are unique in their existence.

There are no do-overs in Life. No matter what has happened yesterday…no matter what messes or amends you may have to clean up…each moment of living is another opportunity to start over, to start fresh. What a gift that is! We’re not stuck in a rut unless we put ourselves there…with old thought patterns and ways of being. Who would really want to have everything be the same forever anyway!

The first thing we can change is our perspective, our way of viewing Life. Begin there. Change your thinking and see how it impacts the moments you’re living…one by one…each as bright with possibilities as the sunrise. Step into the light. Clear away old, stuffy ways of creating and being and doing. Build from them, remember what still provides direction and is valuable to you. Step into the stream of Life and surrender to the Now!

Rule #1: Consider fully the seeds you plant

It’s summer and, thus, gardening season for me. I spend most early mornings outside with a shovel, dirt, plants, and many ideas. The time with Mother Nature is very healing and also inspiring, providing answers and guidelines by which to live all parts of life. So, today begins my “List of Rules” by which to live and create a life of quality, simplicity, balance, and wholeness.

Gardening (and Life) Rule # 1 : Consider fully the seeds you plant.

Seeds, like thoughts, have far-reaching effects once they take root. I’m not talking about the fleeting thoughts, the ones that are gone as fast as they arrive, but the ones that you continue to mull over in your brain and that take root in your being. You start talking about them with your family and friends or posting them on social media…and then you begin to live them out loud.

By the time you get to the point where you are endorsing your thoughts and ideas with action, I would pray that the effects of your behavior are positive and uplifting rather than hurtful or intrusive.

Years ago I planted a lovely shrub, known as Russian Sage. This plant is drought tolerant, rabbit resistant, and self-propagating. It has oily, light green leaves and stems with small purple flowers similar to lavender, including its scent. The shrub can grow to a height and width of about two feet. And then the baby shrubs start showing up.

Left unattended for the most part, which I did for several years, the baby sage stems expand from the main plant at what seems to be an amazing rate…until at last…they’re growing in the grass, the flower beds, between rocks, and everywhere their underground root system can go.

All of a sudden (not really), this lovely shrub has become an invasive nuisance…simply because I was not paying attention to the way it was manifesting right in front of me. I did nothing about it and it took over. The effort to remove the additional growth as it was happening would have been relatively easy to do. However, after years of rampant expansion and unmonitored growth, digging out the deep and woody roots from the compacted clay takes hours and hours of difficult shoveling and intensive labor.

The same is level of effort is necessary in our human thinking when we discover certain patterns of thought are impacting our lives in unhealthy ways. It’s often hard work. Sometimes we need help.

We may need to have someone point out to us that a behavior or comment we make so casually is actually very hurtful, not funny, or unloving. Sometimes our reasons to “help” someone (especially with adult children) are actually a method to retain control over them. Whatever justification we tell ourselves to stay angry and resentful about something only plants deeper and more painful thorns of hurt around our lonely hearts. Left unchecked, such detrimental thoughts, words, and behaviors will eventually invade all areas of your life with sad and negative results.

The parent shrub I planted years ago was only doing what it was made to do: live, expand, blossom, etc. It did not require assistance from me to grow. Nothing negative about that.  It only became intrusive when I stopped paying attention to its patterns of growth and did nothing to correct it…up until now.

The same is true about a thought. Which ones are you paying attention to? Feeding and nurturing? Or weeding and removing (healing, forgiving) from your consciousness?

When I started this shrub-removal project a few days ago, I swore I’d NEVER plant that sage shrub again. I’ve changed my mind.  I will. I like the plant and the lessons it has provided. It is a “sage” after all. But it will be planted in a container that allows it to grow without becoming invasive and that I can more easily monitor.

Stay vigilant. Be aware. Make the effort to clean up those thoughts that no longer serve your highest Good, your God-Self. Consider fully the seeds you plant.

Finding Home

I find myself in a blissful state of gratitude these days. I’m filled with awe at the grace and abundance all around and in my life. I am surrounded by love and joy and a deep feeling of contentment for who and where I am.

It helps that the latest medical results from an overdue checkup validated what I knew to be true all along, that I am healthy in all areas of recent concern. However, I’ll admit that the confirmation brought a little sigh of relief to my lips and a deeper sense of peace to my mind.

It was in this state of appreciation for my body’s ability to heal itself (with conscious and positive support efforts from my daily habits) that I decided to take the long way home on my drive from the new medical center. I investigated the giant fieldhouse and park under construction on the west side of town. I passed the orange cones in one area, a sign that another road was being resurfaced. I could see raw wood on roofs in a growing subdivision across the valley. And as I drove through the historic part of town, new businesses were announcing their arrival in the community with banners and balloons.

Everywhere I turned there was a sense of growth and new life thriving in all its joyous glory! Perhaps it’s because summer is about to arrive, school is complete for the year, the sun is finally shining after days of clouds and tornado threats, outdoor activities are expanding, or a combination of all of it. I was part of the aliveness and added my own energy to the lovely day.

I have lived in this community almost 20 years. There are still many town events in which I have not participated. My preference has been to stay close to my own neighborhood, shop at the same favorite stores, walk the nearby paths, and listen to the distant highway traffic from the comfort of my lovely deck. This is generally all I need to satisfy the citizen part of me. No need to be in the thick of things. It’s enough to know they’re taking place.

Yet today I felt like I was involved and part of a bigger picture. I joined the throngs of town neighbors to support an annual event in the heart of town. It was a short walk from home. An easy commute. I like that there are times like these when I can say, “Why, I remember when…” and I become part of its history, part of the fabric from which a lovely tapestry is being fashioned. I’m going to do more of this.

No longer do I wish for a different or new place to live. If I want newness or a change of scenery, all I need do is take the long way home and open my eyes. In fact lately I’ve become resistant to ideas of moving or traveling afar; there’s still so much to see and do right here. I long for the presence of family members who have recently moved to other states, but I no longer wish to follow them. I’m not done here yet.

This is where I find sanctuary and rest. This is where I’ve done so much healing and growing, with more to accomplish. This is where I love to explore and have learned to thrive. This is my community. I’m finally home.

Published in: on June 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Up & Down the Rabbit Hole

One of the gifts of going through challenging circumstances – ones that sometimes feel like we’re falling down a deep, dark hole – is to discover what we’re made of. How do we react or respond in those situations? Do we come from fear or do we meet the situation with wonder and curiosity and resolve?

As I drove my large SUV down the highway one evening recently, a weird noise started coming from the front part of the vehicle. At first I was curious. I didn’t go into panic mode until it sounded like something was falling out in bits from the engine and bouncing away under the vehicle. A roadside inspection revealed nothing – no leaks, no obvious broken parts, no damage to the truck. Yet each time I pulled back onto the highway, there was a new alertness in my being, waiting for the sound. It did not disappoint my expectations.

Fortunately, I was able to make it home safely that evening and get the SUV to the mechanic’s shop the next morning. Apparently whatever has gone wrong is deep within the mechanisms of its driving functions. It’s fixable, of course. It will just take time, money, and someone else’s expertise to make this right.

While I wait for the quote on what the repairs will cost, I’m grateful. Grateful this situation didn’t happen just a few days earlier when I was traveling across the country and on some rather remote roads, with no cell coverage. Grateful it took place at a time when traffic patterns were light and easy – not during rush hour nor while on the way to some important engagement. Grateful our family includes an auto mechanic who is willing to help diagnose the problem on a holiday evening and be a liaison for us through the repair process. Grateful that, while I’m not particularly fond of paying for large (or small) vehicle repair bills, at least I have the resources to do so if needed. Grateful that my trip down the fearful rabbit hole was quite shallow this time. Grateful I can surrender the situation and know there is a higher purpose at work here.

I’m discovering how much easier life is when I accept the “what is” of any holey situation (pun intended). It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken vehicle, an injured relationship, or a resistant attitude. There’s no need to label the situation positive or negative. There is so much of life we have no control over or even influence about, except for how we will respond (react) to it. Sometimes surrender is the only wise option.

In those situations where we do have control or influence, I endeavor to make my choices from a place of strength, courage, peace, and love. We always have the choice to detach any emotional response from what we’re facing and see it for the cosmic experience it is – an opportunity to grow. How difficult the experience becomes is up to us. Suffering is optional.

As I become more successful at staying near the surface of life’s holes, I’ve noticed that they are definitely not as deep nor as scary as they used to be. Some are even totally avoidable unless curiosity takes over. Others are just a passing shadow and warrant only a smile and a wave good-bye…just in time for the arrival of the next growth experience.

 

Intuition (a poem)

Whenever I’m confused or lost,

     I take a moment, breathe and pause.

I listen to God’s voice within,

     to guide my choices and my wins.

I get guidance and direction,

     and respond with love’s affection.

I know what’s right when I listen

     to my Divine Intuition.

Copyright 2/22/14 Carla Ryan

Published in: on March 1, 2014 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Z is for Zenith… Spirituality A to Z

As I come to the final chapter of this series, I’m again surprised by what Spirit provides as inspiration and how perfect it is. When I think about “Z is for Zenith” it makes perfect sense that this would be the final topic of these many Spiritual ideas …and the culmination of this journey.

The Zenith of something can have celestial meanings, such as the “highest point above the observer’s horizon.” It also refers to a culminating point of success or achievement. It brought to my mind the idea that we’ve gone through these past 25 writings with the express purpose of developing a stronger Spiritual practice …toward greater enlightenment …toward deeper peace …toward whatever reason one takes such an inward journey…to arrive in this moment.

When we arrive at the highest point of understanding or a clear understanding of our God-path, we might think the journey is over or that enlightenment is now ours. We tell ourselves we have arrived! And perhaps, for awhile, we are satisfied with that achievement.

However, what this tells me is that this is the Zenith of this moment …of this understanding …of this stage of Spiritual development. Once our human thinking adjusts to the current mental state – and eventually gets bored, as it always does – it’s time to move along to the next Zenith, the next highest point of observation or growth.

There are times when I think, this is all I want to learn; this is enough. Call it laziness, complacency, or giving up. It never lasts long. It can’t. There is that Divine urging – sometimes referred to as Divine Discontent – that is continually pushing us forward. It inspires us. The still small voice guides us. The cosmic two-by-four might even knock us upside the head to get our attention in some way just so we don’t stay stuck in our smallness of life.

Whether you know it or not, there is always more of you to discover! Your mind and potential are vast, deep, and filled with possibilities. There are no limits to what you can do when you put your mind to it – and stay focused on your intention(s). The same is true for me …for everyone.

As I write this last installment of “Spirituality A to Z” the voice within is already directing me to my next form of expression …in writing …in living …in teaching or sharing …in being more of me and who I came here to be.

God’s not done with me yet. God’s not done with you either. Let’s give it all we have. Live fully and completely every day of Life. This is the only day we have.

Y is for Why… Spirituality A to Z

The more I explore the depths and intricacies of the ego-self, the shadow side, the more discoveries I make toward resolving any challenges it presents to my peace of mind.

One question, learned in early childhood by many of us, and that continues to present itself from time to time, is “Why?” At first glance this might be an innocent enough question.  We seek to discover the reasoning or motivation behind an action, behavior or decision. However, the more I’ve explored this question or any answer it might generate, the more I’ve learned that the ego-self will never be satisfied with the response…any response.

No matter how well a person answers “Why?” – there can always be yet another “Why?” that follows…to infinity. It’s the disbelieving child inside each of us that relentlessly pursues such a line of questioning. It’s that part of us that will never be satisfied with disappointment or past mistakes, which is often when “Why?” comes up.

There is NO adequate answer to the question “Why?” that will ever satisfy the ego’s discontent with the past or what is behind us.

Think about it: do we ask this question when everything has gone well and successfully? Do we dare consider any of the bad when all we see is good? It’s only when we have doubts that this question creeps into our consciousness…and then, repeatedly so. It can be very annoying. It also takes a concerted effort to stop this unproductive habit. Rarely is the question directed in support of or to validate a person’s efforts.

The question “Why?” looks primarily at the past, something that has already occurred and apparently requires some type of justification. You can’t do anything about the past anyway. If amends are needed or restitution is required, you can’t go back and do over what was done. If there are corrections to be made, you start in this moment.

Bring yourself into the NOW. Start by asking, “What can I do in this situation?” or “What change can I make in myself to resolve this matter?” or “What’s the next right step for me to make?” Start from where you are. And sure, maybe an apology is needed or doing some forgiveness work. The act of healing can always use a bit of compassion and understanding.

But posing “Why?” in nearly any situation is like rubbing salt in the wound; it just makes matters worse. It’s coming from the ego’s need to be right, to make someone else wrong, or to lay blame and then shine it in a spotlight so someone gets hurt or feels even worse about themselves. What’s the point? Where’s the love and compassion in that?

For your own peace of mind, ask a different question…and have it be one that starts with anything EXCEPT “Why?”  Then see what your ego-self does with that!

X is for “X factor”… Spirituality A to Z

While we may sometimes think of “X” as something to indicate stopping or a form of blockage, the meaning behind “X” has long been for me one of crossing-over or becoming something new. Recently, however, its meaning has reached even more significance. Perhaps you can relate to it as well.

Years ago I learned to use the capital letter “X” to mean “trans” whenever I was taking notes. Thus, words became Xportation, Xlation, Xfix or Xcription. This connotation can also be applied to words such as Xcendence and Xformation.  When I Xition it to the Spiritual realm, the meaning of “X” takes on a more powerful meaning.

The idea of “X” as representing a crossing-over (one form to another) is still apparent in my mind, but there’s something more. I see a movement of thought that is increasingly similar to multiplication. In fact, when I learned the multiplication tables in school, we often used a small “x” to indicate the exponential increase of two numbers. For example, 2 x 3 = 6 or 473 x 29 = 13,717. One little symbol that increases wherever it is applied.

When I use the big “X” to fill in for part of a word, it now represents a larger concept of that word, too. Transcendence (Xcendence) is not just going beyond or rising above, it’s GOING BEYOND!!! RISING ABOVE!! Somehow, using the “X factor” takes the root of the word to a whole new and expansive level.

The same is true for Xformation. There’s a lot more to it than what this word alone implies. I’m talking about a significant and revolutionary evolution that is worth noting. Something new and wonderful is being birthed, whether it’s an idea, a way of doing things, a project or goal, or a new way of expressing in the world. It is a crossing-over from past to future ways of being or form. It’s emerging from what was to what can be. That’s an exciting prospect!

It takes trust and sometimes great courage to initiate change from what has always been to an invisible future possibility of greater proportions. Anytime we add this “X factor” of movement, of going in another direction, we are faced with leaving something behind. That can be a part of us we choose to change, a habit we want to break, or a new way of living we want to experience, leaving behind the old. The cycle of life is apparent everywhere.

What is it for you? What part of you have you been thinking of expanding to a greater degree? Where in your life would you like to see it multiplied by “X”?

The letter “X” is no longer just a couple of well-placed sticks crossing each other. This is a symbol of movement and growth. It can be applied anywhere you can imagine. Play in the realm of possibilities. Your ideas expand in “X” ways and times. Just imagine!

W is for Wisdom… Spirituality A to Z

After asking the question “What should ‘W’ stand for in this series?” I decided to stick with the one that showed up first – Wisdom – because of its varied applications.

We indeed have available to us the Spiritual Wisdom of the Universe (God) through tapping into that intuitive knowing we carry around with us at all times. As we become more aware of our Divine Self, our God Nature, Spiritual consciousness expands to higher expression, increases in depth and intensity, and becomes our guide to living a life of truth, faith, and love.

The greatest of all Wisdom is the God Intelligence that expresses through all of life…through you and me and the rest of the universe. Its purpose is to create. Its direction comes from a divine intention and eternal presence of love, and moves only and always toward Good.

We have the Divine birthright to co-create, to get involved in this life-construction process and determine our own direction. Often the results show how we can so easily muck-up those intentions for Good …that we have a lot to learn. It takes a wise person to surrender to Divine Intelligence for our own highest and best good, and for the good of others around us.

Another expression of this Intelligence is the body’s Wisdom; its ability to heal, mend, and manage our human forms without any direction from us. When it seems to take too long to heal or we don’t care for ourselves properly so that it can, we have the option to seek outside resources (e.g., pills, ointments, infusions, etc.) to accelerate the healing process…or so we think. For some reason we have learned to avoid pain so much that we are often intolerant of even a little.

Pain is the body’s voice to let us know something is wrong, something needs our attention. I’ve often witnessed, however, that people would rather mask the pain than heal the cause of it. That applies to physical pain as well as emotional and mental anguish. From Oprah Winfrey we get, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Learn from what you’re doing to harm yourself…don’t hide it or suppress it. Go through it. Give your body the attention, nutrients, exercise, love, and support it needs to fight its unhealthy invaders and protect your soul’s carriage.

And finally, there is the Wisdom of the ages and sages; the philosophy that has been and continues to be handed down from one generation to the next through eons of time to guide us through the travails of earthly life. Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” And from Socrates we learn, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

One of my life goals has been to become a woman of wisdom. I look at my past experiences and know I have learned much through this earthly journey. I would have been just fine without going through some of those situations, but I’m not sure I’d be who I am today without them. So I am grateful for all of it.

Some say I have achieved my goal, that I am a woman of wisdom. Perhaps. However, like Socrates, I continue to see that there is so much I do not know yet I am willing to learn, that this is just the beginning. In other cases, there is much to learn but through discernment or apathy, I have no desire to know. Would a wise person turn away from an opportunity to know more? In this case, yes. I’d prefer to follow the advice of Albert Einstein: “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.

Like Ernest Holmes, I believe that in all this getting of life’s achievements, it is best to get understanding. Through that endeavor, I will find wisdom. And so it is.

V is for Voice… Spirituality A to Z

When you think of “Voice,” what comes up for you? Is it the “still small voice” of your God-Self within that is first and foremost in your consciousness? Is it the ego-self with its critical overtones that jumps front and center? Or is it a combination of the two, a Spiritually-based yet human voice, desiring to be heard in the world?

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate more is a person’s desire to be heard. I’m sure that is the subconscious force that drives me to write this blog week after week. I’m validated by the blog statistics that show at least a few people have read some portion of these published thoughts… that we have connected on a topic for a few minutes.

My “Voice” or your voice takes many forms. It can be the spoken or written word…photographs…painted canvases… sculptures… music… dance… or reaching out to another through a hug or gentle touch. We express our Divine Nature and human nature in a variety of ways. When we do (and I know this is true for me), it’s validating to get some form of positive acknowledgment in return. It can be empowering, too.

While it would be lovely to have everyone agree with me and all my ideas, the reality is that doesn’t always happen. Yet, knowing I am heard through some form of acknowledgment or response encourages me even more to reach out to those around me…to share more of me…to serve.

This revitalized awareness has also impacted some of the ways I’ve been communicating and increased my efforts in other directions. I recently began a practice that is taking me beyond my routine methods of reaching out. I now write a short letter, a note card in length, to someone…every day. Well, at least five days a week. After I do my morning spiritual readings, add to my growing “gratitude list,” and spend a few minutes in contemplative meditation, I pick up my pen and share a part of me with someone I care about. The act of writing down some interest, viewpoint or recent experience (or memory)…of sharing it with just one person in that moment… becomes very intimate, very connecting.

I get to be with that person in consciousness, to share a common bond. Through this process I’ve discovered a willingness to reveal more of my authentic self. I find that my Voice – the “I AM” part of me – is getting stronger and more confident. I’m learning to trust the God-Nature, my Spiritual Voice, to a greater depth as I recognize the being I’ve become and am becoming. And it’s not about whether I get a response or not, although that would be an added bonus to enjoy.

My gift comes in the moments of connection I feel as I think about that person and share myself, my thoughts, with them. It’s in believing that their day will be uplifted when they open the envelope. My gift also is recognizing I have so many people in my life that I care about.

Other gifts that have come about include: creating time on my calendar to connect with friends and family in person, not just on social media websites; putting down my phone while having a conversation with the person in front of me; even leaving it in another room or turning it off (OMG!) during a social event. I’m feeling less concerned about the “what” of projects, and more interested in “who” is being served. I’m even thinking about taking vacations. Imagine that!

This new Spiritual practice has softened me…and at the same time, strengthened my connection to life. Through giving “Voice” to my authentic God-Self with those I love, I am more receptive to listening to those needing to be heard, wanting love, or desiring recognition and connection. I can do that. You can, too.

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