AltarI’m a dreamer, and I respect (and sometimes remember) my dreams, in all their vivid and jumbled details. I made it a hobby more than thirty years ago to study them, at one time logging three or four dreams a night for several months. This has offered a window into the subtle realms of healing. From time to time, I delve deeply into the symbols and the details. This is great entertainment, but often there’s way much TMI to decode or recall. Over time I’ve found reason to trust the process, which is beneath and beyond what my conscious mind can grasp.

But the dream images that have truly informed my life are very simple. Once, many years ago, when I was recovering from depression, this: An armoire. Some sunlight. Two hands moving a plant from the dark and into the light. Nothing more.

This simple image has transformed my relationship with the Mystery of Life.  After that dream, I stopped believing that I needed to work harder to find the meaning of life or to force that meaning on myself or others.

There was such a profound gentleness in that dream invitation to nurture the growth of my tender inner world.  I discovered the kindness that grows from self-love and awareness. Forever after that dream, when I’m lost or in the dark, I imagine those hands moving me gently to a new way of being or seeing.

No bells and whistles. One simple image, remembered in a twilight state, a gift of Life. A gift for life itself.

Last week I woke up from dreaming with another powerful lingering image. I am with other people who come and go and then return to the altars they tend. There’s some visual recollection of a variety of altars, draped and decorated, each different than the next.

These images have been stalking me since then. On first thought, the dream seemed to represent the people I mentor from day to day. We talk. They return to their lives. I see that there’s a growing awareness of what brings them light. The flower of the dream has developed buds. With light and attention, the buds grow.

Then, as I have learned to do, I turn the dream around to my life. Where are the altars of my life? The blossom gradually opens: My home has many little altars everywhere.

I often see nature’s offerings as little altars when I walk in the woods, communing in silence.

My body. How do I treat my body as a sacred vessel, placed on the altar of Life Itself? This is a fertile ground for inquiry.

And then the last big question: What if my life itself is an altar? Now there’s an image that can bloom and slowly unfold. An altar for a Lifetime.

The amazing altar in this photograph was designed by Beth Tweedell and Jan Dymond

 

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Flowers growing out of handThe early warning signs are so subtle at first… a swelling of the limbs, a softness of the breeze/breath, a whiff of possibility. I’ve usually been so busy DOING, strategizing and reacting to the demands of winter, that I barely notice the change around me.  After all, my inner Drama Queen insists, we’ve been under siege, and Important Things must be done. Click for Full Article

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Charms, Amulets and a Blessed Life

March 25, 2014 Aging with Grace
Charm bracelets were all the rage when I was a teenager. Tiny replicas of the Eiffel tower, new bikes, tiny dog figures, and figure skates tinkled from the wrists of the Popular Girls. I admired the look and the high style, but I never expected that I’d be in the circle of lucky ones who could afford such a wondrous thing. Even if… even if I did get a magical white box from the local jeweler for my birthday. Even if… Even if there was a gold bracelet inside. Even if…. that came to be, what good would it be? What charms would I wear?
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Giving Up the Bone and Proving Myself Wrong

March 18, 2014 Byron Katie's Work
A few days ago it happened. Again. I was wrong. I hate that. I had imagined how I would fit a couple of important gatherings with friends into my evening, sandwiched between two long trips. But my mind didn’t stop with logistics.

It found a bone to chew on, a way to try to manage lots of things that were none of its business.
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Discovering my Inner Neanderthal

February 18, 2014 Inquiry
My Christmas present to myself this year involved gathering saliva. First I had to collect it in a very little vial. It turns out that this isn’t a small thing. After sitting there for about a half an hour, imagining grapefruits and lemons, I had enough to send it to 23 & Me, an organization devoted to opening the secrets of your personal genetic code. I just received the results today. I open the virtual envelope. Drum roll, please….and…
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Snow Viewing: Lantern Optional

February 11, 2014 Coming Home
Today so far I’ve moved from one window to the next, staring at the stark whiteness draping the trees outside. It’s the Biggest Snow since we moved here 35 years ago, about a foot and a half. I’m stunned into silence with wonder of it, with the ineffable beauty of contrasts. The fifty or so large oak trees visible from my window have exchanged their emerald capes for something softer and less enduring.

The beauty is so exquisite that I can’t seem to breathe it in for very long at all without wanting to own it. I try a little photo shoot with my phone.
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Groundhog’s Day and the Same Old Loops

February 1, 2014 Getting Unstuck
Today I awoke with the scenes from Groundhog’s Day (the Movie) dancing through my head. Not a big surprise. just when when my mind is seeming a a little more peaceful and this body is feeling stronger as a result of my focus in intention in the new year, I get a Change Back Attack. This is personal growth malady that usually includes certain symptoms: fogging out when eating, dropping exercise from my list for four days. and believing the old loops of thought that drove me to make resolutions in the first place.
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Catching a Wave with Your Future Self

January 29, 2014 Getting Unstuck
Every year I usually join in the fun of flipping over the old leaf and welcoming a New Me. Boosted by the ads for health and vitality all around me, I ride the wave of people who want change, who want to see results. This year my modest resolutions weren’t even creative. I changed up my exercise, got myself out for longer walks, went back to strength training, and attended yoga classes that weren’t always labeled “gentle.” Oh yes. And I cut out sugar. Just a few small steps to self-improvement. The part of me that loves challenge is enthusiastic about catching the Big Wave and believes she can ride it to the shore.
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Gracious Living on a Stuck Elevator

January 21, 2014 Aging with Grace
I spent most of last week staying in my very own suite at a Gracious Living retirement center in Missouri. The blustery January weather and my mother’s limited mobility kept us indoors, relying on the elevator, which was the only way to access her apartment from the rest of the building.

When I first arrived, I skidded into the place with a screeching Wiley Coyote stop. Next I had to figure out that my mindfulness practice didn’t include taking on the halls as if I were in a video game with the goal of dodging walkers and wheel chairs.
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Welcoming Janus: Looking Forward, Looking Back

January 13, 2014 Getting Unstuck
Doorways and gates. Passages between what was and what is yet to be. A time between times, a time full of potential for transformation. The Romans knew a bit about the power of transition when they named their very own new month January, after Janus. Janus was a powerful Roman god who held the keys to enter all gates and presided over new enterprises. He had two faces: one looking forward and one backward.
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She Let Go

December 11, 2013 Poetry
Last week a dear friend sent me a copy of a piece I had read long ago. It was like being zapped by a magic wand, bringing this Queen of the Universe to a new sense of alignment. I had read it before, but so much depends on timing. Maybe I thought before that I could just let go just a little. Maybe I thought it was a cool idea. Maybe I wasn’t yet ready to take that Giant Step … or Leap. But today I am. I share it with you as a light and humorous and deep reminder. But more, it’s an invitation. As simple as that.
Join me?
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Welcoming the Queen of Kindness

December 10, 2013 Byron Katie's Work
Lately I’ve been hanging with the Queen of Kindness, one of the personas of the Queen of the Universe. She has gifted me with a sense of clarity, some R&R, a greater sense of peace.

But I happen to know that, under her surface, lies the Red Queen.
Some days I can even believe that she’s in charge of the future and it should go her way.

Off with their heads! She shrieks when the Universe doesn’t cooperate with her plans.

Bless her heart.

She’s so innocent in her attempt to hold things together. She sincerely believes that she has The Big View, that she can predict the future and avoid mistakes. She whips herself into shape, continually. And then, as if that’s not painful enough, it becomes her task to do this for almost everyone around her.
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Avoiding the Holiday Tangle: Beware the Season of the Lie

December 6, 2013 Byron Katie's Work
The stories we tell our kids about Santa are basically innocent; the ones we tell ourselves are far worse because they tend to erupt from the depths when we least expect it.  It’s worth the effort to look at what beliefs tend to drive holiday frenzy. Here are a few that I turned up for […]
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Surrender, Queen of the Universe

December 3, 2013 Confusion to Clarity
I often want things to go my way. Like almost always. After all, I have a bit of life experience to drawn on. I often seem to think that I can predict the future based on this experience. It turns out sometimes I can’t. Like almost always. It’s true that my life experience gives me […]
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Resistance and Freedom: Ebb and Flow

November 18, 2013 Coming Home
  “We change like the weather, we ebb and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon. We do that, and there’s no reason to resist it. If we resist it, the reality and vitality of life become misery, a hell.” ~Pema Chodron. This past year I’ve been exploring this thing we […]
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Beyond the Persistence of Resistance

November 12, 2013 Getting Unstuck
“What you resist persists.” – Carl Jung. Projects are looming in my world. Some big. Some little. But they all loom, like a cloud over my head. Always there. I’ve come to understand that this is good news. It means I’m getting very close to a new breakthrough of my heart’s work. I can know […]
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The Gift of Boredom

November 6, 2013 Getting Unstuck
Recently several long-time clients and friends have shared their sense of boredom. “Life just seems too calm. Flat. Like there’s no problem, sure, but also no excitement. What do I do about it?” Nothing, I think, getting very excited. Because this is what I keep learning over and over: boredom is the first sign of […]
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Resistance and the “Here 2 There” Trail

October 30, 2013 Confusion to Clarity
(This is the second of a five-part navigational series on the nature of “resistance,” exploring its challenges and hidden gifts). There’s a trail in the ancient forest near our summer cabin. It’s a tiny footpath with a story that many years ago the trail was laid by lovers who beat the path from the top […]
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Resistance is Not Futile

October 24, 2013 Getting Unstuck
I procrastinate. Often. It’s a habit.  When I’m about to do something that requires a stretch, I immediately develop a bad case of Got to Do This! I tell myself that something else, anything else, is more important.  That I simply must react to what’s in front of me, that thing that in the moment […]
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Not a Pumpkin

October 1, 2013 Coming Home
I’m dressed as the Great Pumpkin, the easiest costume I’ve ever assembled, since I’m due to give birth in roughly ten days. All that’s needed is an orange sheet and a couple of touches with black construction paper. Here I am, spending four days at a small retreat with Ram Dass, deep in the woods.
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