Tag: love

On Being Sensitive

On Being Sensitive

“All trees are not good trees,” she said as she leaned over, placed her hand over my arm and smiled with that knowing smile that she was right and I, because I dare to care about all trees, was wrong. It wasn’t the first time I was put in my place because I am sensitive to life.

My first memory of being ‘put down’ for being sensitive was when I was a child. My dad and I were watching a movie on television where an old man had saved, at great hardship, to purchase a piece of glass for the window in his cabin. After he bought it and installed it, his mule kicked a bucket through the window. I cried and my dad laughed at me for crying. That’s my first memory of feeling compassion and being pushed out of the tribe.

Those of us who are sensitive live in a world where we are put down, outcast, made to feel less than, called names and in general judged to be stupid or simply wrong. And because we are sensitive as part of our very nature, we sometimes feel completely out of step with the rest of the world. I know many of you are keenly aware of this truth.

It is a painful life we live until we become strong enough to recognize the bullies for what they are, until we come to value our beautiful sensitivity and champion ourselves…and even then we can get stung and so begins the process of healing that deep wound again….and again.

Because we receive negative feedback so often about our deepest, truest selves, we have difficulty believing that we are whole and beautiful. If the world mirrors back to us that empaths are silly, flakey, ridiculous then how do we believe the truth about ourselves? How do we learn to trust ourselves? How do we claim our space in the world?

Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, in her series Mother Night, that people who feel, that are sensitives, are pushed to the edge, are outcast…these people who are the artists, the creatives, the healers with their open hearts and minds…they are pushed to the fringes of society. But when this happens, she warns, the culture dies because they are not allowed to do their work, for their work is nourishment for the psyche.

I was having a rough day and asked for guidance. When I arrived home from cycling I put the sound files on my phone on random play and Clarissa’s series was what came to me…as a big answer. Listening to her reminded me that my empathic ability is my gift. My ability to feel deeply is a gift…to the world. How many of us can breathe that statement in? Try it… My ability to feel deeply is a gift to the world.

Besides the fact that we are outcast and have to deal with that our entire lives, we are keenly aware of the seemingly multitude of beings crying out in pain these days….children, families, animals, wildlife, wild places and yes, even trees. So how do we cope with this two-edged sword of empathy, of sensitivity?

I would suggest not trying to fit in to a world that tries to consistently push us out. So you want to push us out, okay. I will walk along the fringe…I will dance along the fringe and I will find those who will dance with me. I will connect with my sisters and brothers who also bear the scars of feeling in an unfeeling world. Clarissa calls us Scar Clan of the Tribe of the Sacred Heart. We recognize each other by our ability to feel deeply, love deeply and we have the audacity to care deeply.

And then I would suggest spending time to connect with our feelings of love and compassion and to do so without shame. We were taught to be ashamed of our compassion and kindness so let us un-teach that to ourselves and simply sit in stillness and silence with acceptance for ourselves….our beautiful, bright selves.

Everything is Possible

And lastly, I would suggest allowing the beautiful feelings to be expressed through the creativity we bring to the world….writing, photographing, painting, dancing, singing, speaking, connecting with Nature. What do we love? What do we feel such burning compassion and kindness toward? What are we waiting for my loves?

Sending Love to the Bullies

Sending Love to the Bullies

Still awake after waking at 2am, my mind wandered back to the little boy who broke my heart yesterday. I was working the cash register at my part-time job at a major outdoor clothing store. A man and his eight year old-ish son were at the counter looking at wallets. The boy was quiet and shy but given the way his dad was treating him, I understood why.

 

The man kept criticizing the boy, saying things like he should get a pink wallet because of how he’d been acting that day. The boy grew smaller as i observed their interaction, his dad clearly wanting those around to witness the humiliation directed not only at the boy but toward women. ‘If you have emotions you must be a woman and wear pink.’ The child was being bullied and the father hadn’t a clue what an ass he was being, how he was damaging his son.

I smiled and teasingly said to the ‘man,’ “Hey, we’re almost an all-female staff. Be careful…” The guy laughed, not understanding what I was saying and kept on harassing his little boy. Finally, I walked over to the boy and said, “My brother is a man, he hunts turkey and deer and he wears pink shirts.” The little boy broke into a huge smile for just a moment and as we made eye contact I knew he felt understood. If only for a brief time, someone was on his side.

Tears prompted me to write this as a way to send love to the boy. But I  also send love to his father who was probably bullied by his father. Shall we send love now, through our deep breath and exhalation, to all the bullies whose pain is so great the only way they feel relief is to pass it on to their children.

And to the little boy…may you find the courage to be yourself, to feel and express your emotions, to be the math nerd or the science whiz or musician or actor or writer or artist or professional soccer player….may you always be true to your heart and find support, sometimes where you least expect it.

Conscious Connection with Gaia

Conscious Connection with Gaia

For over a year when I ride my bike or walk, the same message is heard: make a conscious connection to nature. It began when I was in Ireland in February 2018. My friend and I were staying in a little holiday home that had very little heat. It snowed during the night and was quite cold. It was more than the cold weather and lack of warmth, the entire energy of the place was ‘off.’

After a night spent snuggled under the covers, I got up early and walked out with my camera. The light dusting of snow was lovely and the creek below had white frosting on the rocks surrounding it. As I stood at the top of a steep embankment, I noticed a lot of trash that had been simply pushed off the edge when the cheap holiday homes were constructed. Vines and vegetation had grown over and concealed much of it but the evidence was still there….pipes, cans, old lumber bits and pieces.

After spending over a week along the Wild Atlantic Way with pristine scenery and amazing vistas packed with raw, elemental energy, it was quite a shock and disappointment to see the mess. I ran back to the house and grabbed my new Low F Celtic Whistle…which sounds more like a flute with its beautiful mellow tone. I arrived back at the pile of trash above the creek and began playing.

Due to the freezing temperature, the sounds weren’t perfect. Not to mention that I had just purchased it and wasn’t yet familiar with the wider finger placements…which had my hands twisted like a pretzel. Regardless, I opened my heart to the place and sent love and compassion to it through the music. As soon as I began to play I felt the energy of the place shift. It was as if it perked up and took notice. I felt it communicate a sense of surprise that a human would send appreciation to it after other humans trashed it.

So I played with intention and felt a returning energy of gratitude and a soothing of hurtful wounds. Even with freezing fingers and metal that wasn’t sure it wanted warm breath moving through it, the low tones filled the frosty air with love and appreciation for Nature and all beings that lived in that area.

The idea to consciously play music for the Earth really took root within me. Perhaps it isn’t grand gestures that will shift our human consciousness but rather everyday efforts to intentionally connect with the Earth….the living Earth.

It will look and feel different for everyone but here are a few suggestions: read a poem to the Earth each morning; sing a song to Her every day; dance barefoot on Her every day; do yoga outside and work with nature energies as you move through your practice; meditate  outdoors and consciously connect with Earth Mother; write a love letter to the Earth each day and read it aloud to Her; when you’re walking outdoors speak your gratitude for flowers, trees, grasses, soil, birds, worms, butterflies; go outside and simply listen with an open mind and heart; say prayers for Mother Earth outdoors and say them out loud.

Cliffs of Moher with a new high D whistle purchased in Ireland

It’s not about changing the Earth, it’s about changing our relationship to Her. We are the ones who need healing. We are the culprits of Her destruction but we can be the purveyors of stewardship through taking the time to make a daily conscious connection to Her.

Suggestion: keep an Earth journal and note what you did and your experience during and afterwards.


Gaia, also spelled Gaea, is the personification of the Earth. Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess.

Gaia Hypothesis by James Lovelock, a UK chemist, claims the resident life forms of a host planet coupled with their environment act like a single, self-regulating system.

 

Rise Up

Rise Up

In the too often pattern of not sleeping well, my mind was reviewing the long list of things that frustrate me. I had dreamed of a therapist friend of mine earlier in the night so decided that perhaps I needed to allow my inner psychotherapist to work with my meandering mind.

Almost immediately I heard that my angst comes from a feeling of powerlessness over the many assaults on the environment, wildlife, innocent humans, the ocean, sacred lands, people of color, women…my particular list seems endless these days. Every day…every single day…I witness first-hand some destruction that pushes me to anger, sadness, and grief so enormous it’s difficult to find stillness and peace. It’s like my full-time job these days is just trying to stay sane when I see all of the meanness, destruction and abuse happening.

So if I’m feeling powerless, I’m guessing that others are as well. I know there are many people who care. There are many people who are frustrated and who wake up with anxiety, concern and breaking hearts over the brutality of the administration of the US government…and other governments and corporations who put money as ‘god’ and damn anything that gets in the way…who don’t abide by ethics or morals or even common decency. We are stressed by the state of things and more so because we feel powerless.

As I pondered this my inner therapist suggested that we use every negative thing we witness or hear about or read about as a call to open more to kindness…compassion….love. Instead of giving up in frustration, let every evil deed, every sting of anger, frustration and heartbreak be our cue to love immediately, to show kindness immediately….to open ourselves to compassion. Not as a concept or idea but as an action….an immediate action.

If I see the local state park being cleared of old-growth underbrush and get angry while cycling, send love to every plant I see as I go past. I mean…really send them love. Thank the plants for being there. Apologize for those destroying the flora of the park.

If I read about the ‘president’ creating a border crisis as a publicity stunt for his re-election campaign, allow my anger to be a cue to stop and love my dog and cats….to shower them with open-hearted affection. Take immediate action to show compassion, to take my mind and heart to a place of love…a counter balance to the other stuff.

Perhaps I read a story of polar bears starving from lack of sea ice on which to hunt and I feel overwhelming grief…I can pick up a book of poetry and go outside and read a poem to the Earth….and take my tears to the soil and share them with Her….she’ll listen.

What if I read of an oil and gas lobbyist being installed as head of the Department of Interior….I can go outside and walk among trees and tell them out loud how much I love them.

Angry at sonar blasts killing whales? Turn on whale songs and dance, opening my heart and allowing their songs to guide me to self-expression.

I suggest we create a list of ways we can open our hearts when we feel the familiar sting of anger and heartbreak over what is happening. In the moment we can too easily spiral into our grief and anger so if we create a list in advance we can access it and choose a way to remain open and direct the energy into something that helps us and puts good juju out into the world.

This isn’t a polly anna way of dealing with the insanity we face…this is the way to transmute it, to create the change we want by being the change. It’s not easy. It’s probably the hardest work we will ever do…but check it out beloveds….WE CAN CHANGE THE COURSE OF THE WORLD BY OUR KINDNESS, OUR COMPASSION, OUR LOVE.

Let us rise up. Let us create the world we say we want by taking responsibility for our reactions to what is happening. Let our anger, grief, sadness, frustration remind us to meet brutality with positive action that shifts us…real changes begins within individuals. And many individuals positively shifting their energy leads to really amazing and wonderful change on a large scale.

What’s one thing you can do today that adds compassion, kindness or love to the world? What’s stopping you?

Here’s a partial list of immediate actions of kindness, compassion and love we can take when our anger, frustration, grief, sadness is triggered. Add to it…share it with others. Let’s RISE UP!

Stop and hug your dog or cat or horse….have a favorite poem ready to read out loud to the trees…have favorite music accessible and play it and dance in joy and love….stop and smell flowers (literally)….walk among trees and talk to them and then listen….write a poem about your feelings….sing a love song to the Earth….walk in a park and notice every thing that is beautiful….write a letter to a friend….make up a funny story and write it down….call a friend to tell them you love them….play a musical instrument and imagine love pouring forth with every note….look in the mirror, look into your eyes and thank yourself for being part of the solution….write a love letter to the Earth or to polar bears or whales or whatever species your heart is breaking for and share it with a friend….use children’s building blocks to spell out words such as love, kindness, compassion…pray for wild ones, innocents…visit someone who is ill and read them poetry or a funny story…donate money to an organization or individual working to create positive change…sit in the sun and allow it to touch your heartbreak…walk barefoot on the Earth and let every footstep be a kiss for the planet…create a list of people you can call when you feel overwhelmed with grief or sadness or anger and reach out to one for support….

Whatever you do, do something that nurtures yourself, shifts your energy and from that positive change flows out into the world.

(Thanks Thom)

The Vision

The Vision

For over two years I’ve been moving through a threshold. In the Celtic way of thinking, a threshold is a place of transition where something is changing but you haven’t gotten to the ‘new’ way yet. It’s like a doorway in the realm of the psyche. Or a tunnel….and sometimes that tunnel can feel never-ending.

I remember telling our small group meeting in Inish More, Ireland, back in September 2017 I was navigating a threshold and knew a lot of changes were coming. It had begun in November 2016, when I was in northern England. I had no idea the journey through it would last this long.

A tremendous love of the planet and all life here has guided my travels, photography and writing over the past 12 years. The desire to connect with underwater realms, sacred landscapes and wildlife has fueled a passion that led to the creation of several books and presentations to schools, libraries…anywhere people would listen.

So when I kept sensing that a radical change was coming I couldn’t imagine what it could be. How could I be more in alignment with my heart’s work?

Enter a time of Void; a going into intense darkness. For a very long time. Stumbling, trembling, groping through a maze of emotions, behaviors, patterns. Mucking through a dark cave…or as I like to call it, a messy treasure hunt.

Thankfully I have had guides met along the way to help navigate this journey. First, a white horse I met in Ireland has become a spiritual companion of strength and wisdom. I feel her run beside me as I cycle and journey with me in meditation. When I first saw her, I was walking by myself in Ireland at an old beehive hut made of stone where hermit priests lived during periods of intense spiritual practice. I saw her from a distance but couldn’t reach her due to the maze of stone walls. Our group returned later that afternoon and she was standing beside the hut waiting. And each time I visited solo, she would be there.

The rocks and land and sea of the west coast of Ireland awakened me…profoundly so…to a deeper connection with the planet and myself. I would walk up, by myself each night, to one of the ancient stone forts, maybe 5000 years old, and sit 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean listening to the sea, to stars, to ancient voices that still speak if one can quieten the mind to hear.

During those walks up the steep path in darkness–with only starlight guiding me–I developed courage to walk in the dark, trusting that I would be okay. Those experiences helped me develop the ability to walk in darkness with courage.

Another guide I have had is a wholeness coach. She has been a true light in the darkness. Rose allows me to safely journey deep by holding a lantern and shining light on little gems that want excavation. Without a doubt, our work together has helped me move from a very stuck place to a place that is once again beginning to flow.

For many months it has been intense…an inner pilgrimage that has uprooted fears and shaken me to my core. In the process, parts of myself–seemingly lost lifetimes ago–are being reclaimed…really wise parts. Integration is happening. And finally, the vision is unfolding.

It’s not about saving the world or being a better photographer or writer or producing more books or giving more talks. It is about holding clearer space for love to move through and guide me. It’s about being an anchor of light for a planet in need of more light. And from that, everything will unfold.

It’s not a grand vision needed from any of us. It’s a simple vision of getting to a place where we can hold love in our hearts and let go of judgment, fear, resistance, anger, hate…the things that keep us stuck.

The most difficult thing I’ve ever done is face my own darkness….not the dark, creative realms of rich fertile, inner ground…rather, the darkness that seeks to snuff out light, like the Dementors in the Harry Potter movies. Those vile creatures gloried in despair and drained peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them. We all have at least one inner Dementor.

Each of us must come to terms with this light-stealing darkness as we open to love. Whatever it is that takes us out of the pure expression of love is what needs examination. It is hard work… maddeningly difficult and exhausting. Should you wish to make the journey know there are others of us making it as well. You are not alone. We can all shine a little light for each other.

We can lovingly take responsibility for that within us which lessens the true self, the light-self, that is wanting to shine.