Posts Categorized: Life Lessons

Lovingkindness for Lily

All sentient beings need love! Lily was one of these beautiful beings.

We met her in Esperanza on Vieques Island  in Puerto Rico before the devastating hurricane Maria savagely swept the island later that year. Vieques is the land of remote beaches, great snorkeling spots, Mosquito Bay, a bioluminescent bay with dinoflagellates aka (dinos) that burst into a brilliant shiny blue light with any agitation of the water, an amazing 350 year old ceiba tree, roosters rising early and debris of weapons from the US Navy testing bomb range.

A couple thousand horses roam the island freely and seem to survive on their own, although some are branded, owned and left to fend for themselves. The horses will come right into your yard but typically are not interested in interacting with people. If you leave food for them they don’t bother with it and if you approach they walk away.  They coexist but take care of themselves. However water can be scarce and the owners of the house we rented kept an old bath tub outside in the back yard filled with water for the horses to come and drink.

We first noticed the white horse feeding in the field and saw her limp as she moved. One day she tentatively came to drink at the tub and was quickly nipped by another mare. Lily showed signs of scarring and abuse from other horses, a previous owner or perhaps both. We watched her for days and came to call her Lily. She tried to fit in with the other horses in the field, to get along and clearly wanted to be a part of the herd. I asked a local woman why they were shunning and mean to her, and she said that Lily was new to the field. Our hearts were filled with compassion as we watched her limping and surviving day to day.

One night my husband and I sat and practiced Lovingkindness for Lily for over an hour. I also spent time sending healing love through an energy practice called Attunement. The next day we woke, had breakfast and went off to a beach. Upon return I stepped out of the car and my husband went towards the house. Lily strode up the hill from the back yard and gently placed her face within inches of mine and stayed for a moment before proceeding over to my husband and sweetly standing with her face close to his. We were astonished. Lily knew we were present with her the night before and sending her love and compassion.

I don’t know if Lily made it through the hurricane Maria. I wouldn’t expect she could have but I think of her often and the thanks that she gave to us for sharing our love. I hope that one day we will return and by a miracle see Lily again. If Lily has passed I wish her the most beautiful afterlife or rebirth possible.

In loving memory of Lily,
Susan

 

 

Clearing

I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a crazy monkey mind (just ask my husband), and my energy doesn’t like to sit still (my friends will attest to this). Yet, I have learned that holding awareness in my very heart of being, creating stillness, and resting inside myself are the keys to my creativity, appreciation and joy for life.
This is a great time of year for those of us in the North to draw inward, embrace the light and dark in our lives and to do the practices of inquiry, self reflection and self care.
The beauty of nature provides me with encouragement and support for my daily practice. This sunset at my favorite park gifted me with silence, and the ability to be still and feel a vast sense of ease and peace. I have been sitting with this poem this season… hope it will inspire you to take some time for you! 


Clearing 

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.

– Martha Postlewaite

World Mental Health Day

7 Tips for Mental Health Every Day

Take a break
Research shows taking even short breaks throughout your day increases motivation, clarity, focus, productivity and creativity.

Go Outside in Nature
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” John Muir

Move & Love your Body
Exercise regularly, nourish with healthy foods and try self massage. Give gratitude for your body.

Connect with a loved One
We are social mammals, wired to connect, and we need each other.

Ask for Help
Reach out and ask when you need a hand, an ear, a meal, a shoulder.  Yes, it takes strength and courage to ask for help.

Thank a Veteran or a Service Member Today
There are over 500,000 homeless veterans on our streets. And 22 veterans commit suicide each and every day.

Stay Curious & Ask Questions, keep an Open Heart and an Open Mind!

Alive

What makes you feel Alive?

Well, for Shanti (my shetland sheepdog), it’s standing in the pouring rain, under the rain gutter, lapping up the water and getting mud soaked. Shanti has a soft tissue leg injury and is on restrictions: no ball, no running, no jumping on the bed, no tug of war, no beach runs- all the things that normally make her happy. Yet, Shanti shows us that just cause you can’t do something great all the time, you can keep a good attitude and be ready for all joyful possibilities.

Research tells us that in order to counteract the negativity bias (which is hard wired in us), we need to hold our positive feelings for 20-30 seconds and really feel its effect.  I know Shanti fully enjoys her moments as she soaks in the fun!

We’ve been hard wired for survival for many thousands of years, ever since we had to run and hide from T-Rex and friends. This mammalian instinct is a holdover from the reptilian brain and creates a negativity bias. It warns us when there is alarm, danger, or discomfort, an important survival mechanism. However, it turns on with ANY perceived threat, runs on overdrive and revs up the sympathetic nervous system that causes fight, flight, or freeze. It lights up the brain and the experience is seared into long term memory. When we lived in an age of constant threat to physical survival it was valuable to react verses responding. Better to jump and run from the “snake” then to wait and see that it was just a stick. Even though most of us no longer live in constant threat to our physical survival our brains are still wired for it.

One of the best ways to counteract the negativity bias is to make an effort to notice the good, savor  its emotional quality, feel it in your body and hold it in your short term memory.

When we are having a great time with friends, enjoying a great meal or a walk on the beach, or experiencing whatever we love, these feelings seem to fly out the back door. They never make it into long term memory, so never interrupt and mitigate our  sympathetic nervous response. We must make a conscious effort, engaging the prefrontal cortex and holding awareness of good times in our bodies, hearts, visualizations and mind!

The other day I slid my paddle board out past the dock and into the mist and fog. Gliding past the cormorants, whose faces (I could see closely) were glowing orange around their bills. The smell of the salt air was embracing me. A lobster boat moved toward the sea. An osprey or sea hawk flew over my head.  I took this as a gift for seeing clearly and avoiding any obstacles in my way. I continued around two coves, past the open sea, into the harbor and under a bridge to spy on the eaglet that I have been watching for months. The fog cleared, the sun warmed my body. I allowed the peace and beauty of this morning to wash through me. I sat on my board and felt the warmth radiate and expand, letting it flow from my feet, legs, sacrum, belly, and heart to my crown. Inhaling the sweetness up the back of my spine and down the front of my body  I stayed with this feeling of aliveness!

What makes you feel alive and what will you savor today?

Happy International Women’s Day

Too short, too fat, too old, too black.

That’s what they told the great Sharon Jones!
It didn’t hold her back.

Here’s Sharon watch this

Got any exterior criticism holding you back?
Now’s the time to let it go and Shine on dear sister!