How to Move On … When the Time is Right

goddess-deckHave you ever had the feeling that there is a next step for you to take, perhaps even a big one, but you have no idea how and when to do it?

That’s been my experience lately. It’s been more than four years since the death of my daughter, and I have slowly and powerfully moved through my grief … or at least most of it.

I no longer fall apart at the mention of her name. I have energy again, and have stopped feeling like I live in a heavy cloud of uncertainty all the time.

So I keep thinking it is time to for me to work longer and harder, and produce more to be of real service in the world. There are things to do, my busy mind tells me. A podcast and a memoir need to be finished. A course needs to be set up. And another novel needs writing. And … yet.

I hang back.

At such times, I still cling to the sweet, warm sanctuary of my grief.

How can I step out into the world again as I once did, now that I am truly vulnerable. My turtle shell of defensiveness and ambition are simply gone. I am raw, exposed, and as I get older, so much less driven.

My only ambition now is to serve God’s will … yet that will does seem to be nudging me right back to where I came from. So how do I proceed?

With caution, taking my time? Or with abandon, throwing myself into my work once again? Isn’t this just an uncomfortable ‘hump’ I have to force myself over?

This is where Teal’s Goddess Cards come in. At the end of her life, she relied heavily on Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards to help her navigate times like this. So I pulled her cards out recently.

Shuffling the deck, I held a mental image of my question: ‘Should I push myself to be more productive again?’

I pulled three cards and lay them on my desk. The card on the left was all about my immediate past.

Not surprisingly, the goddess pictured here was Ishtar. “Boundaries,” read the card. “Love yourself enough to say no to others’ demands on your time and energy.” A note also cautioned against doing things out of guilt or obligation.

An apt description of where I have been with my grief.

The middle card, which showed my current situation, pictured the goddess Ostara, for “Fertility.” “It is the perfect time for you to start new projects, access new ideas, and give birth to new conditions,” the text explained. Notably, the card was upside down, meaning I had work to do here.

Okay, so I was meant to proceed with my projects. But … how?

The card said, “Giving birth to new conditions.”

Perhaps that meant I needed to create better working conditions for myself. Like not doing things simply to make income, but doing them instead through divine flow. This would be work marked by a happy sense of ‘rightness’, ease and inspiration, instead of guilt and obligation.

This would be work done because it feels inherently good.

And that would mean trusting my process and knowing all is moving ahead just as it is meant to. After all, my needs have being well taken care of every minute of the last four years. I have had abundant time, money, health, friends … even overflowing love. I truly want for nothing.

The only time that has not been the case was when I ignored my own guidance, and attempted to push myself to work.

So why on earth am I pushing myself so hard now?

The third card I pulled, indicating what lies ahead, said it all. The goddess pictured here was Maeve, who represents “Cycles and Rhythms.” “Honor the cycles of your body, energy levels and emotions,” read the card.

Wow. The light now dawned.

There is a right time to everything, and the natural cycles of my energy and emotions will deliver me to the perfect moment for creating the podcast, the memoir, the novel, and the courses.

I don’t have to forge ahead just for the sake of forging ahead. That will help no one, least of all me.

Furthermore, I must not rush the flow of the Universe. Instead, I can join with it in an easy dance informed by love for myself and the world, and honor the notion of right timing.

This is how we create in gentle wholeness, consciousness and well-being. For there is no ‘there’ to get to , friends. There is only the whole and healthy living of each day, each minute, to the best of our abilities.

May you and I both move through our lives in ease today … and every day.

Namaste.

 

 

Eight Important Lessons I Learned When I Lost Everything

Was there ever a time in your life when you lost something very precious to you … and became better for it?

This has been very much on my mind as I prepare for a media campaign around my book, Surrendering to Joy. I wrote it as I was healing from a year of losing everything – relationship, marriage, home, career, my child and then my mother.

What I am now realizing is that this total meltdown was an extremely powerful and necessary experience. I would even say my soul demanded it, for that is how it is with crisis and loss.

Breakdowns happen because something in our system demands it.

The status quo cannot go on; we are being called upon – even forced – to grow.

When all of this came down in my own life, I was lost. I was living in a sketchy apartment building in which the super was a prowler. The flu I’d had for 6 months made no sign of stopping. I was struggling to keep my head above water in a toxic relationship. And I had blindly gone into a brand new business partnership I didn’t need or even want.

None of it felt right. And yet all of it, magically, was very right.

Everything began to unravel and that is when things started to feel better — even though the circumstances were heinous. Into that void of nothingness I walked willingly, mainly because I had no choice. Immediately, even in my grief, I could see the integrity of what was happening.

Here are some of the realizations that landed then … and still resound every day in my life.

  1. I am not alone and I don’t have to heal alone. I have many supportive circles of friends around me now, even though I had few when my breakdown began. Supportive friends make the ride so much easier. In fact, I’d say they are critical.
  2. It’s OK to be in the Void for a while … The Void, while scary at first, is an enormously creative place. If you can tolerate the stillness, eventually life returns. Ideas drop in. Joy descends. Feel free to stretch out and hang for a while. It’s a great place to heal.
  3. I don’t have to know the answers right now. Or ever, really. I just have to know what I know right now. And know that I’ll be fine. This has been a particularly important lesson for this ‘information storm trooper’, who has spent her life actively chasing information and knowledge.
  4. Grace happens when you least expect it. Again and again I have been surprised by the incredible generosity of others, which always magically arrives at just the right moment – in ways I couldn’t even plan or hope for. This grace seems to be linked to me being in the flow, the enjoyment of life. Reminder: God wants us to be happy!
  5. I won’t get ‘there’ by striving (wherever ‘there’ is.) Instead, what if life was like a great take out delivery? You decide you want Chinese, you make a call, then sit down to watch TV. Suddenly at just the perfect moment the doorbell rings and in comes steaming Moo Shu Pork. While having goals and ideas is commendable, pushing doesn’t work. Making the request and allowing it to be delivered does.
  6. I am whole and perfect just as I am. Yeah, there are rough edges and every day I say a prayer asking that my character defects be removed. Meanwhile, I’ll take ‘em. They are me, just like my various scars and wounds. As long as I do my best to do no harm, I will work with what I’ve got.
  7. I truly do have everything I need right now. My own breakdown and subsequent inquiry has meant two years of not earning much and living very simply. Which has been an unexpected delight! I find I’m attached to low cost pleasures like living with a dear friend, consignment clothing, my dumb phone and camping. And … it’s fun! More importantly, I feel liberated. I no longer do things ‘just for the money’. I don’t have to and I don’t want to.
  8. Freedom is the point. Janis Joplin wails, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” But personally, I feel richer than I ever could have imagined since my breakdown. While I may not have much by some standards, i.e. a house, a mortgage, or even a family nearby, I truly love my life and I wake up excited every day. And isn’t that the whole point?

So yeah, there’s an end to the rainbow if you follow it. And ironically it’s about seizing what is here and now.

That’s my invitation to you in this moment, this hour, this day, my dear friend.

 

12 Great Drug Free Solutions for Insomnia

older-woman-with-sleeping-mask-350I have had chronic insomnia for nearly five years. It was triggered by an unstable relationship followed by the sudden death of my daughter, both of which collided with menopause.

OB/GYN’s say insomnia is the most common complaint of the menopausal women they treat. They also report chronic insomnia can be set off by intense PTSD and grief. Only now, after several years, am I starting to get more and more consistent good sleep.

Here’s what my insomnia looks like. I wake up three to four hours after I fall asleep. I’m so wide awake I could play a hand of cards, compose a business letter, or go organize my closets. It takes hours to fall back to sleep.

I’ve tried nearly every remedy and read every book out there, some of which work better than others. I even took a seminar for health professionals about insomnia and the ‘over stimulated brain’.

I’m not one to turn to sleeping pills, sedatives or even medical marijuana as they only mask the problem. Once you stop taking them, your insomnia is still there … waiting patiently for you.

To that end, here’s the drug-free list of alternatives that have worked for me so far.

1. F.Lux. Mounting evidence says the blue light from phone and computer screens can keep you awake. The light tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime, even when it’s not. However the F.Lux app automatically removes the blue light from your phone, computer or other iOS device on a schedule that you set. This actually works! (And it’s free for Mac users.)

2. No simple carbs at night. Simple carbs like cookies, candy, cereal, potatoes, white bread and baked goods can wake you up in the middle of the night when consumed in the afternoon or evening. “Reverse meals,” advised one doctor. Eat a big lunch and just some light protein and veggies, soup or fruit for dinner.

3. Keep a sleep log at night. This helps you track just how your behavior affects your sleep. Make columns for date & sleep percentage, time to bed, time you fell asleep, number of times you woke, total time awake, final time awake, time you got out of bed, and quality of sleep from 1 to 5. At the end leave a column for notes on what varied from day to day.

Update your sleep log each morning. Then calculate this:

# of minutes slept ÷ # of minutes in bed

Keep your log for a while, then track that sleep percentage each day relative to how your behavior varies. When you get at least five days of sleep over 90% you’ll know what’s working.

4. Create a dark cozy sanctuary with an eye pillow. Removing light pollution from your bedroom is often a key to a good night’s sleep. The best way I’ve found is with a small silk bag that’s like a beanbag filled with flax seeds. Eye pillows lay across your eyes keeping the light out from, say, a partner who likes to read after you go to sleep, or light pollution from the street.

5. Write down your worries. Keep a worry log and you’ll find out just how worried you actually are. If you write these thoughts down at dinnertime and put them away, you will naturally move them through your brain more easily at night. It also helps to schedule a time when you will resolve some of these concerns.

6. Exercise daily. Even a 20-minute walk can help … but don’t work out just before bed. I find exercise takes the edge off of my natural anxiety and helps me chill out. Then I’m truly tired by bedtime.

7. Avoid alcohol. Yeah, we all know this one … personally I find it very true that when I have a glass of wine it will revisit me in the middle of the night and mess with my sleep.

8. Eliminate caffeine completely. One M.D. told me that we become more sensitive to caffeine as we get into mid-life. Furthermore, caffeine has been found to have a ‘half life’ that stays in your body an average of 5.7 hours after the buzz is gone. Certain genetic variants can keep the buzz going far longer so you sleep far more fitfully.

9. Take ground flax seed and flax seed oil for hot flashes. I avoid hot flashes most of the time by avoiding sugar. If I do, I double up on ground flax seed in yogurt. I also use a nice salad dressing of meyer lemon juice, lemon pepper and flax seed oil at lunch.

10. Keep your window open at night and use ear plugs if you need to. Simple but true. The body rests more deeply if slightly chilled. If you have ambient noise outside, silicone ear plugs are actually very effective.

11. Practice sleep restraint and keep a consistent sleep schedule. This is the single most effective remedy I have found for my insomnia. By keeping a sleep log (see #3) you will come to learn how much sleep you actually need to feel good. (Note: By mid-life, most of us tend to need less sleep than when we were younger. The average for people over 50 is actually 6.5 hours.)

Sleep restraint is modifying how long you stay in bed each night. It means getting up within three minutes of naturally waking up … whether you want to or not. So if you go to bed at 10AM and you wake up at 5:30 of 6AM, you get up, turn on the lights and start your day instead of rolling over. By the same turn keep yourself awake at night until your consistent bedtime arrives. If you have trouble staying awake, go for a brief walk. This will be uncomfortable at first but give it a few days and your body will adjust — and you’ll begin to stay more consistently.

Much of good sleep has to do with learned habit and association. So this teaches the body to use more of its time in bed actually sleeping.

12. The Relaxation Response. When my mind is racing in the middle of the night, I lie in bed and use Herbert Benson’s ‘Relaxation Response’. It’s basically a way to methodically calm the mind and relax the body. And it’s often the last thing I remember when trying to fall back to sleep.

May you find something helpful here in your quest for a good night’s sleep. I’d love to hear what has worked for you, so please leave any thoughts in a comment below. Thanks.