Sunday, August 21, 2011

Coyote, Grasshopper, Meadowlark & Dove Conspire

Animals, insects, reptiles and birds are great teachers for life if we are willing to heed their lessons. Native Americans have long held these creatures with the highest regard as communicators of wisdom. It is believed that when you have an out-of-the-ordinary experience with an animal, it is purposeful to our journey. One may encounter the same animal many times, or once in an unexpected crossing of paths.

In the last two weeks, a Coyote pup, a Grasshopper, a Meadowlark, and a Dove have conspired to present their lessons to me in an "in your face" kind of way. In three out of the four encounters, the creature was dead. I’ve been told that when an animal sacrifices itself in this way, it is so that we may be startled awake to the message loud and clear, and that their sacrifice is worthy of highest honor and respect. While I cringe over their demise, I’m honored by their selfless effort so that I may receive their message of wisdom without fail or waste.

My first encounter was during an early morning country road walk. The coyote pup must've been freshly hit during the night. Coyotes are around but never had I experienced a close encounter or a pup. While annoying to many, coyotes are regarded as teachers and creators. They are playful and very skillful, but too often look for shortcuts to get what they want, making things more complicated than necessary. There was no surprise in my understanding Coyote’s medicine because my impatience tends to “fast-forward” my journey to the end result rather than relax into it with simplicity and trust. I also lose sight of my playful side, becoming bogged by the seriousness of life. The fact that this coyote was a pup further prompts me to reawaken my childlike wisdom in response to the world and its chaos, so that I may move through it with greater poise and adaptive ability. Often as we age, we become less comfortable with and more rigid to change. Coyote invites me to keep things simple, trust in the process and its unfolding, and to rely on my intuitive faculties to adapt and move through the travel of change.

One evening, I was walking down the darkened hallway when I saw something at the baseboard; at first I thought it was a spider but when it jumped upon my closer inspection, I discovered it was a grasshopper in the house! Grasshoppers represent uncanny leaps forward and remind us to get off our haunches and MOVE; to take a chance and leap forward. Often in change, we freeze in fear, thus we take no action. We simply stay where we are and “deal” with whatever isn’t working for us. Grasshopper reassured me that my taking action was positive movement forward. But when taking action, I get impatient with the progress (notice a pattern here?). When we find things aren’t moving or flowing the way it does for others, we may feel we're left standing still while others seem to be making step-by-step progress. The Grasshopper’s long and large hind legs give it the ability to leap the distance twenty time’s it size. Grasshopper’s cameo appearance asks me to not become discouraged in my efforts and to know that there is about to be movement that will carry me forward by leaps and bounds! Grasshopper also finds the “sunny side of the mound” so it enjoys the warmth and Light of the sun, and in doing so, knows when to make its leap. Grasshopper reminds me to stay in the Light v. the Shadow of despair and discouragement, so that I may listen more clearly to my inner voice and know when to make my next move in any area of my life.

The bird was lying on the road’s edge, its form perfect, as if it was asleep. I first saw it while walking Casey one evening, and gave wide berth to keep her from investigating it. I anticipated that by morning a creature of the night would pick it up for its meal. But the next morning, and again later that afternoon, this bird remained in the same place, untouched. I picked it up by his tail feathers to move it into the hedge row that runs parallel to the roadside so its carcass would be left undisturbed by scavengers and car tires. It was then I noticed its bright yellow chest, and realized it was a Meadowlark. Meadowlarks teach the cheerful journey inward and the movement associated with self discovery. Unlike most birds, Meadowlark sings cheerily in flight where other birds sing on a perch. It lives in open meadows which symbolize positive growth and fertility. The Meadowlark offered me the lesson to find joy in going within my Inner Self to find ways to sing within my life’s conditions, and to recognize and remember that every individual event in my life is a part of the greater journey. A conspiring accomplice to Coyote, this bird reminds me that the joy of the quest is not in reaching the destination but rather in the journey itself.

Finally, today, a Dove flew into our patio door so fatally hard it sounded as if someone had thrown a rock. The Dove is my favorite bird, and it saddened me to know of its violent sacrifice to remind me to have peace as I move through this transition of what has been to what shall be. The Dove’s song can be heard throughout the day but is more distinct at dawn and dusk, the “between times” that represents the thin veil between the past and the future. The Dove helps me to remember to use this "in between" time to see the creation process active within my own life. In doing so, I am alerted to remember the promise of my future yet to be seen, while staying peacefully present in each moment of my journey. The Dove is a symbol of peace, and today, sweet Dove reminds me that peace can only be found within, never from anything or anyone outside of me or in the outer world.

The Dove and Meadowlark conspire to teach me that peace and joy are found only through the process of going within (meditation, quiet reflection, prayer, and contemplation of self) to discover that true peace and joy can only be found within. Coyote reminds me that my efforts to move forward need not be complicated, but rather simple, without struggle or drama, and to assert myself in complete trust so that I will, much like Grasshopper, move forward by leaps and bounds as I find my courage on the sunny side of up.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

An Open Letter & Relationships

“It saddens me. But I am the one responsible. I am the one that didn’t see things as they were. I was the one that was so desperate for a connection that I lowered my standards to feel less alone. I was the one who didn’t “see” or just out-right ignored the signs when they started showing up. I was the one who tolerated the inadequacies of our relationship and kept silent for too long about my feelings. I was the one who chose to ignore the issues, gave benefits of doubt not once, but many, many times in the hope that the beauty I saw beneath the veneer of insecurity, manipulation, anger (at self, others and the world), abusiveness when I stood my ground, disrespect, and saboteur choices would spring forth. I saw the real you – your heart, your spirit, that God essence within you and I stuck it out because I believed in it, in you.
But my belief in you, in your heart, in your spirit wasn’t strong enough to overcome the lack of belief in yourself.

And ultimately, in my efforts to extract that part of who you really are into fuller expression, I lost. I lost sight of who I am in the subjugation of verbal and emotional abuse demonstrated through hurtful hateful words, critical judgment, and negative falsehoods shared in covering up your inability to sustain a healthy relationship, all so that you wouldn’t have to deal with your stuff. I lost faith, thankfully for only for a brief time, in my own ability to see through the façade and appearances that served you in our relationship. In my effort to preserve your sense of self, I lost courage, perhaps even gave up my right, to stand up for myself and what I deserve as an equitable, respectful and communicative relationship with another. I lost sight of my values, my personal standards, and my principles as I re-negotiated them for your benefit and the benefit of our relationship’s survival.

But just as importantly, and the hardest of all, I lost you and our relationship because I needed to be who I am, and not change or conform to what and how you expected me to be within our relationship. Nor could I ask you to do the same.

So now, we move on and our relationship changes. I move forward with greater wisdom and a greater consciousness. I’m not sure what happened, or even how it came to pass, but I know that each of us was at choice through the entire process. I can only take responsibility for my part, and that can be a bitter taste of Humble pie that many won’t even consider trying. I lean into such opportunities because I seek to live wiser, more authentically, surrounded by people who mutually share my values and principles, who mutually value and unconditionally love all that I offer in a relationship – my feelings, my thoughts, my faults, my opinions, my quirks, my needs, my compassion, my open-mindedness, my honesty, my heart, and even, my willingness to give above and beyond (what is sometimes unhealthy for me) to make a relationship work because of my belief and ability to see the highest and best in others. So thank you. Thank you and your soul for serving as my teacher so I may be wiser, more aware and to expect more from a relationship. Thank you for being you.”

This is an open letter to everyone with whom I’ve had a relationship – work, friend, romantic, family, etc. I’ve been pondering of late the concept of relationships in all areas of my life, and somewhere along my journey over the last few years I’ve chosen less than stellar relationships. I regret none of them. But in sifting through the experiences, I must look at my state of being in and through these connections. If we are to grow, improve and change our life’s experiences, we must always look at ourselves first – how we showed up, the choices we made, and where we surrendered our values, principles, our personal standards and power. This isn’t an easy task but if one truly wants to make changes for the better in one’s life, it means taking a cold hard look at ourselves with an objective yet constructively critical eye. We must also consider information via others’ perspectives, opinions and choices relevant to those relationships – for the law of cause and effect is forever at work. For every action there is a reaction, which begets yet another action.

I am blessed to have a few sounding boards that I not only trust and respect, but who trust me to share their perspective, knowing that I value their opinion, recognizing that while I will give it serious consideration, I may not adopt it as my gospel truth. Only I can discern my own truth which reflects in how I show up in life through my thinking, my choices, my actions and my manner with others. Living a lie, pretending to be someone I’m not demands a great deal of energy and can be exhausting. Lying to ourselves is much easier, but ultimately, is less spiritually fulfilling, and will never yield the inner peace and harmony we all seek in this life. I’d rather sift through the muck of my mistakes and rise from the ashes with greater self-respect and –love knowing that what the world sees when I move through it is the authentic me. Oh, and do this enough, the taste of humble pie grows on you.