How to Deliberately Create Your 2017

The start of each year gives us the opportunity to put our attention on what we choose to create. So I’m sharing our formula for setting and activating our New Year intentions, in hopes that it will help you create your 2017 more deliberately.

Step One: Review and Release 2016
After the holidays, when our home quiets down, my husband and I review the intentions we set a year ago, for the year that’s ended. We celebrate our wins and learn from our misses.

We pay attention to what was easy to accomplish, what was harder—and what didn’t happen. We note our biggest obstacles. We honor our biggest support. Once we’ve reviewed the old year, and mined all the lessons from it, we’re ready to put our attention on the new year.

Step Two: Feel What’s Possible for You in 2017
Individually, we each imagine, or “feel into” what we want to create—in our careers, our finances, our health, our relationship, our communities.

It can take days or weeks for our desires to coalesce and crystalize into a vision of what we want to create. We’re tender with ourselves—and each other—when we’re in that “feral-kitten” stage of coaxing our desires to show themselves, to take form in our imagination. At this stage, I need to talk to my husband or a mastermind partner, to have them hold sacred space as I give voice to my longings and weave words around my desires, to give it form.

ezinejan2017c

Step Three: Weave Your Desires into Written Intentions
When we’re ready, we each list our individual intentions for the coming year. Putting our intentions into writing adds creational power to them. Writing our intentions can be even more powerful when we know the difference between goals, resolutions and intentions—and how to best word our intentions.

How is an intention different than a goal or resolution?
An intention is a bit different than a goal or a resolution.

  • A goal is the purpose toward which your effort is directed, like “I’m going to lose 10 pounds.”
  • A resolution is a firm decree or formal statement, like “I’m going to be a size 8 by spring.”
  • An intention feels more all-encompassing, specific, and powerful than a resolution. An intention is focused on the benefit, to you, in present time, of the specific life-style changes you choose. “In 2017, I enjoy eating well and getting lots of exercise because I love being healthy and strong” is an intention.

I think of an intention as a goal or resolution with forward momentum. Intentions move our attention toward the benefit of what we prefer to create, allowing us to create what we prefer with more ease and grace!

Turning Your Goals or Resolutions into Intentions
If you usually set New Year’s goals or resolutions, you can empower them by turning them into intentions. To do that, ask yourself the following questions for each resolution:

  • What are the specific life-style changes I need to make to achieve my goal?
  • What will I enjoy having, doing, or being when I’ve achieved that goal?
  • How can I phrase that benefit in present time, so instead of creating the feeling of wanting or desiring the benefit, I’m creating the feeling of enjoyment NOW, during the process?

This allows us to access the satisfaction of the benefit we are working toward as we are moving toward it, not just after we’ve achieved the final result.

Step Four: Add Images to Your Written Intentions, to Activate Your Right Brain
ezinejan2017dOur written intentions activate our logical, linear left brain. But we need the holistic creative right brain on board to make creating what we prefer easy and fun.

So find images (photos, magazine images, art, greeting cards) that make you FEEL the JOY of manifesting your intentions. I recommend you put those images and intentions where you’ll see them daily. Here are some ideas:

  • you can tape them on your bathroom mirror
  • you can create a vision board (see my FREE GIFT below)
  • you can add them to your Feng Shui altars (more about this in my next e-zine!)

Step Five: Activate Your Intentions in a Powerful Ritual
Our ancestors who lived by the Celtic Wheel of the Year, knew that the most powerful day of the year to activate intentions is Imbolc, in early February. In my next e-zine, I’ll share more about how to activate your New Year’s intentions with an Imbolc ritual.

Let me know if these tips are supportive for you!

Want more peace and ease in your home this holiday?

Creating Peace, as you Decorate your Home for the Holidays

creatingpeace1At this busy time of year, this is my prayer: Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin in my heart, in my home.

I know in order to create anything, I must first schedule time for it, and second I must create a physical space for it.

Most of us decorate our homes for this darkest time of year. We add lights and decorations that remind us of all we value and love.

So, here are my tips on how to create peace in your home as you decorate your home for the holidays:

Start with an Intention
creatingpeace2Begin the process of creating sacred space in your home with a prayer, or poem, that connects your attention with your intention for peace and ease.

You may want to sage the room, or light the candles. You may want to turn on peaceful music that inspires you.

Create Space by Removing Items
I always start my holiday decorating by removing the decorative accessories in each room, to create space for my holiday decor. I round them up, room by room, and after I’ve unpacked the bins of holiday decorations, I pack those items in the same bins.
Gather any clutter you find into two piles:

  1. Any items that you can easily return to their proper place, elsewhere in the home, or any items you need to urgently handle. After you decorate, put those items where they go.
  2. Any items that you won’t have time to handle until after the holiday. After you decorate, bag, box, or bin those items and put them in an area of the home where they’ll safely await your attention. Then schedule TIME on your January schedule to handle them. (More tips will be coming in the New Year about the easiest ways to process clutter.)

Bring in Nature
Do you feel deeply nourished by the natural world at this time of year? You can increase your connection by bringing real bits of nature indoors. Before you decorate for the holiday, go for a walk in your neighborhood and collect what calls to you: pine cones, fir boughs, berries.

Twenty years ago, my youngest daughter and I collected some vines as we hiked through the woods in early December. At home, we spray painted them gold and they’ve been part of our holiday decor ever since. As I unpack them, I still remember her 4-year old exuberance as we gathered those vines.

As you integrate gifts of nature from your neighborhood into your holiday decor, you—and your home—will feel more connected to the land you live on.

Bring in the Divine
As you unpack your holiday decorations, ponder their meaning. Ask yourself: How do these items connect my attention to the Divine?

  • creatingpeace3Do your holiday lights bring your attention to the Light of Love?
  • Do your ornaments bring joyful memories to mind?
  • Does each holiday decoration hold uplifting meaning?

As you handle the items, imbue them with your loving intention to create harmony and peace in your home and heart.

Create Altars
An altar is any item or group of items that alters, or uplifts, your mood or energy level. In a church or temple, an altar lifts your attention to the divine.

In your home, an altar creates the same kind of portal for you attention. But only if you place the items with intention.

So, I decorate mindfully, using my intention to weave the sacred into each of my altars.

  • As I string lights on the tree and around the house, I intend to strengthen the light of love within my heart.
  • As I set up the nativity, I invoke into my own heart the protectiveness of Joseph, the love of Mary, the innocence of her newborn babe, the reverence of the shepherds and the generosity of the wise men.
  • As I place the Santa, I remember my answer when my young children asked me if Santa was real: “Santa is as real as your parents!” And… I remember their excitement when they were finally old enough to stay up on Christmas Eve and stuff the stockings and play Santa. I choose to feel that kind of joy in my gift-giving!

Edit Your Collection

Each December as I unpack the decorations, if I find ornaments that no longer hold meaning for any of us, I pass them on.

As our children became adults with homes of their own, each one got to claim a favorite holiday decoration to start their own collection, which has also helped to edit our decorations.

Finish by Connecting to the Spirit of Your Home

creatingpeace4Most westerners treat the space inside their home as if it were dead. But the indigenous treat the space inside their homes as if it is as alive, as intelligent, and as aware as they know that nature is. Just three because the chi, or nature energy, has been enclosed in a structure doesn’t mean it’s dead or unaware.

I believe the chi inside your home is alive, intelligent, and aware of you. I believe this Spirit of Your Home wants to partner with you. So try this experiment:

  • After you’ve decorated for the holiday, choose an altar that feels wonderful to you, and stand in front of it. Dedicate this altar to the Spirit of Your Home. Flow your love and gratitude into the room…. and imagine your love flowing into and filling each room in your home.
  • Express your gratitude to your the Spirit of Your Home: for shelter, for security, for the space it provides for your life. (However imperfect your home may feel to you, it’s way more spacious and luxurious than many of the world’s population currently experience. And when we focus on gratitude, magic happens. So be grateful for what your home is doing for you.)
  • Connect your attention also to the Land you live on, and flow your love into the area around your home. Connect your attention to Mother Earth and flow your love to her.
  • Ask Mother Earth, the Land you live on, and the Spirit of Your Home to work with you, to hold your intention for peace, harmony and ease this holiday season. Ask that the chi in your home be attuned to your intentions.
  • During the holiday season, each time you look at this altar, renew your gratitude, love and request that the Spirit of Your Home work with you to create what you prefer.

Let me know if these tips are supportive for you!

Healing is Moving Through our Grief

Healing is Moving Through our Grief
Rather than Away From our Grief
workshop for The Compassionate Friends by Melody LeBaron

“There inevitably comes a moment in each of our lives, after which everything changes, after which we walk on the earth a little bit differently, and we feel our place here with a heightened melody-son-1kind of awareness.  Usually this moment is some kind of suffering.  It might be a divorce or the loss of a job or being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or we loose someone dear to us – a parent or, God forbid, a child.

“And after that moment the way that we are on the earth is changed forever.  We cannot live our lives by accident any longer.  Because something in that loss, that grief, that heartache, galvanizes  our attention.  We listen more carefully to everything, we watch more closely for what’s true, we try to sense with every cell of our body the inner balance of things.”   Wayne Muller, from Legacy of the Heart

It is my goal that, as we listen and watch and sense and share together, we will each find more of what is true for us, what will give us inner balance.

melody-son-2My name is Melody LeBaron and I am the mother of Heather, age 24, Brandon, age 22, Todd, age 18, Samantha, age 8 and Logan, who would be 20 if he had survived the car accident that took his life. To those who love him, Logan will always be 17.

In the first months after Logan’s death, I vacillated between numbness and an anguish so intense I wanted to die. When I walked into this room three years ago, I was frightened that there was no way out of the black hole of my grief.

I want to thank those of you that were there for me in those early months, for listening to me, and for all you shared with me in the meetings and phone calls and the interviews I had with many of you. I am a college student, and I am usually in school on Tuesday nights. So I am especially grateful to those of you who put out the newsletter and especially to Torrie for the beautiful cards she sends me on Logan’s birthday and the anniversary of his death. Because of you, I know that I do not walk alone, none of us do.

Ask everyone to share their names, the name of their child and something special about their child.

When Torrie asked me to speak tonight, to share what has helped me the most in my grieving process, I decided on the theme “Healing is moving through our grief, not away from it.” I know from my own experience with other losses that if we do not feel our grief and allow it to move through us — if we try to stuff it down, rise above it, wall it off, or close up — we will end up wearing our grief like body armor for the rest of our lives. I’ll be sharing how I have used music, yoga, breathwork, aromatherapy, bodywork, journaling, and writing Logan’s LifeStory in my Healing Journey through my grief.

Yoga, Breathwork
This area (heart/lungs) of our bodies is where we first see the effects of grief. Years ago, I met a woman whose daughter had died 15 years earlier. As she briefly spoke of this child, her face, her voice, and her whole body tensed; her breathing was constricted, her protective posture was rigid. There was no evidence of the joy she had felt in the life of that child, all she could feel and share was pain at her loss.

When something painful happens to us, we usually stop the flow of emotion by constricting our breathing. That can be useful in some situations, but feelings buried alive never die. Those feelings of grief are stored in our cell tissue until we release them.

When a child dies, most of us were given time off from work or family responsibilities for a short while. Long enough for the shock to wear off and the despair to set in. Then we are expected to go back to our lives and function normally.

My own experience tells me that, although our daily responsibilities must be met, THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK WE WILL DO IN THE FIRST TWO YEARS AFTER OUR CHLID’S DEATH IS OUR GRIEF-WORK.

I define my GriefWork as anything I do to allow my emotions over Logan’s death to move through me, so that I can release them.

I am lucky. Five years ago, after my sister died, I had started taking Kundalini yoga classes once or twice a month. I enjoyed the vigorous workouts and the deep relaxations that followed. But after Logan died, when I went to yoga class, I found that it made a profound difference for me.

I am going to share some excerpts from”Riding the Wave of the Breath” chapter in Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope, in which he shares the story of one of his students, Garth.

“One of the most dramatic things I noticed about Garth was his shallow breathing. Indeed , when I sat with him at meals, I noticed if I wasn’t paying attention, I would begin to stop breathing myself. Garth’s breath seemed restricted, as if he couldn’t bear to penetrate down into his body. so he took short, rapid little breaths . . . His shallow breathing and tight belly, his frozen eyes and joints, the deadness and lack of life force in his body—all of these habitual and “locked in” responses to fear chronically perpetuated the original mental states that had long ago evoked them. They kept Garth separated from life. They insured that he continued to drag the past into the present and the future. . .

“Prana is life force. Human beings receive it directly inot the body through the air. We also take it in through live foods (like fresh fruits and vegetables), fresh water, through living plants, and—if we’re open—through the love of other people and other creatures. More than anything else, it is breathing that builds and regulates the flow of prana in the human body. . . . When the breath is fully open, relaxed and free, and when all of the breathing apparatuses—lungs, diaphragm, muscles of the rib cage and chest—are unconstricted in their movements, we have full access to our internal emotional experience.”

The Long Deep Breath is the way we were meant to breathe, and we’re going to practice it. Sit with spine straight, hands in prayer pose, close your eyes to keep your awareness internal, deepen the breath and allow yourself to become fully present for yourself in this moment.

With your thumbs pressing slightly on the sternum, hands pressing slightly together, you are balancing the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

Now take a moment and notice what it is you are feeling, notice and allow the sensations you are having in your body.

explain Long Deep Breathing, explain “inhale deeply, suspend the breath”

Long Deep Breathing: begin by exhaling all the way out, pulling in the navel; begin the inhale by relaxing the belly, fill the bottom third of the lungs; expand the rib cage, fill the middle third; expand the upper chest, fill the top third, exhale all the way out, pulling in the navel.

Remember that conscious breathing opens parts of the body that may have been shut off from the life force (prana); as the wave of breath moves into these exiled areas, you may experience a deep reintegration — sobbing, release, insight, relaxation.

have them practice LDB, while listening to the song “The Healing Journey,” and while I check their breathing, then:

  • do spinal warm-ups
  • standing, bending breaths
  • grind in a large circle
  • camel ride
  • washing machine
  • shoulder shrugs
  • 4 part/8 part neck rolls

Riding the Wave of the Breath
taken from Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope

Breathe

  • sit with spine straight
  • inhale in four parts, exhale in one long breath
  • continue at a good pace for 3 minutes
  • inhale deeply, suspend the breath, exhale

Relax
While riding the wave of the breath, find a comfortable posture that allows full deep breathing, an open chest and heart, a posture into which the body can relax and keep relaxing. Wherever you feel tension, move your awareness directly there, to explore and release and relax as much as possible. As the wave of the breath and energy builds in intensity, we may want to “get off the wave”, and we may repeatedly tense up in order to defend against it. Consciously relax.

Feel
In this technique, feeling is active: it does not mean just “having feelings”, it means moving toward the sensations, the energy, the emotions — and into them. We “breathe into them” as if we could send breath right into their epicenter. We develop acuity of awareness so we can feel the whole range of sensations — their color, texture, intensity, mood. Let your thoughts and judgments drop away. Get out of your head and into your body. Remain fully present for your emotions. Where in your body is the feeling most intense? What is the exact nature of the sensation? Is there movement?

Watch
Shift to “witness consciousness”, to the zone of neutrality, of non-judgment, where we are not “choosing for or against” any kind of experience. We are just being with our experience exactly as it is. We don’t fight it. As we drop into witness consciousness, we’re free both to participate in and to stand apart from our experience. Our attention is focused on “how is it?” rather than “why is it?” or “do I like it?” As the watcher of our experience, we are also the coach, reminding ourselves to descend into the still point at the center of the storm.

Allow
When we just allow our energy experience, without trying to control it, we are free to surrender to the wave of sensation, of feeling, and of energy. We trust that we are moving toward healing and full integration. We relinquish our resistance, or our need to understand the process, and let the process happen to us. This kind of surrender requires a willingness to be changed, to trust life, to be fully present for our experience.

Journaling
I have found that journaling, writing about, my experiences of riding the wave of my grief has helped me in many ways. I have a record of my own grieving, healing process. Some of my writing is angry, filled with rage, some of it is filled with despair. Often I am so busy during the day that when I sit down to write, I am amazed at the depth and velocity of the grief that was right under the surface, ready to pour out. I would like to share a journal entry I wrote recently:

I remember walking into my parents room moments before my mother’s death. She was moaning, frightened, fluid rising in her airway, feeling herself suffocating. Dad was sitting on his side of the bed, reading a scientific journal. Holding her hand, yes. But unable to look into her eyes, to be fully present for her.

What if I choose to be fully present for my grief over Logan’s death and my divorce, instead of fearing and moving away from it? What if I feel these current feelings of insecurity all the way through, without fearing or moving away from them? They are a part of me. What if I choose to love my fears—instead of fearing them?

I now accept these fears, this anger and grief. It is OK with me that you are here in me, in my mind, in my space. I release the need to judge and condemn you just because you make me uncomfortable. I will stay as fully present for the part of me that fears as I will for the part of me that loves. I will embrace my shadow side. I will listen to and love my anger, grief and fear.

melody-umbrellaAs I stop protecting myself against my dark side, I feel tension melting away. The masking, the pretending, the defending… all release. I sink into a deep stillness inside of me. An openness expands from my heart center outward, filling me, filling the room, filling space.

In corners of my ego, thoughts rise, but I release them like hot air balloons. Nothing matters except this peace spreading through my body, my face, my mind. This peace that surpasses my mind’s ability to comprehend it. This rich peace that connects me to all-that-is, that feels like Oneness.

Later, when I come out of this vast expansive vibration, taking deep breaths, my awareness back in my body now, I do not feel the judgments, the fears, the losses. They have transformed into the tears flowing down my cheeks, watering my smile.

Creating LifeStory
Another thing that has helped me along my Healing Path of Grief is writing Logan’s LifeStory. I have written a guide for those who want to write a detailed account of their deceased loved one’s life. If any of you are interested in it, please email me at melody.lebaron@gmail.com. For those of you who are not into writing, creating a visual life history may be an option for you. (Show photos books, framed photos.)

Music
Music is also a powerful tool in our Healing process. During that first year after Logan’s death, my home was not always a place where I felt safe to express my emotions. I found that, driving alone in my car, listening to certain music, I was able to access the emotions that needed to release. It was as if, in the sonic sanctuary of my car, as I sang along or just listened and wept, the sacred work of transformation began.

I don’t have time tonight to share all of the Enya, Loreena McKennitt, and Celene Dion music that has made such a difference for me. I’ve included the titles of songs and albums I used in my handout (below), as well as information on how the music I will be using tonight can be ordered.

Aroma Therapy
How many of you have heard of the use of essential oils, or aroma therapy? After Logan’s death, my massage therapist introduced me to essential oils. She gifted me with two that made a huge difference in how I felt and functioned in those first two years.

The essential oil blends I recommend for anyone who is grieving are:

  • Valor, an essential oil blend which helps you feel grounded, present, and able to face your day. To use, apply several drops to the soles of the feet and the wrists. Then hold the soles of your feet together, and your wrists together, until you feel the pulse the same on both sides of your body. This rebalances the electro-magnetic energy of the body and energy field.
  • Trauma Life or White Angelica: These oil blends are uplifting; each has a high frequency, which allows you to tap into divine guidance, feel the comfort of grace, and release trauma. You put a drop on the crown of the head, a drop on the brow (between the eyebrows), under the nose (inhale deeply!), and one drop on the throat and the center of the chest. Let your intuition be your guide which one of these will be best for you. In the first 4 years after Logan died, I used Trauma Life daily. Now, I use White Angelica.

I loved the essential oils so much I stopped wearing synthetic perfumes and became a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils. If you would like to order any of these oils, email me at melody.lebaron@gmail.com.

Body Work
Another tool that I have used in Healing my Grief is Body Work. Scientists and medical doctors now understand that memory is not just held in the brain, but in every cell of our bodies. Body Work like massage, reflexology and acupuncture has helped me and many others release grief and trauma from our physical structure.

Heart-Broken Open
In closing I choose to share an insight that has only come in the last year. Before Logan died, I had lived through many other losses and hard times. But I was not the only one I knew who had lived through divorce, single parenting, the deaths of a parent or a sibling, financial hardship. But the death of a child is not as common. And I am ashamed to say that it made me feel different, separate, set apart from the rest of the world.

And then a friend recommended a Wayne Muller tape that gave me a new lens, a new perspective, with which to look at my grief. I would like to share part of that tape with you. Wayne Muller graduated from the Harvard Divinity School and has spent his entire career working with those who suffer unimaginable losses: poverty, abuse, addiction, AIDS, cancer, death. At this point in his the tape, he is speaking about what happens to us when a loved one dies.

Play tape

“. . . We cry and we are angry and confused and we are tired. And we hold one another and we try feel the truth of who we all are. And the other thing that happens, almost every time, is an incredible tangible sensation of grace and honesty and compassion and gentleness and clarity and loving kindness that does not make sense unless there are two things that are born of sorrow.

melody-son-3“One is that we are a little bit broken down and the other is that we are a little bit broken open. And we touch that place, whether we call it the Kingdom of God, or the still small voice, or our Budda nature, or the Goddess within, or the spirit of the Earth, or the Holy Spirit. There is that lens that refuses to crack, even under the greatest weight of suffering.

“I would like to suggest that those psychological theories that diagnose us as handicapped, or broken, or toxic because we have had sorrow in our lives are violently mistaken and that those diagnoses invite us to forget who we are. Because who we are is something that will not break. Will not break.

“Pier Violet, a Sufi master, said: ‘Overcome any bitterness that may have come because you were not up to the magnitude of pain that was entrusted to you.’ I will read that again: ‘Overcome any bitterness that may have come because you were not up to the magnitude of pain that was entrusted to you. Like the mother of the world who carries the pain of the world in her heart, each one of us is part of her heart and therefore endowed with a certain measure of pain. You are sharing in the totality of that pain. And you are called upon to meet it in joy instead of self-pity.’ This is a deep practice.

“But it only serves to remind us that our suffering does not set us apart from the human family. It invites us into deep kinship with the human family. And that our sorrow is one of the things that breaks us down, but it is also one of the things that breaks us open.”

It is my choice to know that the pain of Logan’s death is the plow that has opened my heart for planting, that the seeds of compassion are growing in my life and in all our lives, and that as each of us walk the healing path of our own grief, we are better equipped to reach back to help those who will follow us.

NOTE: If you want my support with your own grief journey, I have a 90-day private coaching program Thriving—Not Just Surviving—After a Loss. Please contact me at melody@transformingspace.com and we’ll schedule time to talk to see if that would be a fit for you.

Here is the music that helped me on my Grief Journey.

The Healing Journey
by Ann Mortifee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0aYgeuGepQ

This is a healing journey
This is a sacred path
A path that leads us inward
To dance the sacred dance.
This is a healing journey
We walk it one by one
Each woman and each man alone
To the sound of the distant drum.

This is a healing journey
It winds a stormy path
Through fear and joy and anger
Sorrows from the past.

This is a healing journey
And when the heart is clear
You can hear the winds that rustle
As heaven’s breath draws near.

Breathe into the sorrow
Breathe into the fear
Breathe into the anger
Breathe into the tears
Breathe into the loneliness
Breathe into the joy
Breathe in with the breath of life
And let your heart take voice.

This is a healing journey
From blindness into sight
From the valley of uncertainty
Where darkness turns to light.

This is a healing journey
It is the gift of nature’s way
To open up our hearts
The scheme within the play.

Born To Live
By Ann Mortifeehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IpOSzO5PA0

We were born to live, not just survive
Though the road be long and the river wide
Though the seasons change and the willows bend
Though some dreams break, some others mend.

We were born to give and born to take
To win and loose and to celebrate
We were born to know and born to muse
To unfold our hearts, take a chance and choose.

We were born to love though we feel the thorn
When a ship sets sail to return no more
Though a door be closed and we feel the pain
To chance it all and to love again.

We were born to reach, to seek what’s true
To surrender all, to make each day new
We were born to laugh and born to cry
To rejoice and grieve just to be alive.

we were born to hope and to know despair
And to stand alone when there’s no one there
We were born to trust and to understand
That in every heart there’s an outstretched hand.

We were born to love, to be right and wrong
To be false and true, to be weak and strong
We were born to live, to break down the wall
And to know that life is to taste it all.

Ann Mortifee’s music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/healing-journey/id270478600

Other music good for GriefWork:
• Enya’s CD Watermark(especially the songs “On Your Shore,” and “Evening Falls”)
• Enya’s CD The Memory of Trees(“Hope Has A Place,””Once You Had Gold,””On My Way Home”)
• Loreena McKennitt’s CD The Mask and The Mirror(“The Dark Night of The Soul,”Two Trees”)
• Loreena McKennitt’s CD Book of Secrets(“Night Ride,””Dante’s Prayer”)
• Jewell’s CD Spirit(“Hands,””Life Uncommon,” and “Absence of Fear”)
• Sarah Brightman’s CD Time To Say Goodbye

Grief, Transformed

Grief, Transformed

If someone were to ask you “Do you believe that grief and loss are part of the human condition?” you would probably answer “Yes.”

But when it happens to you—the accident or diagnosis, the death of a loved one, the betrayal and divorce, or the loss of a job or home—that Loss feels personal. Loss often descends suddenly, suspending your momentum, demanding your resources and attention.

grief-1When faced with a loss, our first desire is to recover, to get over it, to recreate the balance and stability we had before.

But after some losses, recovery is not possible. We’ll never “get over” the loss of a limb or a child. We’ll never again be that person we were before the betrayal or diagnosis.

And maybe, we’re not meant to be.

Loss has been one of my greatest teachers. I’ve experienced betrayal and devastation during two divorces. Death has taken 10 of my closest loved ones, including my 17-year old son Logan.

melody-sonAfter the accident that took Logan’s life, as the merciful shock/numbness wore off during that first year and the searing pain set in, I attended the Compassionate Friends support group for grieving parents. There, I learned to understand the symptoms and time-line of grief, and its power to change us—for good or ill.

At the meetings, I met parents whose grief had made them better, more compassionate people. I also met parents who had delayed or gotten stuck in their grief, who 10 or 20 years after their loss were still angry and blaming or depressed. I learned from all of them, determined to find a way through my own grief journey, a way that allows me to honor my son’s life.

On that grief journey, I prayed to receive the support necessary and my teachers appeared:
• A Course in Miracles teacher Carol Howe
• my Rollins professor Dr. Barbara Carson
• biofeedback therapist Marylou Gantner
• rebirthing breath-work coach Michael Stone
• Reiki teacher and therapist Chris Rosenthal
• Kundalini yoga teacher Sampuran Singh Khalsa
• Space and Personal Clearing teacher Eric Dowsett
• Feng Shui, 9 Star Ki and Chinese Face Reading teacher Jean Haner

With their mentoring and modeling, I managed to integrate Logan’s death and create a whole new life for myself—filled with more joy than I’d ever experienced before—in which the love I share with Logan informs all my relationships.

So I thought I understood the power of healthy grieving.

But in the last five years of my shamanic training, I’ve learned that there is so much more to healthy grieving than our western paradigm allows us to comprehend. In ancient times when any member of the tribe experienced a loss, that loss was believed to be a loss to the entire tribe. A loss which would need to be experienced and INTEGRATED by the entire community.

In April, a dear friend and colleague Joyce Dillon and I traveled to San Fransisco to participate in a shamanic grief ritual and learn how to facilitate one. During that training with Francis Weller, grief facilitators from all over the world created a “sudden community” and learned to facilitate collective and individual grief in a way that allowed each of us to access and embody more:

  • personal power and integrity
  • life-force vitality
  • compassion for ourselves and others
  • peaceful wisdom and courage

I returned home feeling younger, more vital and alive.

There is joy on the other side of sorrow, especially when our grief has been transformed into sacred medicine by a community of grievers.

How Feng Shui can help you achieve your 2016 intentions!

Feng Shui can help you achieve your 2016 Intentions!

One of THE most powerful ways to up-level your life is to partner with your home using Feng Shui.  

What can Feng Shui do for you?

Feng Shui, although new to the West, is an ancient indigenous Chinese form of life-space design and has been practiced as an integral part of their culture for over 5000 years.

homeUsing Feng Shui gives us the ability to partner with our homes, to improve our lives.  

In a partnership, we both give and receive. We give to our homes by maintaining and beautifying them. When asked “What do we receive from our homes? What do they give us?” most of us would answer: shelter, safety, comfort, connection. But my clients and students who are using Feng Shui would add to that list: success.

When you activate your 2016 intentions with Feng Shui, expect to be surprised and delighted at how much easier it is to accomplish your goals and achieve your success!
You may have heard of the Feng Shui Bagua. The Bagua is an energy grid, or map, to show us what parts of our home activate which stagings areas of our life.
Just like an acupuncture chart shows where the body can be stimulated to up-level certain organs and systems, the Bagua shows areas of our home that can be “stimulated,” or interacted with, to up-level different areas of our life.
 
Here’s what you need to know about the Feng Shui Bagua

  1. We superimpose the Bagua over our floor plan, with the front entry at the bottom.
  2. The Bagua can be widened or elongated to fit the dimensions of the space.
  3. Each square represents a Gua, or area of the Bagua.
  4. Each Gua governs (or supports) a certain part of your life.
  5. Each Gua needs certain elements to activate it’s potential to support you.
  6. You’ll get the best result if you treat each Gua as one of the members of the Board of Directors of Your Life.

Imagine this grid placed over your floor plan, with the front door on the bottom line. Imagine elongating or widening the Bagua to fit the dimensions of your home. You won’t have a room for each Gua, homes rarely work that way.

bagua
Give Your Board of Directors what they need to do their Job

Each Gua, or area of your home, is a member of your Board, and has a certain job, governing a staging area of your life (the staging area that each Gua governs is listed in the center of each square).  And each Gua needs to be activated with the certain things in order to do its job well:
  1. Each Gua needs to be activated with one of the 5 Elements (water, wood, fire, earth, metal).  I’ve listed the activating elements on the line above each Gua.
  2. Each Gua needs to be activated with a color that energizes it.  I’ve put a dot of the colors that activate each Gua in the upper left corner of each square.  You DON’T have to paint the room in one of those colors… but those colors DO add power to your intentions.  So, don’t be afraid to add those colors in your accessories, art work, or vision board in those areas of your home. 
  3. Each Gua (except one) needs to feel either more Yin or more Yang, except for the center of your home which needs the perfect balance of Yin/Yang.  Yin is the quieter, softer, more receptive quality.   Yang is the brighter, more active and energizing quality.  On the line above each Gua, I’ve listed which quality will activate that area.

Know the Job Description for each Gua, or Board Member

Here’s a link to a pdf of the Bagua, with the affirmations or “job descriptions” of each Gua, describing what each area wants to help you create in your life.  

I recommend you print these 2 pages out, and put them in a plastic sleeve, and walk around your home “meeting” each gua, exploring how you can activate each Gua, so it can energetically support you in achieving your intentions.

I’ve actually had students go home from my classes, and cut that Job Description handout into strips and tape those strips on the walls in the appropriate Gua of their home (until they had time to write their OWN intentions to “program” each Gua)… and within days, they experienced their life beginning to shift in positive ways!

Program Each Gua with Your Intentions

Now you are ready to learn how to “program” a Gua with your intentions, or goals.  I always recommend starting with Gua 4, the Abundance Gua, as she (I use that pronoun because Gua 4 is a Yin Gua) is in charge of manifesting all your goals.  I call her the “President of the Board.”

So let’s say your big priority is to get your home de-cluttered and organized.  It’s a process you know will take several months to complete, and you want to harness your home’s Feng Shui power to make the process easier and successful.

Figure out where Gua 4, Abundance/Prosperity, IS in your home.  As you stand in the front doorway of your home, looking in, what room is in the far left corner of your home?  It could be a closet, a bedroom, a living or dining area, an office.  Ours is the laundry room.  Whatever room it is in your home, it’s affecting your Abundance and Prosperity, your income, and your ability to manifest what you prefer.  

Directions to “program” Gua 4 for successful completion of your goals:

  1. Clear the clutter in this room as soon as possible.  (This will also help money flow to you more easily!)

  2. List your short-term goals.  If your long term goal is to de-clutter and organize your whole house, which rooms will you be working on this month?  List specific outcomes in a positive tone, and in the present tense.  (Not “I have to get rid of the clutter, so I don’t feel so awful in there,” but rather “I easily release all that is no longer serving me, and I organize this room so it’s functional and pleasing to me.”)

  3. To be even more effective, this list will include your BIG WHY.  What are the BIG REASONS you want to de-clutter?  What will that allow you to do or be that you’re not doing or being right now?  You may want your home clutter-free so you can have a family gathering there, or so you can enjoy peace of mind, or to help you loose weight (YES!  When your home loses weight, your body begins to correspond with the light and spacious energy by more easily dropping excess weight!).  Whatever your reasons, list them all.

  4. Find some items that represent how you will feel when you’ve de-cluttered and organized your rooms.  You may want to draw or collage some photos, or images and words that inspire you and represent your BIG WHY.

  5. Take your List and your images to the Abundance Gua, and a few items that are special to you (like a shell from your last beach vacation, your favorite amethyst gemstone, a jade plant or african violet) and create an Altar* as close to the far left corner of your house as you can.  *An Altar is any grouping of items that alters your mood and energy level when you look at it or think about it.

  6. See the Bagua for ideas on colors for Altar items.

  7. Arrange your Abundance Altar, holding in your mind and heart the Body-Sense of having your goals already met.  Finish with a prayer or intention statement — and then release your attachment to specific outcomes, and go to work on your Action Plan!

  8. Your Abundance Gua will be silently working for you, so don’t ignore her!  Freshen your Altar once a month and update your intentions.

There’s a lot more to learn about Feng Shui, including how the Guas, or Board Members, partner together to hep you create alignment and success.  For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring the beginning steps I teach my clients for how to harness the power of Feng Shui.  I hope you’ll experiment with Feng Shui, and share your results with me!

Are You a StoryKeeper?

Are you a Story Keeper?

Are you a keeper of stories?  When you look around your home, do you see evidence of your own life story and the stories of your parents, siblings, ancestors?  Some homes are filled with heirloom furniture, family photos, memorabilia.

Native Americans called those who kept the stories of their families “Rock People.”  The “medicine” or gift of the rocks is to hold the record, the geology, of the earth.  Those of us who have this gift are able to connect the hearts of the children to the mothers and fathers, through the stories of our memories.

Some of us “Rock People” are so sentimental that our homes display treasures from each loved one and every trip we’ve taken, and for every item we hold a memory, a story, in our hearts.  I have rocks and shells from all over the world on our windowsills and altars, and our home holds precious photos of family.

On my Ireland pilgrimage last June I visited many ancient sacred sites, including The City, a place of continuous worship of the divine feminine for over 6.000 years.  Our group of 10 women entered the sacred site mindfully, after kneeling in prayer at the well just outside the portal entrance stones.  In single file, we slowly and silently walked the inside perimeter of the walled enclosure.  Then our guide, Amantha Murphy, asked us each to wander the land, to feel what we were able to feel of its past and to find an area where we felt comfortable and commune with it.

Deep quiet filled me as I walked that precious land.  I felt drawn to a megalithic stone, somehow brought from a great distance away and placed near the center of the enclosure by ancient people.  I walked around this weathered old stone, then placed my hands on it, feeling love course into my body.  Sitting on the ground, I leaned back into the stone and felt as if all my troubles were melting away.  Amantha called the other women over to this stone and told us “This stone is known as the StoryKeeper.  If there are any stories you are holding that bring you sorrow, tell them to her.  Give your stories to her and she will keep them for you so you don’t have to carry them any longer.”

melody-on-stoneI know it sounds crazy, but I did.  After the other women left, I whispered all my grief and loss, all the sorrows of my mother and grandmothers, my sisters, my friends, my clients.  I felt as if sorrow for all women everywhere, and all of mankind, was pouring out of me into the sacred container of this powerful rock.  And then, I was empty.

And into the space inside me where the sorrow had been, peace flowed.  The deepest peace I’ve ever felt.  I can feel it inside me still.

familyaltarThis experience has inspired me to scan my home for my stories, and to creating healing altars that allow me to integrate and release any stuck emotions.  (An altar is any item or group of items that raises or alters your mood and energy level.)

Here’s a photo of my Family Altar.  Behind these photos are my healing intentions for those relationships.

What if an area in your home could serve as your StoryKeeper?  What if you could place items there in a way that would allow you to integrate your losses?  When fully felt, grief transforms into joy.  And that joy becomes our fuel, and we have the energy to move our lives forward.

Let me know if this article was helpful to you and if you’d like more ideas about dealing with memorabilia.  (As a “Rock Person,” I have more than most… and I’m finally ready to edit my collection!)

 

“Mother Tree” longing for a Legacy Life?

How to Create a Sacred Space for Your Legacy Life

What is a “Legacy Life?”

Think of someone whose life is a legacy you admire.  Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gandhi, and Wangari Maathai are a few who come to mind for me.

None of them were perfect human beings.  But, in the words of my teacher Jean Raffa, each of them lived not just for “self-preservation” but for “species-preservation.”  Each of them used their time, attention and energy working not just for their own good, but for the common good.

A Legacy Life is one in which you are willing to work for something you believe in, something that will bless your community… or country… or the world.  Is there a problem you feel passionate about, that you want to help solve?  Will you decide to participate in the solution, to take action, to DO something in service to the greater good?

When you decide to live a Legacy Life, magic happens:

  • Doubts disappear as your thoughts and actions align with service to others.
  • Synchronicity brings support that creates a foundation under your ideas.
  • Others see the fruits of your efforts and join you, to create even better results.
  • Financial support flows in to sustain your good works.

But… what if the ways and means to do this aren’t immediately apparent to you?

Simple:  Create an “altar” in your home and dedicate that space to the good work you choose to do in the world.  An altar is a grouping of items that alters, or elevates, your thoughts and feelings.  You can include in your legacy altar a photo, an icon, a statue, a painting, a book.  It can include anything that gives you the body-sense of enjoying the process of living your legacy.  I recommend also including your hand-written intention.

Here’s an example of a legacy altar.  As someone who has midwifed the deaths of 9 of my loved ones, I’m passionate about creating a sacred space for the end of life.  I’ve written a book on this topic that will encourage others to do the same for their dying loved ones, and I’m in the process of publishing it.  Here’s my altar, on a shelf in my home office, consisting of the books I’ve used as reference, a candle and some cards, resting in a handmade bowl, I pull for inspiration when I feel stuck.

legacy-altar

Your legacy altar doesn’t have to be fancy.  It just has to mean something to you.  Your altar will remind you of your choice to live a legacy life.  It will direct and focus your attention on your intention.

When you create an altar, you are creating a sacred space in your environment, however small and simple.

And when you transform your outer environment, there will follow a corresponding shift inside you.  As without, so within.  Your beliefs and feelings will begin to align with your intention and if you listen to your inner guidance and take inspired action… and, well, that’s when the magic begins!

SO… What problems are you passionate about solving?  How do you long to be in service to others?

Please let me know.  I’ll add your intentions to my manifestation altar, along with many of your sisters in our Transforming Space, Transforming Self online community.

What are you birthing?

baby

This week we celebrate Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, the time when nature is reborn. It’s the season when we feel the subtle call to bring forth what is new in us.

Many of us are on a spiritual path, yet the roles we’re playing in our careers or relationships may feel unaligned with our Soul’s purpose. Or maybe your work and relationships used to feel aligned with your Soul’s purpose– until your last growth spurt… and now something feels dated, old, or just “off.”

Do you:

  • Feel a longing to change or expand the work you are doing?
  • See glimpses of up-leveling your work or your life in some way… but can’t quite bring your vision into reality?
  • Recognize that some of your relationships are no longer sustainably supportive?
  • Feel ready to bring a new, higher resonance into your work or life, but you’re not sure how?

wombIf you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be gestating a new creation, a fresh updated version of yourself or your career.

And if you want to bring your vision into actual reality, you must treat it with the same respect and care that you’d have for a newborn child.

There are 2 steps I use when I’m birthing a new version of myself or my work:

  1. TRANSFORM MY SPACE: I create a sacred space for my vision somewhere in my home. Just like a woman in the last trimester of pregnancy instinctively begins to “nest,” I create a womb-like area in my home that welcomes the “new me.” When I was manifesting my relationship with my now-husband, I completely redecorated my bedroom (which was in the Love area of my home) and transformed it into a nurturing sensual haven. When I’m manifesting a new vision for my work, I edit the books and items in my workspace and create a new altar that activates my intentions. I actively create an environment that vibrates at the resonance I chose to enjoy.
  2. TRANSFORM MYSELF: I clear any old limiting beliefs that don’t support my expansion. I ask for and receive support from my coaches, mentors, friends, colleagues, and from my spiritual support team (my guardian angel, spirit guides, and my loved ones who’ve already graduated from this life). I actively cultivate within myself the resonance of the vision I chose to embody and enjoy, and I ask others to hold that intention with me.

If there is something that you are longing to birth in your life, a new version of yourself that you chose to embody, or some new work that you’d enjoy doing, I would love to hold that intention with you. Just hit reply to this page and I’ll put your name and intention on my manifestation altar, along with my own.

Remember to be tender and loving to yourself in the process of gestating and bringing forth the new you!  And if you would like to give yourself the support of a spiritual midwife/coach and loving sisters, consider joining our 9-month gestation for women, Embodying Source: Clearing Your Home and Heart to Birth Your Legacy Life.

embodying

Here’s What a Sustainable Relationship with Your Home Looks LIke

One of my favorite teachers, Gay Hendricks, says that we live our life in one of four zones:

  • The Zone of Incompetence: I believe this is the uncomfortable place we ALL start, every time we begin to master a new skill. The temptation is to get STUCK, depressed, and stay in this zone.
  • The Zone of Competence: for me, it’s such a relief to get to this zone. A feeling of mastery grows as we realize we can do it well—most of the time!
  • The Zone of Excellence: In this zone we can even teach others how to do it, and we feel even more positive about our life.
  • The Zone of Genius: Now we’ve developed personal power—and we enjoy offering our own unique methods and programs to support others!

As I pondered Gay Hendricks ideas, and remembered moving up the Zones in my life, I realized that the homes in which I’ve lived and worked in have literally partnered with me to move me forward.  How?  Because I’ve consciously partnered, in sustainable ways, with THEM!

Here’s how you can create the same kind of conscious, sustainable relationship with your home:

  1. To move up from the Zone of Incompetence, make changes in your home that allow you to feel more PEACEFUL
  2. To move up from the Zone of Competence, make changes in your home that allow you to feel more POSITIVE
  3. To move up from the Zone of Excellence, make changes in your home that allow you to feel more personally POWERFUL

ARE YOU IN THE ZONE OF INCOMPETENCE?  

TO MOVE UP —> allow your home to help you feel more PEACEFUL!

tableWhen we start mastering something new, the Zone of Incompetence is a pretty uncomfortable place to be!  And when we are frustrated and short-tempered, it can be harder to make progress and move up into the Zone of Competence.

So, when I find myself in the Zone of Incompetence, I know cultivating inner peace will give me the compassion to forgive my mistakes and keep going.

To cultivate PEACE, find something to organize.  Usually, when I’m in the Zone of Incompetence, it’s not hard to find a messy surface!   And when I’ve spent an hour de-cluttering, my mind is more spacious and open to creativity and new ideas.

If you keep going with your de-cluttering projects, you are going to end up with a high-functioning home and workspace—which will give you that sense of inner peace!

Because when we’ve created order in our homes and workspaces, we consistently experience the calm, centered, congruent feelings that accompanies inner peace.  When our home and workspace embodies peace, we do, too. And when we embody peace, we more gracefully move up to the Zone of Competence.

ARE YOU IN THE ZONE OF COMPETENCE?

TO MOVE UP —> allow your home to help you feel more POSITIVE!

home-officeAfter the clutter is gone, it is important to focus your attention on your big vision, your long term goals.  How?

Remove everything from your space that does not relate to or support that big vision.  Display reminders of your goals.  This is where Feng Shui can really help activate your intentions!

Cultivate a POSITIVE vision by creating an altar that activates your goals.  An altar is any item or grouping of items that alters—in a positive way—your mood and energy level.  It’s impossible not to be up-lifted when we are surrounded by images that anchor our intentions!

ZONE OF EXCELLENCE?

TO MOVE UP —> allow your home to help you feel more PERSONALLY POWERFUL!

excellenceHow can we allow our Genius to deliberately create a bigger vision for our lives, and for our work in the world?  Allow your home to help you embody your PERSONAL POWER!  Personal power is not power over others. It’s personal mastery of your time, space, money, attention, energy.

To cultivate PERSONAL POWER, put yourself in the “command position” and surround yourself with ONLY those colors, textures, furnishings, accessories and symbols that make you feel powerful.  In the command position, your back is against a solid wall and you can easily see who is coming in the door.

HAVE YOU MADE IT TO YOUR ZONE OF GENIUS?

TO STAY THERE: Celebrate — and Focus on Serving Others!

microphone_audience1When you get to this level, your focus will be on serving others in a bigger way. And, don’t be surprised if living in your Zone of Genius gets you started learning something new… and you find yourself back in the Zone of Incompetence.

Just look around for something to organize and the resulting inner peace will propel you up to the next zone!

This process really does work.  Back when my home was a mess, so was I.  I wasn’t able to manage my time or energy well.  I was depressed and unhappy.  But as I went through the process of getting rid of the clutter and creating sustainable systems, I changed.  I began to correspond to those changes, becoming first more peaceful, then more positive, then more empowered.

I would love to hear from those of you who are also experiencing the benefits of creating sustainable relationships with their homes!  Share you comments with us below.

The Best Systems are Empowering and Sustainable

Over the 30 years I’ve been a Holistic Professional Organizer, I’ve learned that  effective organizing is all about your relationship with your rooms and the items in those rooms.

Creating Systems

The first thing I ask a new client during a consultation, is:  What purpose do you want each room to serve for you? 

Before we can create systems, we need to know the functions each room will serve.  Maybe your dining area is also your home office, and it needs to serve both functions well.  Maybe your guest room is also a meditation or exercise room.  Maybe your living room is also your reading area and your media room.  Maybe the laundry room needs to store your sewing machine and mending supplies, as well as your tools.

My Job

Once I know how each room needs to function, it’s my job to help each client  create empowering, sustainable systems for those rooms.

  • Empowering, because when your rooms are organized in a way that truly supports your goals, you are empowered to BE and DO your best!
  • Sustainable, because when your rooms are organized in alignment with your goals, preferences, and Unique Retrieval Strategy, it’s easy and fun to maintain the order.

What is a Unique Retrieval Strategy?

My Neuro Linguistic Programming training has taught me that we each process information differently, and working with so many clients over the years has taught me that we each retrieve memory differently. If I try to remember where I put something I “see” it in my mind’s eye.

But many of my clients have non-visual retrieval strategies and they need different cues to remember where they’ve put something.

If they just put the information in a file drawer or behind a cabinet door—without giving themselves additional cues—it’s like throwing the information into a black hole.  They’ll never remember it later.

glasses

Maybe you’ve experienced this frustration! But NO MORE… not after you understand how to work with what I call your Unique Retrieval Strategy!

The 2 Most Important Skills to Get and Stay Organized

There are lots of great books and programs on organizing out there. The thing is, many of them leave out the most important skill sets:

  1. knowing how to set up systems that align with how YOU retrieve information
  2. knowing how to set up sustainable systems so each room can function as a partner in your success

If you’ve ever decided to follow someone else’s system and you put your time, energy and money into it, you may have ended up more discouraged than when you started!  Because without these 2 key skills, most people just don’t get results.