Light in Dark Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us…” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Light in dark

One would think Dickens wrote this about the tumultuous state of the world today.  It’s a tough time for everyone particularly those facing persecution, natural disasters and trauma.  In the Tale of Two Cities, Dr. Manette’s broken spirit from his unjust eighteen year imprisonment is healed by the love and devotion of his daughter.

In every case of disaster or distress we learn of heroes who shield others from bullets, rescue people from burning buildings, donate blood, time and money to those in need, comfort strangers and loved ones who are suffering. We bring relief by showing we care, standing up for morality, engaging in humanitarian efforts.

Volunteer, sign up for a cause, make peace with someone, be a mentor, give encouragement, get involved.  There are so many ways to bring light to dark times.

Power of Silence

“The quieter you become the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass

Cottonwood Lake

Lately I wonder when did it become such a noisy world? Perhaps it always has been.  The hustle bustle of traffic, piercing sirens, clanging construction sites, devices beeping at us – the volume of noise steadily increases making me want to grab a remote and hit the mute button.

Those precious moments when I find peace and quiet like today, I sit and admire the beauty of tranquility. When human and mechanical noise is absent, you can hear nature speak.  You can listen to your soul.  Silence is powerful in many ways.  Quiet reflection can help us reach a level of deep inner calm. In communication, being quiet allows us to listen and be attentive.  It gives time to digest what is said.  During an argument, being silent can help you cool off, reconsider or apologize for harsh words spoken.

Silence may be uncomfortable for some people who need constant background noise because then we’re alone with our thoughts. That’s the perfect reason to appreciate quiet time to reflect, recharge and recognize the power of silence.

Inspiration

“Everybody we encounter is really a mirror – a reflection of a part of who we are. And within each of us is a teacher – someone who inspires, listens and reflects.” – Oprah

Inspiration

One morning, I felt a particular appreciation for the motivators in our lives – my Pilates instructor as she guided me through movements to strengthen and balance my body, a friend who as a professional coach helps clients make positive changes, and the teacher who motivated my niece to go to college and become a teacher so she can inspire other students.

Inspiration is my passion – it’s why I created this blog. So, it didn’t surprise me to see the title of that day’s meditation with Oprah and Deepak was “Inspirational Me.” Oprah said, “Each of us has that power to inspire one another.  Within all of us lies a wonderful teacher … Embrace that inner teacher and know you have something very valuable to offer everyone around you.”

That’s the beauty of inspiration – you don’t have to be an instructor, coach or teacher to inspire others.  Each one of us has a unique gift to share.  We have the opportunity to connect with people, encourage them, lift their spirits, and experience the power of inspiration as we watch it unfold.

To read the Inspirational Me meditation, click on this link: http://www.soul2soulblog.net/meditation-desire-destiny/day-17-inspirational-me-desire-destiny-meditation/

 

Shine Your Light

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same.” – Marianne Williamson

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Shining your light illuminates everyone on your path.  You can literally see someone light up when you give them a smile, do a small act of kindness, or ask how they’re doing. I appreciated the power of it today saying hello to the maintenance man at the city’s recreation center.  He was cleaning lights in the parking garage.  Being a hot day, I told him to stay cool.

He walked over to me and started chatting.  I could tell he took pride in his work because people complimented him regularly  – “the mirrors in the dance room are so clean, the floor is clean and not slippery, thank you for brightening up our center.”  He beamed as he repeated these compliments to me.  When people know they’re appreciated and making a difference, they’re encouraged to do more good things.

Later I met with a young friend of my mother, who was a mentor to her giving guidance during a critical time.  She said it created a ripple effect as she provides guidance now to another friend of hers.   We are naturally drawn to positive energy. Kindness is contagious.  Shine your light and pass it on.

Let Go and Trust the Universe

Surrender to what is. Let go of what was.  Have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotti

Skylight - Window to Heaven

I love how things pop up just at the right moment when you need it. When I see or hear something multiple times, I know the universe is speaking to me.  Recently, I read Pam Grout’s newsletter about how your thoughts can create reality when you have faith and trust the universe.  Shortly after, I received an Email from Daily Om, Things We Can’t Control about letting go and trusting life will unfold exactly the way it should. Click the links to read more.

When dealing with difficult situations or worrying about what’s going to happen, this quote is a reminder to let go of what was in the past and also expectations about controlling things the way we want them to be. When we struggle with challenges and obstacles, we become entangled in them like being stuck in quick sand or seaweed. If we stay calm and let go of wrestling with life, the universe will bring us what we need.

It’s perfectly described by the Chinese philosophy of Tao Te Ching: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”

Stay Still

“Be Still – Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.”  -Lao Tzu

Lately, my mantra is stay still – take time to breathe before reacting to a situation or something said.  It’s not easy when emotions and stress are involved, but I find taking time in that moment helps calm my feelings and response.

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Staying still also allows us to be present to observe and experience things we might not notice in our fast paced world.  Today when I walked on the beach, I was thankful for the low tide.  It’s an opportunity to walk a long stretch of the beach without scrambling on slippery rocks to get to the other side.  I ran my hand across velvety moss on a rock normally covered by water.  I took time to notice sea creatures watching a black crab, spider-like crawl away from me as I approached it.  When I peered into a crevice, a large crab with pink pinching claws looked back at me.  Tiny sand crabs blended in with beach as they wobbled across.

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I knew if I gazed at the ocean long enough I would see something bigger.  Just then, the fins of a dolphin bobbed in and out of the water.  Staying still calms our senses, enhances perceptions and allows us to catch glimpses of nature’s beauty.

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Nestled in Redwoods

“I wanted to unfurl my toes for a little while.  I wanted silence, isolation and an invitation to exhale life’s complications.  I heard nature’s melody and I harmonized with every single note.  I needed the trees, their colors, and the sounds of wildlife breathing.  I inhaled the essence of the forest and smiled as life coursed through my veins.”  – Amelia Dashwood

Redwoods

It’s been a while since I’ve written. There are so many things I wanted to write about but life distracted me.  In March, I attended several meetings for social activism.  I went to Washington, DC, met with Representatives to talk about political issues and attended volunteer training with the Human Rights Campaign.

I was fired up, ready to jump in and take action. I found it exciting to be in our nation’s capitol, bumping into Senator John Lewis and Planned Parenthood’s President, Cecile Richards while distributing literature to California Representatives. Rachel Maddow glued me to the TV every night with unbelievable news she reported.

But, I became over-whelmed with all that’s going on in our world. I needed to step back and catch my breath. I felt the urge to be in the midst of trees.  It’s where I go when I need to soothe my soul.  Twenty years ago, I spent a year in the redwoods of northern California after going through a stressful time. My Mom lived there and it was comforting to be close to her again.  Recently I went back to visit a friend.

As I drove on winding roads lined with tall trees, I could feel tension leave my body. Passing by familiar places, I felt like a movie played in my head hearing Mom’s voice and laughter.  I walked alone in the redwoods past our old home reliving fond memories.  My friend and I spent an afternoon on her deck reminiscing then sitting quietly hearing the creek flow. When the wind blew, a white blossomed tree in front of us looked like a snowfall of flowers.  We dined at a restaurant where the Russian River flows into the ocean and enjoyed the sacredness of an outdoor church. The beauty of nature and slow pace was just what I needed to feel at peace.

Outdoor church

Russian River flows into ocean