Thursday, February 10, 2011

Higher self

Photo courtesy of
Bing images
You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body ~ C. S. Lewis

How's that for a powerful statement?! Quotes often prompt blog articles for me. I've had this quote saved to my drafts file for several weeks, waiting for all the thoughts to coalesce.

I was speaking with a friend on the phone recently who is going through some personal struggles. He was focused quite a lot on dissecting specific words down to their most minute definitions, nuances and applications. I do that myself, as I always enjoy how written language can change with the slightest emphasis on a syllable, or depending upon how that specific word is used in a sentence. Stringing words together into a quote such as the one above will have me pondering all the layers and directions and possibilities, and quite often, will open my eyes and mind up to a perspective I might not have come up with on my own.

We do lose sight of our origins, this is a daily truth. Being on the front lines of this Earth School bombards us with all the raw emotions and experiences that are meant to mold our character, grow us up and refine all the rough edges. Small wonder that we forget that we are Spirit in essence, merely housed in a physical container. It is human nature to think in corporeal terms, because we're in a physical reality!

But taking time to remember our own Divinity is worthwhile. We can't remain here in the physical plane forever, that much is an absolute for this reality. It is a temporary gift we're given, being able to incarnate here and interact with all the wonderful people around us, to be able to feel, hear, think and express ourselves in a human manner. I often wonder what the beauty must be in the non-physical plane, as what we are capable of producing here has breathtaking expression.

When I meditate, there are moments when my consciousness is able to connect at a level that gives me glimpses of that non-physical plane. Occasionally, I am able to shift my consciousness and step outside of my physical body, and those experiences are transcendent. As a child, I can remember reading a great deal about Helen Keller and the fact that, despite her physical limitations with sight and hearing, she was able to shift her consciousness and travel great distances with meditation. She was able to describe other countries in clear detail, down to colors, textures and scents. When asked how this could be possible, her reply was, (paraphrased here) "My body is blind and deaf, but my Spirit isn't."

Similarly, a story I remember hearing of President Reagan's family caring for him in the final stages of Alzheimer's disease was that his daughter, Patty, would spend hours talking with him each day. At that point in his disease, he had lost the ability to speak, and doctors were unsure if he could hear conversation around him. His daughter continued to have her one-sided conversations with him each day. When asked why she bothered by a medical technician, her reply (again, paraphrased here) was, "His body has Alzheimer's disease, but his Spirit doesn't. I'm positive he can hear me, so that's why I do this each day."

These several quotes cobbled together in my mind and made me wonder, what is to stop each of us from having similar conversations with ourselves? Many esoteric tenets hold the belief that we have an Over Soul, or Higher Consciousness. Some believe that we can tap into our own thread that is connected to the Universal Consciousness, or that which we might label God, and that at that level, our Spirit, or Soul, is the culmination of all of our best, strongest, most noble achievements. Call it our own personal spiritual anchor, or bellwether of sorts.

Most of us are comfortable with the process of prayer; some prefer to access that Higher Consciousness through meditation. I've said many times before that when we are creative or loving, or happy, we are expressing something Divine with our actions. Why not take time, then, to remember that we truly are that Soul, housed temporarily in a physical body.....and recognize that as such, our Spirit form is supremely powerful and capable of guiding us in the most pure form? When I remember to do this, I find that my days are much clearer. Energy flows better and I am in a very present state. Solutions to problems are more easily discovered, and connections to people who I am meant to find, interact with and teach and learn from seem to manifest effortlessly.

It is the days that I forget and focus on just being human, wrestling my way through all the front lines activity of a given "battlefield" that life is much more challenging. Another good friend, a Buddhist, always gives me these amazing quotes that she learns from her spiritual teachers. Life is as simple, or as difficult as we make it. That's not a tough concept to read and absorb, but it certainly can be challenging to NOT make life difficult! I know I excel at that very thing! Coming back to quiet, taking time to be with myself and remembering who and what I am.....a being of spiritual energy that is connected to the Divine....this is where and when Life flows much more easily.

So, I do remind myself of Mr. Lewis's quote above. I am a Soul. Inhabiting a physical body, yes, but consciously reminding myself that there is so much more than this immediate physical plane of existence.

What are your thoughts on this C.S. Lewis quote? Do you take those small moments to reconnect with your own Higher Consciousness? What method of approach works best for you? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; I'm just curious and I know I will value the comments that each of you take time to write here.

**My apologies that this whole post is in italics. Sometimes no matter how I wrestle w/ the publishing tool, I can't get the formatting to cooperate!  The formatting is done properly over at Healing Morning.**

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me at Healing Morning blog.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Grasshopper Thoughts, Vol. II, February 2011

Photo courtesy of
Bing images
I haven't had Grasshopper Thoughts in ages. Well, let me rephrase that. I have had them, quite the tune of probably several hundred in any random day. I just haven't written about them.

Earlier tonight, I was talking with a friend who was snacking on pretzels. So the obvious questions followed. Pretzel sticks, or the traditional rounded, woven kind? Then the next question was inevitably, with dip or plain? And is it me, or does anyone else think their fingers smell like celery after they've eaten pretzels??? Something about the lye they spray on the rising dough to give pretzels that crunchy, glossy outer shell after they bake leaves a celery fragrance on them. No, I'm not kidding and I'm not imagining it. Sniff your fingers the next time you eat pretzels and tell me what you think. Celery. I promise.

So, why can't someone come up with a happy medium between ladies knee high stockings and trouser socks? Is that so hard to invent? The textile factories exist for both, so the technology is already there. There are days when knee highs, ugly things that they are, are too sheer, but that same day, trouser socks are too thick to wear with heels. It makes our feet look like sausages crammed into our high heels, and that just ruins the whole purpose of buying cute shoes. Ladies, I know you get me on this one.

Mustard seeds. I just got a big bag of them from one of my favorite online companies. Right now I have a jar of leftover pickle juice in the refrigerator, half filled with dried mustard seeds. I stumbled on that idea a couple years ago when I had finished a jar of dill pickles and had the liquid left over; there were mustard seeds swimming around in the pickling liquid. I use mustard seeds in potato salad, egg salad and a couple of other dishes, but it takes a while for them to rehydrate in the salads. So, I dumped some into the leftover pickle juice in the jar and tried them a couple days later. Et voila, instant pickled mustard seeds....and a foody addiction was born. In about two days, I'll be enjoying them again.

I don't know about you, but someone has to have the answer to why almonds and mushrooms squeak when you bite down on them. They're not sentient, or even breathing, after all. Why do they squeak??? Another random food thought, I realize, but these thoughts do take up valuable pondering time in my day. I just thought I'd pass along....and share....the torment with you. I'm very generous that way.

You know, sometimes you have a really crummy day. It starts out with just a bad moment and that's never good. For me, that happened earlier this week and within an hour, instead of the bad compounding, I was literally inundated with Sunshine Moments. They were dropping down upon me from every direction. The bad moment faded into insignificance, blotted out by the cheerful, determined rays of the sun being gifted to me. I am still feeling the effects of all that radiance, which is probably why I have all this energy late at night to Grasshopper!
If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more of my work, you can find me at Healing Morning blog.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Writing a Book is Not a Walk in the Park

Before you decide that getting a book deal or writing a book is your golden ticket to whatever, I invite you to read this in The New York Observer. Don't get me wrong. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity. It has been my dream to be a published author since I was...I don't know..ten years old? Now that I am actually in the process of having a book published, I realize that dream and reality are quite different.

So you want to be a published author? Are you willing to commit your life to it? Are you willing to put your children, husband, social life and everything else on the back burner for it? Are you willing to sit at your computer for LONG hours writing endlessly with very little social contact?

The reason I love blogging is that it's so interactive. I write something, you write something and we have this nice, little exchange. There's none of that with book writing, apart from the feedback you receive from you editor. I had to laugh when I read the article above. So much of what the author described was true for me. Whatever subject you choose to write on, be prepared to be stuck with that subject for one, two or even ten years in some cases. By the end of it, regardless of how much you LOVE your topic, I guarantee you'll be saying, "I'm so sick of writing about this I could SCREAM!" or "This is SO BAD, who on earth is going to read it?!"

I became consumed with the idea of writing this particular book years ago. I imagined I would write it during a few lovely weeks at my family's lake house. I'd sit out on the picnic table in the sun, birds would chirp around me as I lovingly put down my life in words.

Boy was that dream shattered quickly. First of all, you need to decide how you want your book published. I chose traditional publishing, even though I was warned numerous times that it was a tough road to publication. Everyone has to decide what's best for them. I followed my intuition on this one and stuck the tough road out. Second, if you choose this road, forget the book. If you are going to publish any work of nonfiction, you need a proposal. Mine was around 95 pages and included my book concept, a marketing plan, sample chapters, production details, a section on the competition and a section on how the book would be promoted. I knew nothing about this when I started. I had to find it all out online and through books as I bumped along the road to publishing. I spent the good part of a year just writing the proposal. I hadn't even gotten to the book yet. Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon became my bible. In the early stages, I hired a writing coach in Seattle at The Writer's Workshop who gave constructive feedback on my proposal and, more than anything, helped me stay on task by holding me to deadlines.

My husband, the former monk turned yoga teacher, played an important role in this process, too. He was my sounding board, my life coach and my cheerleader. His calming nature and belief in what I was doing really helped me get through it. He'd sit for hours listening to me read back what I had written. During a private yoga session with a client who already had two books under her belt, he got word of a freelance editor in Seattle who used to be an acquisitions editor at a major publishing house. While we were out staining our fence one hot, summer afternoon, he said, "You really should call that woman." So I did and I'm so glad I did.

It helped to work with a freelance editor who had been on the other side of publishing. I learned so much from her. She helped me refine my proposal. The thing is, working with a freelance editor is not cheap and there are no guarantees. You could spend a great deal of money on advice, coaching and editing and still not have a book deal in the end.

As many before me have probably mentioned, a lot of it has to do with timing. But more than timing, you need serious commitment. If you are really committed to your project, you are willing to take whatever time and whatever measures are needed to see it become a book. You need to believe in what you are writing about and it helps if you have a reason for writing it or an author's purpose. In my case, I'm writing my story because I believe I have something important to share that will help others realize their own purpose or potential.

On occasion, my husband has entered my writing room and found me, head on the keyboard, completely burned out from writing. In most cases, I haven't showered, eaten, nor seen the light of day. He's had to wing it for meals and housekeeping has completely gone by the wayside. But he never complains. Instead, he comes over to the computer, kisses me and says, "I'm proud of you, you are doing a great job," or he gently lets me know that perhaps I should turn off the computer and come to bed.

After several years, and through what I call "some mysterious workings of the universe," I not only received agent representation, but I also a got a book deal. Some of my friends believe it happened a little too easily for me, but what they can't see is that I put in a lot of legwork. I believed, with every ounce of my being, that it would become a book. I never veered once from this goal. I put every single ounce of myself into it. It was not a walk in the park. In fact, while writing my story, I had to relive quite a bit of pain and I often wondered why I was putting myself through it all again.

I've finally finished writing the book, 287 some pages of it. Yet it is not REALLY finished until it's sandwiched between two covers or until I can walk into Barnes and Noble and hold a copy of it in my hands.

No, it was definitely NOT a walk in the park, but neither is life. And, truthfully, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Note: Lessons from the Monk I Married is due out in bookstores across North America in spring 2012.

This was reposted from my blog: Lessons from the Monk I Married