Masters throughout the ages have compared life to a river. I’m no master, and yet we recently floated on Clear Creek in Golden, CO and it struck me that tubing is such a beautiful metaphor for life.
If you've never been tubing, you walk with this large inflatable tube that is easily half your size until the spot on the creek where you want to start floating downstream. In Colorado, the water is so cold it takes your breath away, and we had so much rain this year that the current is still strong. You pop up onto your tube, and your ride begins. Kind of like how the ride begins the second you are born.
My arms were trying to reach the water from outside of the tube, while my butt and feet were in the water. This position doesn't provide the 'rider' much control. I could try really hard to force the water in a certain direction with my hands, but it took a lot of energy and I really couldn't get very far. It struck me that I was along for the ride; I could flow with the water or I could try really hard to get somewhere else.
On this particular ride, I wasn't ever in any real danger, but sometimes I was scared. I held on tighter to the tube, my heart raced, and I tried to paddle with my hands, even though I knew that wouldn't really do much. That is what fear and resistance do in this life. At other times, I was completely at peace and I could just ride along with the flow. That is what peace and flow do in this life.
At the start, the current was swift and carried us along. Some times we could hold on to each other's tubes and ride together, at other times the water forced us apart. Calm sections allowed us the time to look at the scenery of the incredibly colorful mesas around us. Rapids took all of our focus to the water, the tube, and our bodies. There are times in life too that take all of our focus and may feel lonely, and other times where we can catch a breath together and look around.
There were eddies, where water starts to turn in the opposite direction for a bit. These slowed me down, and sometimes pushed me into the bank. Other tubes missed the eddies all together and floated right past me. In life, that happens too - some people seem to float on by having these easy lives. But comparing myself to them or wishing I was sailing along too, only means that I miss the gift of the eddy. In the eddy, I could feel the beauty of the creek, the land, and the sky.
At a shallow part, I felt really stuck and I had to stand up out of my tube, walk along the slippery rocks to deeper water, and then resume my ride. Sometimes in life doing what you've always done doesn't work anymore and you've got to try something new. And sometimes that new thing is slippery.
Part of the fun of a tube is sometimes the water turns you around and you face the opposite direction. What I learned when I got spun around was that the view was better behind me! That was a surprise. Where can we shift our gaze to see something new or differently?
The creek and the tube also provided a level of neutrality for me. When I allowed the river to guide me, I didn't have to know exactly what the next step was (I knew generally I was heading downstream, but I didn't know exactly what would happen at each rapid). There was a flow that supported me, held me, took me where I wanted to go. I didn't have be a certain way (nice, pretty, perfect, rich, etc.) to still get downstream. And this is my experience of spirit, when I get out of my head and let the universe guide me, I feel supported, loved, and safe just because I'm me.
And even though at times it looked like I was getting nowhere, I was on the creek. I like the idea that we are on our path, and it is where we are supposed to be even if it doesn't look exactly like we thought it would. You are always on your path, you can't get it wrong and you aren't being punished. Decide if it's time to walk on the rocks, or stay for the ride. This life is yours to choose.
“A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself, and only herself.” — Maya Angelou
If you have never heard of 8/8 Lion’s Gate, I encourage you to check it out! It is a time when the veil between earth and spirit thins, making it a great time for setting intentions, manifesting, receiving signs from guides or loved ones, and healing old wounds. Lion's Gate happens on and around every August 8th. Consider taking some time to feel the light available and set intentions for how this light could support you, heal you, and create the life you choose. Here are a couple of links for more information and meditation opportunities:
Details for this Lion’s Gate: https://risingwoman.com/astro-report-lionsgate-portal-2023/
Lions Gate Meditation with David Manning Aug 8 at noon (mountain): https://davidmanningenergywork.com/product/lions-gate-2023
If you have a fun Lion's Gate experience to share, please add it to the comments. I'll be anchoring the light from Sirius and enjoying basking in the glow!
Imagine how a flower grows in the ground strong and true. See the stem, leaves and petals. This plant connects with the earth, and somehow starts shooting skyward, finding the light, and becoming beauty. Imagine the power required to push the earth and stand as tall as possible, with the aid of the light and the earth.
I often tap into the light from our sun and that of surrounding stars for energy and healing. You'll often hear me talk about the light within us and around us as essential to our lives. I recently had a healing with David Manning, where together we tapped into a deep, deep earth energy. The same energy that flowers tap into to grow straight up out of the earth. It felt warm and cozy, yet strong and capable. It was a place where I could rest from all of my stories, and just be still and calm. There is a power in this energy that I had not tapped into before. I feel centered at my core, embodying empowerment, ready to create. My entire body is not nearly as rattled as usual, and I am sleeping better. All from the depths of our earth, where it is very very dark. The dark had always been a scary place for me. Through this experience, I learned that there is joy in these dark depths, if only we are willing to go there. Joy even in the deepest and darkest places!
David created a meditation out of this experience. I encourage you to give it a try.
"All the roads within your heart eventually lead to joy. Cry more. Hug more. And surrender more." - Sarah Vallely, Tame Soothe Dwell, the 55 teachings of TSD Mindfulness
I have a completely irrational fear of birds. Nothing happened to me in this life that I should be SO afraid of birds, and yet I am. My heart races when they are near me. My breath quickens. I admire them from afar but close up, I back away.
My mom died last September. This woman was special, one of a kind, joyous, loving, and my biggest fan. The mourning has been REAL and there have been days that I couldn't escape the enormity of the loss. I grieve the loss of her here, in the body. I picked up the phone to call her just last week. And yet, I am also recognizing the spectrum of what's available to me - the spectrum from the body to the spirit. Yes, her body is no longer here, but her spirit is ready, willing, and able. Her spirit is with me... a lot. I often connect with her, and she sends me lots of signs.
And wouldn't you know it... she sends a lot of birds. I recently spent the weekend in Red Feather Lakes (gorgeous!!), and there was this hummingbird that kept landing on a branch a couple of feet from me. It would just sit there, and I would just stand there. And I would laugh as I thought of my mom. A tiny little bird, just for me, over and over and over again throughout the weekend. On the branch or outside my window, just waiting for me to notice.
I often sit in stillness, and ask my mom questions and listen for her answers. So that weekend I asked her -
"Why the birds, Ma?" Part of me was a bit perturbed that she knows I am so afraid of them and yet continued to send them. And she responded,
"Why not, Sweet Child? There is beauty in birds and your fear is not of this time. Flying with a bird is one of the great joys of this world. I am free!"
I smiled at the idea of her flying with the birds, and I could hear her joy.
I could have missed all of these connections; been too busy walking to see the birds or been too distracted to ask my mom about the birds. And yet, grief is helping me to slow down. I am finding the time and energy to connect. It is a wonderful place to be, in the body and free.
She sent her friend Andrea an owl... thank god that wasn't me.
Many thanks to the Bold Journey team for developing this interview and asking about my purpose. Although I believe purpose is an ever evolving aspect of life, it is nice - in this moment - to be doing exactly what I love to do. Read the article here: https://boldjourney.com/news/meet-ali-sweeney/
The clocks are about to change. I am not a fan of the seasonal time change. I remember being in college and crossing the international dateline on a boat. At 2pm, the day changed from one day to a different day. I remember thinking how “made up” time is. And to a certain extent humans have created time, or more so, the tracking of time.
And wow! Do we humans think about time… spend some time thinking about… how much time you spend thinking about time. How much time do I have? How long will that take? Timers to make sure we don’t spend too much time doing one thing or another. Checking the traffic. Wondering how long we have to wait until our dreams come true. Saying no there isn’t enough time for that. Or yes, we can make time for that. We can’t make time, can we?
There are spiritual scholars who call this time of our lives the “quickening”, which I find fascinating because time sure seems to be quickening. I swear time is moving faster. I’m sure science would tell you a second is still a second, but… seriously how did all of these years go by?
And in our culture, it seems like the purpose of life is to move faster, to do more, to do more more efficiently. It is as if we must move faster to keep up, to use less time for each thing so we can get to more things. I know this feeling well. It makes me try to multitask. And then I am out of present time - not fully present in any of the tasks I am doing. I can’t make a to-do list in my head of all the things I need to do and listen to my child’s story about her day. I can’t listen fully and think at the same time. What if we tried to do one thing at a time, instead of all the things all the time?
There is only one place that time is more still for me. Time is slower in meditation and I like that feeling. It is the opposite of rushing through time to get to the next thing, it is fully being.
I want to give myself permission to slow down time. I don’t have to use it all so quickly, or with so many things packed into one moment. This might mean meditating more, or simply resting more. In slowed down time, I could rest more. Rest daily. A full rest. Not the kind of rest where you are doing something else too. Not like folding the laundry while listening to a podcast, that isn’t really rest. I guess that would mean some time off. I encourage you to take some time off, afterall you are about to lose an hour.
What is your experience of joy? Are you waiting for something great to happen? When you smile do you let it soak into you with joy, or is it just on the surface? Do you expect to live a life of wild and intense joy? Do you hope to be over-joyed? Is joy a feeling that is reserved for a wedding or a birth or just some other momentous occasion? Are you intentionally joyful? Is joy just something that sometimes happens to you?
What I have discovered in this life is that JOY makes it better. Whatever ails you, JOY changes it.
Think about children playing - the laughter, the giggles. If we had to meet a certain amount of value or have a certain amount of pain - BEFORE - we could experience joy, what little kid would have met those thresholds? Instead, kids just are joy. They catch it and take hold and then they let it ring. Joy in the simplest of things. They do not wait for someone else to be different before they hold joy, they do not keep joy on the surface - they let it all the way down to their full belly giggles. Kids don’t temper their joy, rather they give themselves permission to be overjoyed, even bouncing off the walls.
Adults can be a different story. Many of us seem to have forgotten that we are joy. There could be lots of reasons: maybe we hold so many joy inhibitors that the joy can only stay on the surface, we decided somewhere along the way that we would wait for joy, or that someone else’s joy is more important than our own. There is more than enough joy to go around and for joy to go deep. Because here’s the thing - you were once that kid. You are joy.
I am not suggesting we be joyful all the time. Sometimes it feels like life itself limits our joy. Challenges persist. There is pain, sadness, and so much more. This isn’t about being someone pretending to be joyful about the things that are hard. These things ARE hard and to pretend they are not - keeps that hardness around. But what about the joy inhibitors that are more of a habit or a belief you could change?
I’ve found that for me, worry is one of my biggest inhibitors to joy. I heard on the radio the other day that everyone worries. Every human on earth. In the stone age, worrying kept us alive. A valuable instinct, yet we are not in the stone age anymore. I actually have no control over most of the things I worry about. If I did, I would just do something about it. But instead, I worry. I create scenarios, not joy-filled scenarios, but worst case scenarios. It can be hard to feel joy through all of that worry, it can be hard to get it past the surface smile to feel it down deep. I think it is possible that worry makes room for other things too - doubt, uncertainty, weakness. So a great question to ask yourself is - are you glad you are worrying? Is it serving you? If not, you could take a break from the worry.
Worry is one of the ways we cover over our joy. Other ways could be beliefs that we can only have joy when a certain set of circumstances is met, or that someone else’s joy is more important than our own (sacrifice). Get curious about what is limiting your experience of joy in any way. What could you let go of to experience a broader spectrum of joy? If you don’t need that pattern or belief; you can change it. I believe in you. There is no waiting for joy required. No threshold of pain experiences that have to be met before YOU can experience joy.
Bring me your light. I will bask in it, and I will share mine.
Image by IceEye from Pixabay.
Recently, I was talking with a friend and he was reminiscing about some of the events of the past year in his life. There were some disappointments early in the year that kept him from growing his business. At the time they happened, my friend could not understand why his business wasn't working out. But then the rest of the year happened, and he was so grateful for the way it turned out! In the time in between, he learned a lot and was in a much stronger position to grow his business by the end of the year. It was better for him to grow the business NOW, then it would have been had he been initially successful. In that time in between, he was waiting in the threshold. The threshold is the place between here and there. It is the time you feel like you are treading water, and not necessarily getting anywhere. It is a getting ready space, but not the launch space. This liminal space can be incredibly uncomfortable. You may doubt yourself, you may doubt the universe, consider changing tracks, worry, overthink your options, create conflict. And sometimes you run out of patience, and want whatever it is you are about to step in to... to happen NOW.
I have been in the threshold this year as well. Events just kept happening that kept me from moving forward. It was frustrating, and there was a part of me that kept fighting for the forward momentum. The final 'sign' was when I broke a bone in my foot, and simply had to sit down - doctors orders. And so I did. I needed to stop the fight, and just rest. Sometimes you are just in the in between space, you can fight it or you can accept it. I'm finding that the easier path is acceptance.
Is there something in your life keeping you in the threshold space? Maybe there are some limiting beliefs lurking about your value, your abilities, ideas of lack, abundance, or sacrifice. What are you learning from this time in between? For me, I literally needed to learn the value of rest. The universe is always conspiring for your highest good, and sometimes standing in the threshold is just what we need.
Can you think of times you were in the threshold between two places of life? What did it feel like? What did you learn?
This is a challenging season of life for many of us. When I would talk to my mom and was screaming at the world, at my life, at anything and everything… when I cried the biggest, hardest tears… my mom’s response was always, ‘Better out than in, Al.’
What happens when you let these feelings out instead of keeping them inside of you? I am uncomfortable being angry, crying my heart out, fuming. These moments of release are uncomfortable, especially as those feelings escape. That pain isn’t easy when it hurts deep in your heart, when your throat closes down, when the emotion is all you experience. And yet - all that anger or sadness or whatever it is your feeling - is better out than in. (Ideally, you are letting it out without harming others or yourself). Maybe all that hurt has been stuck there for years (or lifetimes) and through whatever challenging experience you're having, it is healing and releasing. And then through that release you don’t have to hold it any longer. I always feel lighter, more like Myself, better, after one of these releases.
Often we compound the emotion we are feeling by telling ourselves we shouldn’t be feeling it, we are overreacting, it isn’t that bad, or we berate ourselves for feeling big emotions. I don’t like feeling these emotions, but I am coming to understand that there isn't anything 'wrong' with them (or me). Now I trust that these releases are essential for the next best version of me. I know that I can have these big emotions, be uncomfortable, find my breath, and not make me wrong. How would your life change if you felt uncomfortable emotions and that’s all that happened in your thoughts? You don’t have to change anything or feel even worse about yourself. It could be that there is nothing ‘wrong’, but rather a release of emotions that you no longer have to hold. It could be that there isn’t anything to fix, and be responsible for, other than just sitting in it. Acknowledging and accepting that this is how you feel right now. Remembering that you won’t feel this way forever, it is temporary. Your life will have peace and joy and love again.
I encourage you to sit with the release of emotion that happens, as uncomfortable as it is and remind yourself that whatever you are feeling, is better out than in.
So a compliment comes your way, someone telling you just how special you are and what happens? Do you soak that in, do you say - ‘you are RIGHT! I am special!’ Or is there a different voice in your head that says… “yeah, but… I know I am a terrible person pretending to be good.” Or maybe your voice is not that harsh, maybe your voice just says… “yeah, but… I should have done more.” Or “yeah, but not really, I am not really special.”
Do you know the sound of this ‘yeah, but’ voice? It shows up as shoulds and shouldn’ts, as a way of measuring yourself against some line that doesn’t exist, as criticism, and as judgment. It is the opposite of the compliment. The ‘yeah, but’ voice steals the compliment and changes it to harsh energy, and yet all we want is for our hearts to stir with love and joy.
It is understandable that we have all of these ‘yeah, but’ thoughts. Society constantly tells us that we are not enough, we don’t have enough, and the unattainable is well… unattainable. It tells us to wait for the next best thing to be joyful, it tells us to try harder, faster, and do more, more, more. Maybe you had a parent or a boss that pushed, pushed, pushed. These are the kinds of things that create the ‘yeah, but’ voice for a lot of us. And yet, the truth is you are worthy of love, joy, peace, or calm, just by your very existence. And a compliment is an opportunity to receive, to know, to feel, that love, joy, peace, or calm. When we give it a giant ‘yeah, but’ we push all of that away.
Try catching this voice in action. Catch the ‘yeah, but’. What would happen if you let the compliment, the good feeling sink in, without chasing it away. You are really an incredible person. NO 'YEAH, BUT'. You are really an incredible person. Can you say that to yourself? I AM an incredible person. It might be hard at first, and I believe in you. You can do this. Try it. Practice using words like this with yourself everyday. I am amazing. I AM worthy of love and joy and whatever it is you want in this life. I am amazing. Catch the ‘yeah, but’ and try love instead.
Can you feel that stirring in your heart? That’s the truth. You. Are. Amazing. Look at you! You go have this life that is ready for the one and only you. You’ve got this. NO 'YEAH, BUT'.