I love this time of year — one foot stepping away from dismal winter, the other turning toward spring’s pulsating energy and invigorating growth.
Mother Nature turns her pages as weeping cherry blossoms invite sleepy trees to leaf out. Rosettes emerge beneath woody stalks from last year’s Autumn Joy…lifeless looking rosebushes begin to swell…rain purges pollen while transforming blue skies into grey and flourishing winter’s grass resplendent green…alluring buds rouse allergies yet spring’s intoxicating sights and scents are ecstasy to my spirit.
“It feels as though the beginning and the end are intertwined, thus leading to a never-ending cycle. Surely this will not be the end. Just as it can’t be considered the beginning. Just as it can’t be determined where the beginning or the end is.”
Daylight “saving time” is an oddity to me. The only time I think I’ve saved is when I am more efficient like writing my store note while my phone call is placed on hold. Other times it’s planning my route to accomplish the most along the way — or speeding up (just a little bit) to get somewhere sooner than later.
Being highly organized, I think I’ve saved a lot of time over the years but, sadly, there’s no place for its safekeeping — like a rainy day fund. Boy, I wish there was. Just think. If you could bank all those hours — kind of like the vacation time or sick days allotted at work — and use them where ever and whenever you want — like when you’re rushing to an appointment, just pull out an extra hour and that traffic jam doesn’t matter.
We could extend a vacation with extra time or in a macabre sense, have more time if diagnosed with a fatal disease. A friend with esophageal cancer told me, “Six months to live is just not enough time.” Think of it; if he could have been banking hours to extend his life, he’d have enough time to complete his bucket list.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I could find the time.” So where is it? How can we find it? Numerous articles exist on time management. The one I offer here is by a favorite author of mine, Anne Lamott.
Regret often bears the lament, “What a waste of time.” Yet, in hindsight and particularly if lessons were learned, it was not a waste of time but an invaluable training ground.
My concepts of time have changed as time has changed me through the years. Going too slowly in my youth, they said I was wishing, wishing my life away when I could barely wait to be five, then thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one.
Years thereafter I lived in the past and worried about the future. Too often what was happening in the “now” was unpleasant and not where I wanted to be. It took a lot of retraining to attempt to stay in the moment.
Lately though, I’ve been so in the moment I’m wondering where did the time go? Somehow its evaporated, transformed into one longer moment from this moment into the next until the day is gone. Am I on accelerated speed? Are the clocks running fast? Time no longer lingers as when I was very young.
For most of my life, nature’s timing of the seasons seemed perfectly natural. Until these last few years, there was a consistency I do not feel in my own life even though I’m often living from one task to the next, one project, one calendar page to the next.
Now, my time spirals like a spinning top that one day will just stop. At least in the physical sense of here and now. Like perennials that bloom then wither and die to return again next year, being one with Tao offers eternity. But eternity sounds like “the future” to me. The traumas I’ve experienced and bagged up thus far have been exhausting. I don’t know if I could take eternity. Better to stay in the now.
And did you know Daylight Saving Time was originally conceived by Ben Franklin?
If I could freeze this exact moment in time, my skin would stay supple, my eyesight strong, and I would remain spry. So, even though I am staying in this moment in time, time itself is moving ahead — whether I like it or not — and I am running out of time.
The Daylight Saving Time change ill-affects me. Preferring to keep things as natural as possible, I don’t want my circadian rhythms messed with. They already have enough trouble from my PC, thank you. The Earth continues to rotate in 24-hour cycles. Are we going to try to change that too?
How do you perceive time? Has it felt different as you age? How do you feel about Daylight Saving Time? Does it have any affect on you?
Seeing these rounded hay bales in expansive green fields began to stir something deep within a few years ago that felt strangely comforting.
I hadn’t observed this prior to practicing Qigong where I first felt a gentle, circular energy flowing between my hands. The movements soon enriched my gardening activities and evolved my thinking about continued life which led me to the Tao and a spiraled understanding of nature and our connectivity to the universe.
Yin-yang‘s circular energy symbolizes life’s continuum and oneness; that nothing is 100% black or white, right or wrong; we need one to have the other. Hours accelerate around the clock transforming day to night through the calendar of winter to spring, summer to autumn, season to season, year to year, era after era, wrinkled newborn to withered senior. This energy of oneness incorporates ourselves, others and the universe.
It is said that with Qigong (or Tai Chi) practice, you begin to view all of life as part of this circle. I have and am grateful for it. I see the circular trees, the ever lasting round sun and moon, the flowers that know to return year after year, the rounded hay bales at harvest. I use to fear death as a finality of life. But Qigong, gardening, and being in nature have taught me otherwise. This freedom from despair over my eventual death or that of loved ones is healing. Perhaps that is why the hay bales are like Mother Nature’s hugs, offering a soothing kinship with nature and all that is around me.
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day sat on my bucket list for several years. With no events offered in my small, semi-rural community, I made up my mind last year to drive 1.5 hours to participate. The powerful group energy felt like a profoundly calming universal hug, not to mention the good people I met and now have the pleasure of studying the Tao with. Yes, I make the 3 hour roundtrip drive to do this monthly but it brings me so much pleasure it’s a worthy investment. Now, World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is an annual must do event for me. (FYI, it’s always the last Saturday in April at 10AM local time.)
As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), safeguarding my own peace and serenity (aka well-being) is critical for me. Detaching from the bombardment of frenetic and frantic energy through sensationalized “news” while staying engaged with humans and the environment is key, and I’m meeting numerous others with similar observations. Like the waitress who sadly said, “I’m serving more and more families who come in and sit glued to their phones rather than talk to each other. It doesn’t make sense!” Or the fellow concert goer who high-fived me after first responding in shock, “You did what?! I’d like to give up this thing too and get my life back.”
For the record, I recognize some value in having technology like GPS or locating a restaurant in an unfamiliar city, but it’s not worth the expense to me — financially, mentally or emotionally. I just don’t need technology. My life M.O. has changed to “discarding” rather than “adding” non-essentials. I value my time more. I see how easily I could become addicted. And I see the stress — whether to the user or those around them — from constantly pinging phones interrupting each moment, deteriorating eye contact and banishing personal interaction. I see others trying to remedy their lives after their electronic financial accounts were hacked… What I don’t see is the value of turning my life over to technology.
But anyway, the point of this post is to encourage you to try World Tai Chi & Qigong Day if you haven’t already. Whether you are or aren’t engaged with technology, Tai Chi and Qigong are certain to bring a calmness into your life. And couldn’t we all use that these days?
“To be still, get still,” popped into my head while feeling dizzily over-stimulated from noisy store crowds, parties, and meandering traffic this week. The holidays can drain anyone and especially with technology’s hastened pace and constant bombardment.
For many years I’ve chosen to celebrate the holidays through the beauty of the land. Whether it’s gathering aromatic pine boughs on the morning of Christmas Eve or breathlessly climbing a steep slope of evergreens to gain fresh perspective on New Year’s Day — intimately connecting with Mother Nature is my holiday spirit. It is the quiet, the crunch of my boots in the snow, the sun warming my face, and breathing in fresh pine, that speaks to me deep within. Glowing candlelight and a poinsettia paint the mellow ambience I love. Add in laughter, healthy food and hand drumming with friends, and voila’; I’ve created a non-traditional holiday out of love, not stressful obligation. And as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I want for nothing more.
This year, I’ve received wise words from unexpected sources — women I’ve never met but with whom I share a Nature-focused spiritual path:
Particularly comforting in the midst of losing so many trees to pipeline construction are the words of a Yoruba priest: “Nature is resilient. The trees will come and go – some naturally and some by the needs and destructiveness of man. Don’t cry for the trees. They have served their purpose and they have planted their seeds. They have helped those of the earth in many ways – the humans, the animals, the air, the soil, and other nature beings. Their spirit is resilient and they will be reborn in other forms and once again, serve their purpose. Perhaps one of them lies in you. This is the nature of life.”
Find a pine cone and place it in front of you. Gaze at the pinecone for a full minute, then close your eyes and imagine the pinecone-shape behind your third eye. Envision the scales of the pinecone unfolding and opening to take in nourishment from Divine Light, and see your pinecone-shaped pineal gland energized and radiant. In this space, consider all the benefits of pine medicine and imagine this energy as a white light healing your mind, body, and spirit.
The wisdom of the land is why I love it so.It teaches me about living life.
I didn’t think much about gratitude while growing up. Actually, I’d say I was pretty ungrateful in those years. Raised in a dysfunctional family — although I didn’t know that’s what it was then, just that my father would rage at a moment’s notice — we often ran for our lives. Literally. It wasn’t until I married a man in a 12-step program that I considered the word gratitude.
While my new husband’s recovery from prescription painkillers opened the Al-Anon door for me, I couldn’t relate to others struggling with loved ones’ active addictions because my husband already had three drug-free years when we met. In times of angst, I turned to gardening but it couldn’t eradicate a darkness I felt deep within. And then I found a different 12-step meeting — ACOA. For the first time in my life I felt I belonged, and tasted true fellowship.
Listening to others traumas from similar or worse upbringings lessened the impact of my own. I now realized my family wasn’t the only one that didn’t look like Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want or Freedom from Fear paintings. Feeling safe and unjudged, I unveiled the shame that overshadowed three decades of my life. I now understood my father as a rageaholic and how this ill-affected our family. (This is the early 1990’s before recovery became a buzzword and rehabs became multi-million dollar businesses.)
Twelve Step meetings — of any kind — frequently discuss gratitude and suggest keeping a gratitude journal to heal the spirit. My gratitude can be as simple as I’m grateful the sun is shining, for the joy my dog gives to me, or for my eyes to see the beauty around me. It is a daily prompt in my thoughts illuminating my heart.
A gift of the Twelve Steps is learning to live life instead of just surviving, existing, staying sober or stopping an addiction. Hearing someone share, “I was so busy looking at the thorns that I didn’t see the rose,” changed my life forevermore. I now look for gifts in unanticipated circumstances rather than see challenges as problems. The more I became grateful, the more I’ve had to be grateful for.
A few more decades later, I’m still evolving and learning other shades of gratitude. I’ve come to realize and feel grateful that the darkness of my youth led me to 12-step recovery. The Twelve Steps expanded my spirituality and lessened my fears to try new things and be who I really am. I evolved to become passionate about hand drumming which led to my interest in the Tao. My understanding of the Tao and life grows through gardening. Coming full circle, I more fully understand and am grateful for all the layers of my life. As my 12-step friend once told me, “The gift is as great as the pain.”
Dazzling greenand metallic blue dragonflies transformed my summer to autumn. Taking in the colorful, changing fall landscape yesterday amid September temps, I was mesmerized when a silvery golddragonfly as sparkly as Christmas ribbons landed on my garden chair. We both sat perfectly still for the next few minutes, its lipstick red mirrored dots on gossamer wings captivating me.
Surely, clothing and fabric designers must get their ideas from nature I thought. And then my view cast to the maple tree reflected in the pond, and the pathway illuminated from a myriad of golds, greens, browns, oranges and reds that painted the cherry, pear, oak, magnolia and unidentified trees.
I felt awestruck that nature could beso endlessly beautiful, even while dying.
But, then I decided to look at it another way. Just as the dragonfly transforms so does the tree. It may shed leaves until it stands stark and bare but there is a regenerative undercurrent; it is not approaching death, it is transforming, preparing for another season, for another time, for the vitality of Spring.
My view of the seasons reflecting life — birth (spring), prime of life (summer), mid-life (autumn) and end of life (winter) — has also transformed. No longer do I see only one life cycle. Nature is teaching me more about life and what I use to call death. More and more, I am convinced the end is not the end per se. Life, for us, for trees, for seeds has many cycles. I’d much prefer to think I’ll continue to grow and evolve than to die back and out. The roses return. Perennials too. Trees grow new leaves and bloom in the spring. Again and again and again.
…is a word I’ve replaced with synchronicity mostly after working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way book. Before that, I viewed coincidence in the sense that there are no coincidences, meaning God has a hand in everything. And I’m not referring to God of any particular religion but God as in a Higher Power.
When my thinking evolved toward synchronicity, I continued to view things in a spiritual way. Like manifesting my dreams. I became more aware and more in tuned to the little things that were helping me along my way.
My most recent synchronistic experience relates to my lifelong dream of visiting Scotland, along with some other recent nudges. Since practicing Qigong the last few years, my thoughts of God and the Universe are directed toward nature which has led to an interest in studying the Tao. Participating in World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTCQ) has also been on my list but scheduling conflicts prevented me from taking part in this annual international event. (It’s always held at 10AM on the last Saturday of April.)
But, this year I was free to drive an hour-and-a-half to participate in WTCQ Day with a group of seeming strangers in a lovely rolling green park dotted with blooming cherry blossoms. (A favorite springtime site that takes my breath away.) Imagine my delight when I heard the announcement, “We have a monthly discussion group on the Tao. If anyone is interested please see me for details.” Wow! Did I hear that right? Two dreams come true via one event.
Then, when I first attended the Tao discussion meeting in July, I learned that one of their mutual friends runs sacred travel pilgrimages in Scotland. Woo hoo! Synchronicity at it’s finest, I’d say. A week later I ran into a fellow yogi I hadn’t seen for a while. “I just got back from Scotland yesterday,” she reported. “Already I can’t wait to go back!” She smiled and I smiled too. Another confirmation the Universe was guiding me toward satisfying this long time desire.
Coincidence and synchronicity are mystical experiences for me. My thinking has changed over the years from too good to be true to believe in the magic. Awareness is the key for so many things, and particularly for unlocking the gifts of this phenomenon. I believe synchronicity is happening all the time, I only need open my eyes and see. Then, I open my heart in gratitude and smile wide.