Following Nature’s Clues

caleb-george at unsplashNature’s transitions, like changes in daylight and colder temperature, throw many people off balance. The results of this can be seen in feeling down, wanted to stay indoors, struggling with colds and flu or even stomach viruses.

Don’t you find it interesting that Nature’s creatures are able to flow so easily between the seasonal changes? Plants and animals sense when it’s time to change and begin the process.  Plants and trees begin to go dormant, lose their leaves and the sap flows down in the roots preparing for winter.  Nature knows how to prepare for each season.

Following the clues from Nature allows one to flow in harmony with the changes and seasonal patterns. Fall is Nature’s time of letting go. Without letting go, there can be no real rest during winter, and no subsequent growth the following spring. Every part of the process has a reason and a purpose, and it all combines to create the cycle of seasons we witness every year.

This is the time for ‘letting go’ of things we don’t need. This could be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual things. For example, getting rid of clutter, releasing old ideas and beliefs that hold you back or processing life events. In letting go of what may be holding us down, allows our bodies to deeply rest. We build up our Qi, or vital energy, and use it to strengthen our bodies for the winter season.

What remains is that which nurtures us keeping us from getting stuck during winter so that we can be rejuvenated when spring arrives.

Here are 6 tips to help you build your Qi for winter:

1. Let Go: Is there anything physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually you are holding onto right now? Give yourself some quiet time to become aware of what needs to go. Most of us can release feelings of stress, “have-tos and need-tos”, and physical items. Letting go of that which is no longer serves us open the way for contentment.

2. Contentment is the positive aspect of fall. Look around and focus on the all the things that make you feel content. In this past years what positive things did you accomplish and that you are proud of. Will any of those things continue to grow and expand? Celebrate them.

3. Copy Nature: There is less daylight. Nature has slowed down. Match this vibration by allowing yourself to get enough rest. Start to slow things down in your life and give yourself time to unwind and relax.

4. Eat and Think for Healing: Treat your body right! Start by feeding it warm, loving foods and warm, loving thoughts. Remember, on a lower level, you are what you eat. But on a higher level, you are what you think.

5. Meditate and/or Practice Qigong : During this seasonal transition, sit in quiet meditation or slowly and smoothly practice Qigong, especially “Breathing the Universe”. Notice your body, your breathing, any tightness, where everything flow and the gems of wisdom that surface.

6. Get Outside: On a sunny day, bundle up and get outside. Let the sun shine on your face. Absorb all of Nature’s goodness and notice how Nature’s creatures are reveling in the warm sunshine, too.

When you flow with Nature rather than fight it, life is easier, more joyful and you smile more.

Breathe, smile and enjoy!

A Modern Gypsy

How does one know they are a gypsy?old-retro-antique-vintage-163136-medium

In my case it consisted of 5 elements.

The first was being born into family that already has its share of misfits, mystics, and psychics. My maternal grandmother was a midwife, tea leaf reader, and herbalist. My paternal grandmother was a garden diva who’s life revolved around the cycles of the Moon and the seasons. Both grandmothers were psychics.

Added to this generational milieu, was my love of travelling, my secret desire was to be a hippie, the pull of wild gypsy music, and books that took me to foreign countries.

Which brings me to element number two.

I was 16 lazing around in the backyard on a sunny summer day when I heard a voice. Yes, a voice!

This voice stated very precisely, “You were going to live and work overseas.”

As strange as it may seem, those words resonated with me and I had no doubt that they would happen.

In the ensuing years I based many decisions on this voice. For example, my career choice to become a teacher and the subjects I studied.

And although life took me down a few paths that appeared incongruent with the message of this voice, it continued to whisper to me.

An example of this, was urging my husband to pursue an overseas post with his company. Needless to say, he didn’t have the same inner pull that I had.

This became evident when divine intervention, the third element, changed our plans and thus the course of my life.

After much persuading my husband agreed to a holiday in Europe. Four of us planned a summer in Spain but destiny had different plans. For a reason I can no longer remember, that plan was cancelled and instead we headed to Greece.

From the moment I stepped out of plane in Greece and saw Mt Olympus I began to change. The pull of the voice became a magnet which culminated one day on a beach in southern Crete.

I looked over at my husband and said, “I don’t want to go home.” He replied, “You can stay. You have another month of holiday, but I have to go back.”

I looked over at my two friends but they both had solid reasons for returning to Canada.

I left the group and waded into the water looking south. Wouldn’t you know it – there was the voice. This time it said, “Africa is over there. You will be there one day.” Once more I knew this was truth.

As we boarded the plane for home I vowed to Mt Olympus that I would return. The person who made this vow was very different from the one who greeted the mountain a month previous.

In Canada, I not longer fit into the world I had left and a 2 year battle began to raged within me. My spirit urged me on while my sense of duty and guilt tore at me.

Finally, I knew which path I had to take.

Stepping away from my marriage, security, and in some cases friends and family, was element 4. This was the step toward my vision. For the next couple of years, I was lead by an amazing series of synchroncities, one which opened the door to opportunity.

The opportunity was a chance conversation where I heard about CUSO at the U of A. How come I hadn’t heard about CUSO before?

From the moment I entered the CUSO office I knew I was in the right place. Here I was surrounded by friendly people sharing their stories of living in exotic countries.

I wasted no time. I signed up and then waited for my posting.

The voice from Crete whispered Africa but the CUSO staff felt it would be Asia. To be honest, I didn’t really care.

So, where did I go?

Six months later I found my self on a plane heading south to Nigeria, Africa. As I sat on the plane I knew without a doubt that there was a force much greater than myself sitting in the driver’s seat.

The final element in the making of this gypsy came on the day I moved into my new home.

With great ceremony Mrs. Scobie, the headmistress, drove the short distance to the house. She was so proud of it. On the outside a nice bungalow with an attached garage.

On the inside rickety furniture, curled and missing floor tiles, a seatless toilet, sink and tub but no water, a kitchen that consisted of a small stove and couple wooden boards for shelves, and 3 bedrooms with beds I wasn’t sure I wanted to sleep on.

Then there was the dust, cobwebs complete with spiders, termites in the door frames and more interesting creatures to be discovered later.

After Mrs. Scobie left I wandered from room to room and I all I could think of was, “What the hell have I done?” I sat in the living room and began to cry.

Right on cue there was the voice. “You have a choice go home or stay. It’s up to you.” I paused. I stopped crying. In popped the voice, “You wanted this.”

Yes, I did!
I was going to stay, make the most of it and have fun.

This was the final element in the making of a gypsy.

I choose this path, listened to my inner voice, followed where it led, took action, and made a decision to make the most of it.

This had taken me to 80 countries on all but one continent.
I have made the world my home.

My motto was and is: Where I am – there is home.

Stronger Than You Think

I am ever amazed at the resiliency of human beings. pexels-photo-169906-medium

Five mornings a week I teach English and settlement skills to refugees and many other newcomers to Canada.

In my role as teacher, I have heard some of the most horrific and heart wrenching stories. On a day-to-day basis I witness the struggle that these newcomers have adjusting to a new life in a new land were almost everything is strange and often incomprehensible.

Despite the hardships they have faced, the separation from family and friends, and the daily struggle to learn a new language, life and culture, the students arrive at school with a smile and an amazingly positive attitude.

I often wonder what it would be like to be torn away from family and friends and then shuffled about from country to country to finally end up in a place where you were to begin again. You are alone with your nuclear family or perhaps not. You no longer have your family support system. Your friends are either dead or in another country.

I cannot even begin to imagine what goes through the minds of my students.

What I do know is what they have taught me.

  • To go to work every day with a smile.
    To be grateful for everything I have right now.
    To trust that everything will work out.
    To know that in each of us there is a deep reservoir of strength and resilience.

 

As human beings we have an enormous capacity to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep going.

This is an ability each one of us has. To a greater or lesser degree, each one of us at some point in our life has had to pick ourselves up and keep going.

As you begin your day today smile and spread joy wherever you go. Look around you and be grateful for everything you have in your life at this moment. And know, that you are so much stronger than you think you are.

Those dark clouds that you have in your life will pass and the sun will shine again. You can help those clouds move away more quickly by knowing that no situation is permanent and that a slight change in thinking can make a huge difference in your reality.

Let us all show our greatness today and bring the sunshine back into the world.

In Joy,
Carolynne

What’s Your Ikigai?

The people on the island of Okinawa, Japan are some of the oldest, healthiest and most content people on the planet. What is their secret?

Ikigai! (pronounced icky guy)Ikigai

Ikigai translates as “a reason to wake up each morning.”

Do you have a reason for waking up each morning? Or do you reluctantly drag yourself out of bed each day thinking, “Another day to get through” or “Is it Friday yet?”.

Can you imagine waking up ready and eager for a new day of life?

It is possible! This is what an ikigai is: it’s waking up each day with a purpose  or direction. You know where you are going.

An ikigai is something you love to do, want to do, and that makes you feel alive.

It can be a specific goal, ambition or dream or it can also be something as simple as setting an intention for a new way of expressing yourselves or interacting with others. For example, some people find depth of meaning in cooking and caring for their family. Other people find it through genuine and sincere acts of kindness towards others, or it could be setting a mindset to open up to all new possibilities so that you let in a limitless amount of spontaneous and life-changing opportunities.

The basis of an ikigai is that it’s something that you enjoy and makes you feel vibrant and alive. As you grow and expand into your ikigai, you will also enhance other people’s lives through your vitality and energy.

It is about finding value in something that you love doing while mastering and developing talents and skills to ensure that it is sustainable.

My ikigai is to live each day as fully as possible and help others do the same.

There is a wonderful passage from “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll that give an indication as to why as ikigai is important.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
“Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” was his response.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter?”

Each of us has a choice, we can live our lives by default or we can live by intention. If you are happy with your life, great! But if you have a niggling thought that maybe there is something more, missing, or that you’re stuck, then perhaps you need a ikigai.

You can continue repeating the same patterns in your life or you can take steps toward that something that keeps tugging at you. In stillness if you listen to those yearning tugs you will hear what is calling. Your inner wisdom knows what you might fear to acknowledge.

You can take baby steps towards that longing without dismantling your life. Your first step could be to create an ikigai card which you place by your beside to read each morning to give your day purpose. Then do something each day with your purpose in mind. Each action will anchor your ikigai.

A joyful, peaceful and fulfilling life in your birthright.
Now is the time to reclaim it.

Change the channel.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
– Deepak Chopra

The other day I took my car in for an oil change and came away with an unexpected gift.

https-::www.flickr.com:photos:nfsaBy habit before I leave my car for service, I shut off the audio and slide my seat back. I move the seat back as a curtsey to the mechanic’s knees. I assume they are taller than me. As for turning off the audio, I don’t like it when the service folks change my programming or radio station.

Do you also have something that bugs you when it gets changed? I have to admit that there was a time when I had a long list.

Getting back to the oil change. When my car was ready I got into it, adjusted the seat and headed off to the next destination. As I was driving along something caught my attention…the music was different but enjoyable.

I checked and sure enough it was on a different station. I left it there and began to pay more attention to the music and before I knew it I was welcoming the new tunes I was hearing.

Looking back at that incident I realized it was a good metaphor for life. Often we cruise along doing the same old, same old out of habit. This routine can become so comfortable and easy that we don’t want it to change.

Then when something unexpected happens we immediately attempt to get back to that comfortable old space. If we can get back to the status quo quickly all is well, if we can’t then thoughts of fear, anger and unease grab hold of us.

We might even get into the thought circle of questions: “Why me? Why do things like this always happen? Why do I have to change?” Or simply, “I don’t like this and don’t want this!”

I have been there! Now that I can look back on it I see how much time energy I wasted on these thoughts that created nothing but unhappiness and stress. My favourite game used to be the thought circles!

Much like discovering the new radio station left by the mechanic, life often presents us with different ways of looking at or doing things. We have a choice to welcome them in or set a road block of misery. The great thing is, we always have a choice.

Change and choices are constant. We are offered so many channels and programs, it seems like a waste if we don’t grab on to some of them.

With a different program comes new vistas, new experiences, and opportunities.

You can stay where you are or you can change the station and discover something new. A surprise is awaiting you!

Share a time when you embraced the unexpected to find something new, wonderful or enjoyable.

Just show up!

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

life

While engaged in the “Creating the Impossible” course with Michael Neill, he used a phrase I’d never considered before. The phrase was ‘showing up’.

Initially, I wasn’t sure what he was getting at. I was showing up each day by waking up, going to work, taking care of my family and all the other little details of a busy life. I tried to keep my life balanced and positive.

But the more I listened to him, I began to understand what he was getting at. I was getting up, going to work and doing all the other things, but half of the time my mind was some place else or focused on an expectation.

Let’s take work example: I showed up every day, not really liking what I was doing, but I liked the pay cheque. I showed up with the sole purpose of monetary reward and went through the motions of productivity. I did what was required to get the reward, but gave little else. Much of the time I was tangled up in my thinking around liking or not liking the job/the people/the company. Or, I would drift around ‘been there done that’ so why am I here again, and the one going schemes for moving on.

When I saw this, I realized that I had been doing this for much of life. I had a huge list of hidden agendas for doing what I was doing, all of them lofty and designed to get approval. There appeared to be a hook at the end of all of my actions.

Then there is Michael’s version of ‘showing up’ that stems from the inside. This showing up comes from inner guidance. When you show up in this way you are open to whatever. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, where you are or what the conditions, you give it your all.

You leave your judgements, expectations and evaluations behind and give your attention to whatever is before you in that moment. This is what it means to show up to life.

As Eckhart Tolle says, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”

When I began to show up, with my full attention and understanding that I chose this, everything changed.

I began to realize I could be happy anywhere, doing anything. I saw how the power of my thinking pulled me away from the present and was the result of so much of my unhappiness.

In addition to this, everything began to be easier. I was getting tasks done in record time with no stress. I was more creative and opportunities began to appear. Most of all, my actions came from a place of joy. The joy of doing a great job without strings!

Yes, I appreciate the pay cheque at the end of the month, but that is not why I do what I do. I see money is an expression of appreciation (a term borrowed from Robert Scheinfeld) for my showing up with joy! Life is so much simpler.

Life happens, that is inevitable, but how I show up for each situation is up to me. I know that if I am struggling I have stepped away from the moment and inner awareness momentarily. All it takes is a breath and an awareness of the moment to bring me back to centre.

I would love to hear from you. Did this article generate an insight or stir up some questions? Let me know.

In Joy!