The Abundance of Corn Angels

corn kernels real

Harper and I are out on our walk, and he is walking slowly along the side of the road, looking for corn kernels. We share our neighborhood with corn farmers. I slow the pace of my walk to his treasure-seeking cadence.

Our other dog Cinnamon taught him about the corn kernels. There is something magical about these corn kernels. As soon as they all disappear, and we think there will be no more for the season, some new ones appear, as if by magic.

This happened so consistently that we started to joke about Cinny’s Corn Angels. Just when we were sure that she had scoured the road for all the available kernels, the next day, more would appear. I have no rational explanation for how these corn kernels get there throughout the winter, but Cinny doesn’t need a rational explanation. She just expects them to be there.

This whole experience with Cinny’s Corn Angels has been a great lesson in abundance for me.

I was raised with a lot of unhelpful beliefs about abundance, like “we’d better make sure we get all these corn kernels right now, because you never know when there will be more.”

What if, instead, I was to trust that my true needs will always be met?

When I think about it, all of my true needs are always met. Perhaps not all the things that I think I need, but certainly all of my true needs.

I have come to expect that the corn kernels will be there too, just like Cinnamon does.

What would be possible for you, if you trusted that all of your true needs were always met?

The Last Clover

last clover too

This clover has survived a foot of snow, a deluge of rain, and a lot of brisk winds, all in the last few weeks.

Clover is very common in the ditches and fields here. My farmer neighbor planted a swath of it at the edge of his corn field two years ago, and he cut it a few times over the season, to feed it to his cows. It has now spread over to my side of the road, and this one has somehow escaped being cut by the road maintenance crews.

I was amazed to see this blossom, because I haven’t found anything else recently that is still blooming. This morning it is covered in frost.

Sometimes it is in the most ordinary things that we find beauty.

My soul needs these moments of beauty. When I saw this, it pulled my mind out of its trance. I loved the color and delicate-looking nature of it.

I think all of our souls need these moments of beauty, and I also think that they are all around us. It is just that I miss most of them because my mind is pulled in so many directions as I am walking.

Today I recommit to myself that I will pay more attention as I walk, and that I will really see the beauty that is around me. This clover has taught me this.

Where do your moments of beauty show up?

Snow Birds

junco

The Snow Birds are back.

They are actually Juncos. They are a bird that migrates in to spend their winter here, hence their nickname. I know, when I see them, that the first snowfall is not far off.

I look forward to the arrival of the Snow Birds each year, I appreciate their company for the winter months. Most songbirds are long gone, having taken off for warmer climes. They won’t be back until March or April, even May, for some.

The Snow Birds scratch in the snow to access their food. I marvel at their ability to survive in the harsh conditions of our winters. They look soft and fragile, but they are actually very hardy.

As I get older, I catch myself thinking that I am fragile, and I can unconsciously begin to act “as if” I am, falling into alignment with cultural expectations for people of my age group.

I’m not recommending that we get reckless as we age, but I do think that we need to remember how many life skills we have, and how wise and capable we really are, from all the living that we have done. And, how hardy we are.

Sometimes I look at the Snow Birds and think that they must be having a hard time in the rigors of winter. And then I remember that they are built for it.

That is what I wish us to remember too: our hardiness, our resilience, our capability. We are built for it.

Beauty and Dignity

beauty dignity

I look at this tree and see beauty, strength, and dignity.

This tree lived a long time. Probably not a hundred years, like the oaks on this land, but a long time. When I look at it now, I see its history. I think of the many years of growth, and green, and colors changing in the fall.

This tree stands like a sentry at the edge of the prairie. It has stood in many winters, exposed to the blasting winds and snow that sweep down this hill. It has stood for cycle after cycle.

I feel like we can learn a lot from trees, about the cycles of life that are similar to our cycles. Sometimes we feel like we are in dormancy, like something is incubating, and all there is to do is to wait. This is always hard for me to do, but it isn’t hard for the tree.

And then there is growth, and production, and harvest, when the tree is a real work horse. The tree teaches me about sustainability in this cycle.

There is much for the tree to teach me about letting go. In the Autumn, the leaves fall easily from the tree. I could learn about letting go, with ease, and making way for the next cycle of growth.

But most of all now, I feel like this tree can teach me about aging with beauty, and strength, and dignity. This is what I am looking to learn these days, and when I look at this tree, standing alone, I feel this tree radiating these qualities.

It is beautiful and strong, regardless. That is what I want to be.

What do you learn from trees?

Letting Our Full Colors Shine

muted landscape

On my walk today, I noticed how muted the colors in the December landscape have become.

This obviously happens every year, and every year it takes me a while to adjust to it.

It is like things are fading away, into nondescript blah-ness. I love color: full, robust, vivid, vibrant color. Color engages me; it gets my attention. Color excites me. I feel like I am living a fuller version of myself and my life when I am in a colorful environment.

The muted landscape got me thinking. How often do we mute ourselves? How often do we hold back from expressing the full color of our point of view, our wisdom, our perspective? How might we hesitate from taking what feels like bold, colorful action?

Settle in, relax, and ask your deepest wisdom: How do I mute myself?

What bubbled up from that inquiry from deep within me is that I mute myself when I don’t publish what I write. I have so many reasons, but none of them are good enough to hold myself back. I read something just last week about how important it is for us to publish, because there might be even just one person out there who would feel good hearing what we have to say, in just the way that we say it.

The guidance from within me is not to publish every single thing I write, but to search my heart and in that, I will know what is ready to go out into the world. This feels right. In the past, I have held my writing back, trying to make it better, or because I’m not sure it will be significantly different than everything that is out there already. I don’t just ask my “inners” if it is ready to go.

Our colors are our colors. They are, by definition, different than anyone else’s, if we let them shine into their full authenticity. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic, makes the distinction between original and authentic. She says: “Well, yes, it probably has already been done. Most things have already been done – but they have not be done by you.”

It’s important to let our full colors shine. The world needs all of our unique and individual essences, shining to their fullest.

Where might you be muting yourself? Where can you let your colors shine?

Who I Want to Be – Two Ninety-Year-Old Friends

fuzzy plant

Harper The Dog and I were – you guessed it – on a walk at the park when I noticed a man and woman coming slowly up the path towards us. The woman was using a walking stick, and she was moving very slowly.

I asked Harper to sit, as I do for all passerby’s, and when the man reached us, he stopped to talk. Almost everybody stops to talk to Harper; he’s quite the attention getter.

His wife caught up to us, and we had the most delightful conversation. They lived in Woodstock, about 20 miles away, and they said that they come to the park often.

Animated, they told me about how they love living in their house in Woodstock so much that they have hesitated to move into a smaller house, even though they don’t really need all the space they have.

They told me how much they love their walks in the park, and seeing the colors change in the prairie all through the seasons. I love that too.

She told me about a dog that her grandmother had, when she was a little girl, living on her grandmother’s farm.

It was clear to me, just from a few moments of conversation, that they loved their whole lives, and each other.

They loved to stay active, and they loved being out in Nature. They love it so much that they frequently drive 20 miles to the park.

Then, he told me he was ninety years old.

I loved this couple immediately. They inspired me, with their clear commitment to grab life and live it to the hilt. With their commitment to remain active, they were exactly the antidote I needed to counteract all of our cultural beliefs that aging is a slow, painful decline into inactivity and death.

We said goodbye, and they moved at a crawl, up the steep hill that Harper and I had just come down. I marveled at their vitality and their positive spirit. I felt so blessed that they had come across my path that day. What a gift.

They are who I want to be, with however much time I have.

Who do you want to be?

Harper Time

harper time

I’m at the park with my dog Harper, and it is a stunning November day. We are blessed with full sunshine and a bright blue sky, on this crisp fall day.

He and I are alone in the prairie, and I’ve chosen the long walk. There won’t be many more days like this before the snow flies.

I have decided to let Harper set our pace today. He meanders here and there, attending to scents and leaping up when the grasshoppers leap across the path.

I was curious about what his pace would be, and even more curious about what would happen if I trusted his pace, for me. He speeds up as we enter the oak forest, and slows down when we get to the meadow. He passes by the bench in the glade.

How many times have I tugged him along, rushing him to my pace? Getting the walk done so that I can get to the next thing that needs doing. Do I really want my end-of-life memories to be filled with all the things I was able to check off my To Do List?

As we finish our walk, Harper’s rhythm has done me a world of good. I can feel, deeply, how important it was to do this, to take our time, and for me to be with him, just being present to every moment. He truly is one of my greatest teachers.

I stop and take a moment just to be grateful for the breath that I took when we arrived at the park, when I tried to “feel into” what this bit of time “wanted to be.”

I’m exploring the idea that life unfolds in a way that is perfectly organic for us, if we let it. Before launching into the next thing, I stop, breathe, and “feel into” the question: What is it time for, now? I have been doing this more, lately.

This practice takes some radical trust on my part, trusting that each moment has it’s own right action, and that some greater intelligence is guiding me in it. And that if I “feel into” the question, I can discern what that action is. It is a way of inviting the being and the doing to dance in the moment.

It’s a powerful way of being in the world, and yet I still have a hard time trusting that all will get done when I come to life like this. I actually think that not only will all get done, but that it will get done more easily, because I am coming to each moment in a fuller, more present way. This is how things flow.

There will be other days, perhaps cold, blustery ones, when what “wants to be” in the time is vacuuming. Today, it was time for meandering.

What is it time for, now, for you?

The Art of Receiving

red leaf in brown

Today as I am walking, a glint of bright red catches my attention.

It’s a bright red maple leaf, amongst all the brown oak leaves, and I know that this was meant for me to see. On my walks, I am always eager to discover what life is showing me, right in the moment.

I particularly love the colors of maple leaves in the fall, and there are very few maple trees in my neighborhood. This one is a tiny seedling, with just the one leaf on it. But it is showing its colors brightly, and it delights me to see it.

My walks have become so much more enjoyable since I have become more engaged with my environment. Part of being more engaged is that I look for things to draw, and drawing helps me see better.

I think it is more than just seeing better, though.

I think it’s as simple as being very present to my experience, and not with my thinking brain, but with my heart.

It is a receiving, more than a seeing.

I believe that what is meant for us is given to us in every moment. What varies in our ability to receive is our attentiveness and our openness.

If we believe that life has an intelligence (and it is hard not to believe that, knowing that the acorn has oakness already in it), then why wouldn’t we have the intelligence that we need, for our full experience of life?

So I have been practicing receiving what is meant for me, in any moment. This is easiest for me to do when I am out on my walks, because I feel very connected with nature.

When I am in nature, it is easy for me to tune in and be present in the moment, and to see what is meant for me. In nature, it is much easier than it is in other activities of my life.

What is meant for me can come on any channel. Sometimes I see it. Other times I feel it or just get a sense of it, or a hunch. Sometimes a picture might come into my mind.

When I give myself whole-heartedly to my experience, and tune in completely, I become aware of whatever is being given to me, or meant for me, in any moment. I do this by surrendering any expectations or agenda that I might have in my mind, and I become a “fertile field” of awareness.

I think this is what makes me open and receptive to receiving what is being offered to me by life, in any moment.

So, I’ve been practicing this art of receiving on my walks, because that is where it is easiest for me to be present, aware, and receptive. Maybe someday I will be able to be this way in the rest of my life.

How do you tune into what is meant for you to receive?

Cleansing Wind

cleansing wind

I stepped out of the door today and was moving into a cold, blasting wind. It’s the character of November in my part of the world to clear and cleanse everything in its path.

The trees that had, only just a few days ago, been showing off their fall splendor of oranges, reds, and yellows, are now being stripped clean and clear.

What if we allowed ourselves to be stripped clean and clear too?

Let the wind come in and take all of my old beliefs and expectations that I no longer need. Take those desires that just don’t serve me anymore.

How freeing this would be, just to let the autumn winds cleanse me.

What do you want to be cleansed of?

Being Who We Want to Be

cinn surgery too

Our dog Cinnamon had surgery, and she came home with a lot of healing ahead of her, and a complex set of post-operative protocols involving special food, a special feeding schedule, meds, activity restrictions, and so on.

Just like a post-operative person, she needs some careful attention for a while, so that her body has everything it needs to heal.

My dogs bring so much joy to my life, and I love them so much, that it is an easy choice to put aside my own desires and agendas to give Cinn the care that she needs. I am truly grateful to be of service to her.

What I find most challenging is to adjust my pace to her needs. I need to walk very slowly when I take her out. It’s important for her to feel included in “pack life,” and given her limited mobility, that means that I sit and just be with her.

In short, I need to take things at her slower pace for much of the day, during the next few weeks.

This made me realize that in serving her, I get an opportunity to be the person I want to be.

I want to take life at a slower pace.

I want to sit and just be.

I want to radiate calm and love.

I want to be generous in spirit and spacious in the way I come to life.

I’m coming to believe that everything we do in life is an opportunity to be, more, the person we want to be.

But some circumstances and relationships call us forth to this becoming in a more powerful way than others.

Who do you want to be?

Who, or what, helps you be more of who you want to be?

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