I have discovered that looking for and focussing on the good characteristics of others is not only good for them, it is good for my spirit as well.
“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” ~Alan Alda
If you have been following this blog you may have noticed that many of the entries reference the changes in my life that resulted from some unexpected challenges encountered 5 years ago. I’ve talked with many people over the years and have noticed that, by a certain age, each individual has a story to tell about one particular year they will never forget – a year that has become in many ways, a defining moment in their present lives. 2010 was such a time for me. A set of circumstances occurred, some small and some big, and together they set into motion a season of transformation in my life.
Pre-2010, there was hidden deep in my heart, the desire to grow and develop – to metamorphose into something new. So when the pressing need for change presented itself, I was ready to step out to meet it, albeit with shaky legs.
In the early days of my transformation I experienced a recurring dream. I would dream of finding new rooms within my home. This dream was one of excitement. At times I would awaken laughing. I became curious about the theme of this dream, and for some fun, goggled it. I was delighted to discover I am not the only person who has experienced this dream.
“New rooms in a house in a dream can relate to areas in our lives where we are discovering new skills, abilities or strengths within ourselves. While we may feel we know who we are and what we are capable of, dreams of new rooms invite us to open our minds to the possibility that we have even greater potential than we thought. New rooms are like an extension of ourselves. Just because a house is built does not mean we need to move out when we need more space, we can extend and build to make the house accommodate our growing and changing needs. So too can we extend our own personality, to embrace new ways of living. Dreams of new rooms invite us to look at what we thought were our limitations, and to recognise that we can move beyond them.” – http://thedreamwell.com/
I am a spiritual (not religious) person, so I believe this dream was sent by God* as a sign that I was on the right track and an encouragement to keep pressing on, no matter how difficult or frightening the future looked. I had faith that things were going to work out – though perhaps not as I would have planned them, but in a way that was so much better. This dream really got me through some rough patches.
I would like to encourage anybody who is going through their own transformative and challenging time, to keep going. Even if your steps are baby steps. Even if you feel you have stepped backwards a little. Just keep going. The joy of coming to know yourself, the peace of living your own truth, and the confidence from learning to love and accept yourself as you are, are the treasures you will collect along the way of your own gypsy journey.
*(To my thinking, God is the wonderful Creator of the Universe who I believe is known by different names and in different ways to people – I do not put God in a box that caters only to one religion. Your understanding of God may well be different than mine, and I completely respect this.)
I’m blessed to be a Grandmother – a little earlier than I expected, but still feeling blessed about it.
As soon as I became a Grandmother, I started getting comments from well-meaning strangers and friends.
“YOU are a Grandmother?”
“You barely look old enough to be a Mom, and now you’re saying you’re a GRANDMA?”
“You are such a young looking Grandmother.”
I know that these comments come from a caring spirit and I do appreciate them.
I, like most other women, enjoy receiving a compliment. Thanks go out to my Mama who gave me the genes to look like a young Grandma!
That being said, there is more to me, as there is more to any woman, than the genes we happened to be born with. And let’s not forget that no matter how good those genes are, time marches on and age catches up to us all.
I can’t help how my cheek-bones sit. I have no control over my body shape and metabolism. I can use all the sunscreen and expensive anti-age creams I can afford, but I will still get wrinkles and gravity will still have it’s way with my body.
This is true for us all.
What I can control, though, is who I am and how I live. As my Grandmother told me, and I have now told my daughters, after a “certain age”, a woman looks like she has lived, not how she was born.
If you live in anger and bitterness, it will reflect on your face. Conversely, if you live in love and giving, that too will reflect itself outwardly. I have seen beautiful older women in their 70’s and up, who have a lovely fresh glow about them, because they have beautiful spirits.
This is something I can control. Something so priceless, it can never be sold in a bottle.
I also think that it’s important to stay active, busy and learning. I know that when I do yoga or go for a long walk in nature, I feel grateful for the body I have (despite the imperfections) and comfortable in my own skin. And when I explore something new – like different foods, another area of the city, a new author – my curiosity is sparked and my mind expands. Things like these make me excited to be alive.
I think this enthusiasm adds a little sparkle, even to an aging continence.
Live well, be active, keep learning, love others, be curious, give generously, forgive, embrace what you have … These have all become my little “anti-aging” secrets.
In the end, I believe that growing older is a privilege and a blessing.
… I’m finally okay about it if you don’t.
After all, you have a right to your own opinion, and I respect this.
I also respect myself enough to know that I am worth so much more than to chase after the approval of someone who just does not like me for whatever reason.
The only approval that I really need is from me.
I believe this goes for all of us.
For me, peace followed when I allowed this truth to trickle down from my head to my heart.
It’s been a long journey for this former “people pleaser” to finally be able to claim this freedom.
Of course, I will always be a social person who likes most everyone she meets.
I really do wish that you like me.
But I also accept that this is not always possible.
And I leave it at that.
This has alleviated much suffering.
Fourteen years ago this month, my hubby and I packed up our kids and belongings and moved to our dream home. This home has features that appealed to all of us: formal dining room (me), an acre of land to run and play in (our kids), and a big garage and driveway (hubby).
Our new property also offered lots of potential for gardens. And planting I have done. Lovely lavender offers a gentle welcome by our entrances and around our gazebo. We have tomato and pepper plants available for a fresh addition to summer salads. There remain plenty of trees for shade and privacy. Two tiger lilies replanted from a work friend’s garden, became very fertile and multiplied along the front of our home. All our gardens have done exceptionally well.
All, except for one, that is.
One small section of the garden by our front porch absolutely refused to accept any of my efforts of planting or seeds. No matter how hard I tried, this little plot of soil yielded nothing.
Not one to give up easily, I made enquiries at garden centres, googled on-line, added new soil, put down some mulch, etc. etc. etc. All to no avail. This little garden spot simply refused to cooperate with my efforts.
Finally, five years ago, I gave up trying.
In order to keep this section from looking completely bare, I plopped a potted strawberry plant that was gifted to our family, on the soil.
At the end of that summer, the summer of 2010, when I was cleaning the gardens for the fall, I noticed the strawberry plants had climbed over the pot, and made their way down to the ground. Not only that, a couple of the little green shoots had gone ahead and somehow planted themselves into the soil. “How interesting”, I mused to myself, as I carefully snipped the planted shoots from the pot, and continued with my late summer gardening chores.
When the spring of 2011 dawned, I was delighted to discover those little strawberry shoots had survived the winter. “They actually appear quite healthy”, I told my husband. “Perhaps they like this tiny garden spot”. So I cultivated and weeded the surrounding soil, but added nothing. I decided that allowing this little garden to grow in it’s own way, seemed like the wisest course of action.
And to my delight, those small strawberry plants grew and spread, at times yielding a few sweet fruits.
As the years have passed, our little strawberry garden has grown well, with plants spreading to fill the entire plot of soil that I once struggled so intently with. All that remains necessary, is a bit of weeding, cultivating and watering.
I guess this little garden had it’s own agenda. It’s transformation has left me amazed.
This morning I had some alone time, and was able to pause and ponder on this garden. I wondered if there was a spiritual lesson in all of this?
I recall my own journey.
At one time, coincidentally pre-2010, I was a woman who took her religion very seriously. I attended my Christian church every single Sunday. Rain or shine, sick or healthy, even when I was so weary I could barely roll out of bed – Sunday mornings would find me in church.
I adhered to a very strict bible reading schedule, making sure to touch on both old and new testaments upon rising in the morning, as well as adding a sprinkle of an epistle during the day, and a dash of proverbs or psalms before bed.
Always having been a book-worm, my reading became limited to solely Christian works – how to be a better Christian, how to be more loving, how to be holy, how to be a biblical wife … Unfortunately, with a full time job, kids and a husband, there was no time left over to read for the simple joy of it.
I was filling my days, trying so hard to be the perfect Christian lady. In my understanding, all these activities I was doing were like seeds that I was planting in my heart and spirit, to yield a beautiful garden for God.
But in 2010, change happened and I was challenged with some situations that I had never even dreamed I would face.
I checked in on my little Christian garden that I had worked so hard on growing in my heart. After all my hard work, efforts and diligence, I was disappointed to find that this garden was barren. It was yielding nothing.
I threw my hands up and cried out to God: “Why?!”
And somewhere within the silence that followed , I perceived a subtle answer.
“Relax. You try so hard to know Me. But I am always with you. And you have all of eternity to discover Me. Breathe, and let everything unfold as it should.”
In the years since, I have done just that.
What a journey it has been! I have found new ways to know the Divine in a natural manner as I go about my day:
– Through sharing stories and giggles over a bottle of wine with a then new and now precious girlfriend;
– Through walking my sweet puppy along paths I had previously never given myself time to explore;
– Through enjoying a young adult book series, all light and fun, uplifting and easy to read;
– Through taking a few extra moments to look a homeless lady in the eyes, and help her find the coin she just lost in the grass at a park by my work.
I have discovered so many ways to see and know God in the places and people I encounter during the ordinary moments of my day. These are the seeds that have planted themselves into my heart and spirit.
How lovely is the way this garden has grown itself.
Last week-end hosted amazing weather. I spent Sunday, garden tools in hand, cultivating, weeding and watering what has become my favourite little garden plot, filled with strawberry plants. To my utter surprise and amazement, a new little gift has emerged from the soil. Unexpected and unplanned, standing strong and proud, is a mysterious little tulip. “Now, where did you come from, little one?” I asked. “Never mind, I am so glad you are here. Welcome to our wonderful, mysterious, magical garden!”
I have found so much joy and peace in this.