horn of plenty

An Invitation to Life!

Traditionally, the year end holidays are a time for expressions of gratitude and gift-giving. We acknowledge others for their contributions and thoughtfulness and give thanks for the yearly harvest we have reaped. Are your life working and are your coffers full of all the resources, joy and love you desire for living the good life? Or do you fear a winter of discontent?

Why not accept an invitation to change course and get more fully engaged in the flow of life.Continue reading

Liminality: Navigating Life’s In-Between Spaces

We’ve all had this experience.

inbetween spaceThings are moving along in a natural progression. Life is good. Then something happens that turns your whole world upside down.  You may feel overwhelmed, confused, or you may feel euphoric. Perhaps you’re not sure how you feel. You’re in a state of liminality.

Navigating Liminality can be challenging and requires great courage.
It can also be a time of deep inner reflection.

Rites of Passage

DSCN1232The word liminality, originally coined by anthropologists, referred to various rites of life passage. The root is the Latin word, “limen,” meaning “threshold.” It’s the crossing over from one state to another, as in the space between wakefulness and sleep.

A change of place, social position or age can precipitate this condition. Liminality has three stages: 1) Leaving where you’ve been or experiencing a loss 2) Passing through an ambiguous stage 3) Emerging into a new realm with renewed resolve.

Life passages are often celebrated through formal rites or rituals.

In an indigenous culture, an adolescent moving into adulthood performs a vision quest to find himself and his intended spiritual and life direction.

In modern culture, ceremonies are performed for graduations, engagements and weddings. One’s entire life is recognized and honored at a funeral or memorial service.

Often these events are led by elders, shamans or clergy. They help guide us through these transitions, offering wise counsel and encouragement to pass through the liminal threshold for what lies ahead. Wise guides are not always present for our passages, though.

Navigating loss

Alice meets caterpiller

Alice meets caterpiller

“Who are YOU?” asked the Caterpillar. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present –at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

~Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Some life changes come about through an unexpected circumstance or catastrophe. There is little, if any, time to prepare. Whether experiencing a natural disaster or a personal loss, we can never know how we are going to feel or react. This can be the most challenging liminal state of all.

Losing a loved one, even when it is inevitable,
creates a void and can leave you feeling empty.

When my mother died, I felt like an orphan. As I dwelled in the liminal cave of healing, I began to rethink who I was and what was my purpose in the world. With the help of a strong support system, I emerged at the other end inspired and with a huge amount of creative inspiration and lust for life.

Loss of a relationship can be a blow to your self-esteem. Thoughts like, “what did I do wrong,”  “I’m not lossloveable”, “I’ll never find another”, appear and cloud your mind.

When this happened to me a few years ago, I made the decision not to take it personally, trust that it was for the best. Beating myself up or holding anger served no healthful purpose. I’d been through other losses and always bounced back. I needed to forge a new path. A surprising healing takes place over time for most of us, especially those with a strong support system.

Job transition

With job loss, however, the longer one is without a job, the more likely one’s liminal period can include anger, depression and loss of self-esteem. A plummeting sense of self-worth can paralyze.

Yet, this can be a real opportunity to reevaluate your life. Examine your gifts and talents and uncover your true passions. Discover how you want to live the next chapter of your life. I have led many people in transition through this process.

Transformation

A liminal period can be life-transforming – for better or worse. It may be short or long-lived, even permanent.

Sometimes people drop out of society. Some vow never to be in relationship again, living with anger, guilt and resentment. Some accept jobs at less pay or status. Others heal, seek new relationships, start businesses, and re-enter the social whirl in a new form.

This can be an opportunity to step back, to review your creative foundation and life purpose. A time to test your potential.

I move into liminality every time I begin to write these articles. I may think I know what I want to say. Then, through research, introspection and extemporaneous writing, new ideas emerge and flow onto the page.

Inner Work

Liminality can be the rich soil to grow creative ideas,
a new road to travel or even a new identity.

IntentionOur lives are constantly in flux. We’re absorbing new information, reflecting on the past, aspiring towards the future. Discomfort with transition can cloud our perspective. Anxiety and fear may try to divert us. Know it is just your fragile, threatened ego trying to block change.

Liminality can be taken into meditation where you can step back and reflect. Watch your mind, your thoughts and feelings. See problems as objects floating inside your head based on your perceptions, not who you really are.

Invite the ego to sit in your guesthouse of awareness, while you explore with openness the vast potentiality available to you. Explore the liminal space between thoughts, between breaths. This clears the pathway to commune with your Source where truth, peace and love reside, bringing you to a place of wholeness and enabling you to reenter the world anew.

“From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I’ve been told where I must go and who I must be…….but this is my dream. I’ll decide where it goes from here.”Adventures of Alice in Wonderland

Welcome liminality to help you decide where that will be. ~ Namaste

Let Go and Start Anew

haitiI can’t think of anything more devastating than an earthquake that causes loss of tens of thousands of lives, loved ones, limbs, livelihoods and homes for an entire country. The initial response is to sift through the rubble looking for any signs of life, then useful objects and mementos. Finding the spirit and determination to pick up the pieces and start anew takes enormous courage and fortitude. Our Haitian friends have weathered revolutions, hurricanes, government suppression – and yet there continues to be a spirit and will to start over.

We all face losses and disappointments throughout our lives, ruptured relationships, unsatisfying jobs, no promotion, missed opportunities and lost dreams. How can we emerge from our plight with a renewed vision to start down a new path, embrace the hope of creating something new, and forge something better?

Rodin_thinker_frontal_viewRuminating stuckness

When things go awry or we experience loss, our minds can flood with a downward spiral of painful thoughts ranging from rejection, worry, fear, to regret and low self esteem. Our mind utters familiar messages: “I’m not good enough,” “not loveable,” “not talented,”  “not successful.” “I’ll never find love and companionship, a good job, fulfillment, peace – or be free of pain.” “Why me?” “Why has God forsaken me?” “Why do I have to suffer?” “I can’t bear to be alone in the world.”

Could have, should have thoughts can ruminate constantly. We tell ourselves, “Surely this is all a dream. He or she will change their mind or the situation will all go back to the way things were. I’ll wait. The phone will soon ring and things will all be better.”  When the phone doesn’t ring, more hurt and even anger sets in. It can become a never-ending vicious cycle, like a hamster on a treadmill that goes nowhere. That is your fate until you face the finality and decide to step off the treadmill.

sky-1Make peace with your past

The spirit to start anew is available to everyone when we learn to let go of the old – relationship, job, way of life or whatever has you tied to the past. It’s not easy and it takes courage. But the payoff is finding that life still holds joy and gifts that abound and that can free your spirit to soar in unimaginable ways.

As I reflect over my own life, it is filled with losses – relationships, jobs, creative projects, endeavors that fell flat or for some reason just ended. Looking back with today’s eyes, I know I could have handled many things better. But I also know that I did the best I could with what I was capable of at the time. Each loss has taught me lessons making the next disappointment a little easier to handle.

I truly believe that we all do the best we can in any given situation. The challenge is to know when and how to let go so we have the resilience and strength to channel our energies in a new direction.

Read more: Processes to help you “Let Go and Start Anew.”

Let Go: Processes for Starting Anew

Read also “Let Go and Start Anew

One of the best cures for ruminating over loss and disappointments is to for-give (before giving). The process of forgiveness ultimately brings you back in harmony with the good feeling state you experienced before the loss – before the hurt enveloped you. This isn’t necessarily about forgiving the act or person or business. When you forgive the person, entity or force behind the act, either in person or from a place deep within your heart, where compassion resides, the ruminating energy is released. Hurt, blame and anger can dissipate, especially when you forgive the number one person – yourself. You then have the opportunity to channel that energy along life-giving paths. This is forgivenesstrue freedom.

Powerful processes to help you forgive include breathing and candle gazing. Every time you find yourself ruminating, breathe and with each exhalation mentally or verbally say, “I forgive.” When you gaze at a candle, visualize the melting wax as your letting go, forgiving and surrendering to the reality that is. You may even want to precede this by vigorously pounding or punching a large stuffed pillow to release pent-up emotions.

When do you know you’ve done enough forgiveness work?
When there is nothing left to forgive.

new growthThe choice of life
Change is the one thing that is assured in life. It’s part of the nature of all things. Nothing ever stays the same. While pain may still remain, you can choose to suffer and allow your spirit to die, or pick up whatever good that remains forge a new path and create something new.

Life is a precious gift we’ve been given. The courage to move on is a choice, as well as our responsibility for taking up space on this planet.

Part of this choice is to learn to not make assumptions, nor take things personally. You may or may not ever know the real truth behind other people’s actions, nor can you assume you do. You become free when you accept what happened, honor their choices and know that nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is related to their own reality, not yours.

Embrace transition
MakingChangeYourFriendJPGThe gift of change is that it allows you the opportunity to become more in touch with the “Real You” and reintegrate the various parts of who you are. It’s a chance to become more whole. When you let go of past attachments, you can rethink your life’s work, love, place and purpose.

Reflect on the lessons you have learned from your loss. What would you do differently in the future? Ask questions about all the things that are missing in your life, not just your recent loss. How would you like your life to look? How do you want to feel? What dreams have you put on hold? What are your core values? What provides meaning for you in life? Where are your passions?

With such questions, listen for the answers. Now you have the freedom to choose, not just fit in or copy others. What’s unique about you?

Refind your smile
When you let go of the enormous weight of past hurts, your spirit can lighten up. Engage with “nutritious” people, people who feed your soul rather than just your needs. Find people and groupDancing stick figure 03_72pixelss that make you feel whole and help you grow. Join a Meetup group Meetup_Logo(www.MeetUp.com). (Note: I will be starting a  “Let Go and Start Anew” group this spring).

To rekindle joy, find ways to laugh again. Watch comedy shows and movies. Find a yoga laughter club, or spend time with a young child and allow your inner child to engage in playful activities. Move your body to further release stuck emotions. Seek out body-centered activities like hiking, yoga and tai chi. Go dance your booties off!

newdayConnect and rekindle
What goes around comes around in life. Everyone experiences loss and everyone can start over. Know that you are not alone. Connect with your inner spirit, Source, God, Universal Consciousness. Soon the growing energy of Spring’s season will support you in rekindling your spirit, and you can start anew!

Are you ready to Let Go and Start Anew?

Contact me for a complimentary telephone session: Jacqui@HarmoniousPathways.com, 847-359-6391.

Passionate Living into Midlife and Beyond

Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr., once captured the essence of youth when he wrote, “In our youth our hearts are loaded with fire.” Youth, by nature, tend to be fearless and daring, filled with dreams and ambitions. They are like sponges absorbing every sensation as they seek their identity and life purpose. In adulthood, youthful passions fade, as we deal with day-to-day responsibilities of work, family, obligations. Certain life transitions, such as the loss of jobs, relationships or the death of a loved one can zap our fire even more.

I believe, however, that life longs to flow through us, and we all have the capacity to open our channels to rekindle passions or discover new ones–at any stage of life. I also believe it is our responsibility to do so.

What is passionate living?
To live passionately is to live with a sense of purpose, to engage in activities that you care about, that help you feel in “the zone”; when you lose track of time and are at one with the activity. It may be times when you feel great joy or inspiration such as being in nature.  It may be doing something that requires great hardship, as Mahatma Gandhi experienced. “Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into ineffable joy,” wrote Gandhi.

Passion is an expression of aliveness and giving of self. To be passionate is to be ruled by intense emotions such as boundless enthusiasm, excitement, inspiration or love. But passion can also be expressed as anger, envy, or even violence. Both extremes of our passions can “rule” our lives, leaving us feeling out of sync and out of control. Yet when we live with consciousness and mindfulness, our passions (or lack of them) can teach us who we are, where we belong, and where our passion lies. This learning can guide and enrich us, even as we traverse life’s inevitable challenges.

Explore your passions
Passion in midlife and beyond is grounded in wisdom that is focused purposefully. To live a fulfilling life with purpose, it’s important to explore what you truly care about, what gives your life meaning, and what is the legacy you wish to leave behind. Your life, no matter how seemingly ordinary, is extraordinary. You have great wisdom that can be shared with others. When old belief patterns are stripped of negative limitations, you become liberated–able to resurrect old dreams or create new ones. When you examine your life experiences, lessons learned, and the inventory of your gifts and skills, you can discover your true calling.

In The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50“, author Sara Lawrence Lightfoot uncovered in those she interviewed a sense of urgency about the finiteness of life. They were not only doing the things that had been left undone, but were also engaged in new learning, inspiring curiosity, innovation, and resourcefulness. They were exploring ways to reinvent themselves. Their wisdom encouraged them to become better listeners and more patient and to have the courage to speak their truth.

Get enthused
The word enthusiasm is derived from the Greek “entheos, ” which means “in god, or to be “possessed” or “inspired.” “When do you experience enthusiasm? If you are not in touch with your passions, try taking the following steps:

* Think of the people you know who have enthusiasm about what they do.
What characteristics do they have in common?
* Examine a newspaper–every news item, editorial, ad, or entertainment
feature. Which items grab you?
* Think back over your life looking for clues about when you felt enthused.
Pay special attention to events before age 11 before habits become ingrained.
* Consider the things that excite you or anger you most.
* Ask yourself why you get up in the morning.

Blueprint for vital living

1. Identity: Reflect on your life stories to help you know who you are.
3. Passion:
Determine what you care about and are called to do in life
3. Meaning:
Know that what you stand for and what you value provides fuel to keep your passion alive.
4. Place: Based on the above, where do you fit in and with whom?

Richard Leider and David Shapiro speak of growing “whole not old”. In their book Claiming Your Place by the Fire: Living the Second Half of Your Life on Purpose, they pose four aspects to explore for vital living:We live more passionately when we understand the deeper spiritual meaning of our lives. At any time of life it is valuable to take time for reflection, to evaluate what you have accomplished–or not–and create a new vision for where to go next. Is it a new career? A service opportunity or a new or unfulfilled dream? The authors of the books I’ve mentioned stress the importance of engaging in cross-generational activities. Wise elders can be inspired by the passions of youth, as they model, teach, and mentor younger generations.

I believe we should banish the word retirement, which means “withdrawal.” It has no passion or life in it. Everything you do matters. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “…to know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”


Questions to ponder:

* Where do you find passion in your life, or do you find yourself saying, “I’m not passionate about anything”?

*  What unfulfilled dreams are sitting in your dark closet?

*  What would it feel like if you could live with more joy and passion?

I invite you to share your share your thoughts