Monday, September 12, 2011

9 Things That Help Me Get By

Carolina Jessamine on the patio
 brings me down to earth

Some months back I received an email from a woman about my age, living in Los Angeles. It was a thoughtful, heart-warmingly personal and truly compelling letter about her life in LA and how she often struggled to feel a sense of fulfillment in her daily life. "How do you stay connected?" She asked. How do we maintain a sense of connectedness, belonging, contentment, happiness and faith in an unseen world, whatever we believe that world to be?

I responded with the only truth I could, of course, and that email has been much on my mind since losing my close friend Matt to suicide in August. 

Because the truth is, it's hard to stay connected. Very hard. Trying to stay plugged in is no easier than dieting, incorporating a new fitness regimen, going off coffee or making any other lifestyle change. There are good days and bad days for all of us, no matter what we're trying to do. I can't say... perhaps being spiritually aware comes naturally to some people, but for me, staying grounded and trying to maintain a sense of peace and contentment in my daily life is something that takes work. There are things that happen that can shake you to your core, make you question your beliefs. There are often other things that we'd like to be doing than, say, meditating, like checking our email, rushing off to work, or going grocery shopping. 

So here are a few of the things, nine things, to be exact, in no particular order, that I turn to when I'm feeling stuck, sad, and disconnected. I've found these small things can have a transformative effect on my day; and moreover, they help keep me much more open and aware of the world around me. 

1. I Do Something that Scares Me. Fear can mean a lot of things to different people. And fear has a lot of different masks it can wear, but when we tug at the source of our fears, we often find their roots are the source of a lot of our discontentments in life. Whether it be going solo to a social event where I might not know a single soul, or signing up for a sky diving lesson, when I face a fear, I always grow. I learn to trust in myself as well as in the world around me in new and profound ways that carry with me into tomorrow.
Lucy, Co-Nature Investigator
and walking buddy

2. I Treat Myself. A lovely bottle of wine, a special box of organic tea, a new candle, a bath, a gym workout, you name it. Any of these small things, when framed as an indulgence, just for me, make me feel like I'm taking care of myself. And when I take care of myself, I'm a much better friend, wife, sister, daughter, and canine/feline mom.

3. I Start a New Hobby. Paint, write, learn the guitar, take up meditation, yoga – the possibilities are endless. But I've found that expressing my interest in something allows new creativity to flow, and the more creative we all get, the more interesting, innovative, and dynamic our collective reality becomes.

My ankle tattoo was
a (painful) meaningful offering
of gratitude for my 
experiences in Faery Tale

4. I Make an Offering. I'll sprinkle rose petals around my yard to give thanks to nature and the world that sustains me, I'll light some incense, or do something thoughtful for a friend. Recently, I signed up for a 70-mile Spin Marathon (co-file under Do Something that Scares Me) for charity. Giving and saying thank you helps me expand my heart and teaches me how to be a better person. 
5. I Make Eye Contact with Those Around Me…And smile. It doesn't just transform the energy of my day; hopefully it transforms the energy of someone else's too.

6. I Take a Walk. Just to notice things: me breathing, the sunset, the dog's nails clipping along on the pavement. Artist Brian Froud believes there is spirit in everything. When I walk I strive to see it. 

7. I Cook Something. But I try to do it mindfully, with love. I put some music on, prepare my favorite beverage, and try to enjoy myself. I believe that being in a good space energetically when I'm preparing food literally “charges” the food with that positivity. It's a gorgeous alchemy. 
Heart shaped Cranberry Scones for Eric
upon my return from England this summer

8. I Buy a Plant, Visit my Herb Garden, or Feed the Birds. Caring and interacting with the natural world in my daily environment is one way I've found I can really stay connected to the earth and my relationship to it. Observing and caring for the other creatures that inhabit it is merely the icing on the cake. 

9. I Take a Journey. I'm a bit of a travel hound, and sometimes when I'm stuck I literally travel someplace else. But travel has taught me that enchantment and reconnection can be found everywhere when I know how to look for it. New restaurants, funky art galleries, an advertisement for a drum circle, poetry reading, if something catches my eye, I dare myself to do it. Enchantment and reconnection exists in our own backyards. It's learning how to see it that's the true journey. 
Sometimes the
beach is just the journey I need

I'd love to hear what you do to stay connected - it's always good to add a few new tools in the ol' spiritual arsenal.