Paradise is Sharing...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Unplanning my plans

"Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck." -Dalai Lama

"I have a wedding New Years Eve"...

I stopped what I was doing long enough to look up, see the pensive look on MyHoney's face as he broke the news to me, and I said "That's ok..."

It was as okay as when the credit card machine at the grocery store asks you "Is this amount OK?" and you press the green button in agreement.  No, it's not "OK"... it's just the way it is.  My groceries are overpriced, and MyHoney has to work New Years Eve... that's the price I pay for being in love with a DJ.  It's OK.

Disappointment lingered on for a few days.  Soon, I forgot about the plans I originally had in my head - sweeping the dance floor in MyHoney's arms, and being kissed at midnight, and swiftly began making other plans - perhaps a "Single Girls NYE"  - complete with expensive chocolate, cheap wine, and chick flicks like "Sex and the City II" and "When Harry Met Sally"... soon, I was so caught up in my make-shift New Years Eve Party of One, that I didn't even remember that I had been disappointed in the first place.

But MyHoney remembered.  He hates it when I am disappointed, and he, probably more than me, is sensitive to when his crazy ass schedule gets in the way of our relationship.  So, last week, as we were walking the dogs, he grabbed my hand, and said "I am taking Sunday the first off... we should spend the night in Boston"....

MyHoney is not a planner, but he always ends up where he wants to be.  Like he says "if I am lost, as long as I am lost in the right direction, I will be fine"..   Being a Leo, and I a Virgo, his laid back "it will get done in its own good time" attitude sometimes ruffles me.... so when he sent me an email this afternoon with our reservation confirmation for the train and hotel stay in the city, I forgot all about my midnight New Years Kiss, and started day dreaming about shopping at Faneuil Hall, walking the Freedom Trail, or perhaps even ice skating at the Frog Pond... What a wonderful stroke of luck.  This is far better than anything I could have planned.

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."  ~Lao Tzu

The experience has me thinking about letting go... letting go of my preconceived outcomes, and accepting the outcomes that the Universe has for me.  Sometimes I fight so hard - hanging on with every thread and fiber of my being to something I think I want as an end result... just to find out when I let go.. when I surrender... the end result that I couldn't even imagine is far better than anything I had originally conceived.  It's like being on a highway, going full speed, 90 miles an hour - and you miss exits and bypasses that would have taken you on a much grander adventure. 

So today, looking forward to 2012 and what it might bring, I am thinking about my preconceived notions and any "planned" end results that I may have in mind... but I am also going to imagine myself seeing turns in the road, by passes, exits, carry roads and bridges... paths that are unplanned... trails that are unexpected - but those are part of the journey too. What if in my planning - I unplan?  What if when I am visualizing my goals, I actually visualize being de-railed.... what if like a Chutes and Ladders game, I visualize myself going down the twists and turns, up up up the ladders, and wheeeeeeeeeeeeee! Down the slide!

This is a new concept to me... I have to admit... even as a coach, I would visualize a goal, and lazer in on it.  I would pick and choose the straightest, fastest, most efficient way to get to the end result desired.  What if my planning planned on the unplanned?  This thought of making a wider path to my goals has me intrigued and curious. 

I'm going to do a little unplanning with my planning today.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I am a Powerful Energy Source...

This morning, the fog lifted.  No.. there was no actual astronomical fog... it was the fog in my mind that has been there for months.  For some reason, this morning seemed different.  Instead of hitting my snooze button on the alarm clock a million times, I woke up, snapped on the Christmas tree lights and brewed a pot of coffee... the sky was still dark, the apartment a little chilly.  My intention was to meditate, or write, or both.. and I marveled that I was even able to come up with a clear intention so early in the morning.  I watched the sun light up the sky, and remembered my personal mantra as I sipped my coffee.  "I am a powerful energy source that radiates love and light to all that surrounds me"

I am a powerful energy source.  I am a powerful energy source.  I turned my gaze to the gentle twinkling of my Christmas tree lights, and thought about my mantra for a moment.  Powerful.  Energy source.  Just like the sun...

Upon second glance out my porch door, the sun now was melting away the darkness, and slowly, the world started to glow.  The snow turned from a crystal white to a soft shade of pink.  The trees looked like they were on fire.  The pink was so intensely illuminated, a shade that is familiar but indescribable.  Yes, for a moment, my breath was taken away and I was amazed at the glory of the morning.  This morning feels different.  There is a shift happening...

When I first thought up my mantra "I am a powerful energy source that radiates love and light to all that surrounds me"... I pictured in my mind a bright ball of fire - hot, intense, burning.  I pictured myself lighting up the world because I was ON FIRE.  And at the time, that felt very right.  I was stoked because I had just completed my coaching curriculum.  I was fueled because I was starting a new business.   I was burning because I was meeting new people and making new connections.

What I never expected was to lose that fire.  The business didn't build as quickly as I intended.  Clients weren't pounding down my door.  Connections and leads dried up.  I lost my spark and the intensity began to fade.  I lost some confidence when I took a hiatus from my business building because of illness and personal hardships.  I began to doubt myself and my abilities.

I thought my fire went out.

Until this morning.  Until I watched the sun rise.  I watched the darkness melt away, the grays turned into hues of yellow, red, and pink.  I watched the sun slowly edge out of slumber.... it gently kissed each hill and valley.... each shadow eventually slinked away.  The snowy Earth welcomed the sun by sparkling in brilliance like diamonds. 

My fire didn't go out... I am a powerful energy source.. like the sun, and I was simply waiting for the dawn of a new day.  Today is my new day.

Time to light up the world.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's a Family Tradition....

Every year the Hansen family gathers and goes out on the hunt... the hunt for a farm fresh cut Christmas tree.

Explaining this to MyHoney, who is originally from "the city" was a delight in itself.  His family either used an artificial tree, or went to the local hardware store and bought one pre-cut.  But not our family... no... not us.  The only way to understand it, is to experience it... and to be part of this family, you need to partake.. laugh, and enjoy the day for what it is.. a family tradition.

 We all then descend on to the farm... then the chaotic scurry of hellos, greetings, and "where are we going?s" commence.  I had to laugh out loud when I asked my Dad where we were going for this years tree... and he answered "POW-NAL Buddy!"  Ummm.. ok... "Buddy"  ;-)

Then there is the tradition of the caravan.  We all follow each other to the tree farm.  Now, mind you, we were all born and raised in this town.  We all know where we are going.  There isn't a back road we aren't familiar with... but we all have to FOLLOW each OTHER to the tree farm.  In trucks.  Big trucks. (well, my Subaru THINKS she is a big truck..shhh.... don't tell her otherwise)

Once at the tree farm, the next tradition comes into play... looking at every single tree.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of trees.. and we look at every single one... sometimes twice.  Now, you would think after all that looking, we would walk out of there with a tree fit for Rockerfeller Center... Nope.. not so.  Mom wants a tall "skinny tree"... Dad wants one that will fit in the tree stand, and we just want to get on with our lives, get family photos and eat lunch.

And, while the tree farm does provide saws, my Dad is very insistent that we always cut down our tree with an axe.  And, if there are any boughs left on the stump, we need to cut those and take them too because Mom will make swags with them later.

Oh, and pictures... did I mention taking pictures?  I feel like Paris Hilton getting my tree with the paparazzi clicking photos left and right.  Let's just say, after walking two acres looking for the "perfect - imperfect trees" I don't really look like I just stepped onto a cat-walk... ah well.   

Two, maybe three hours later, we all emerge from the woods, lugging trees two by two, and all $40 less rich then when we came.  Then the caravan leads us back to the farm where we eat a big hearty lunch, eat Moms carrot cake, and watch the turkeys parade across the field on their way to raid what few apples are left on the apple trees.  (and yes, I cheated, this pictures are from a few weeks ago when we actually had snow)

Once fattened up on Moms carrot cake, and sleepy from the big lunch, we all head off to our perspective homes to our own traditions of decorating our trees.

Over the years, some family traditions have been changed as we grew older.  Some family traditions that I started for my own "family" look drastically different today... but the important part of the holiday remains in tact, that we all are together.

After getting my little blue spruce today, MyHoney and I went back to his place and set up a manager scene that had been in his family for years.  His traditions have changed drastically too as his family has changed.  His sisters live in California, his father passed away, and now it's just him, his mom, and Derby... and now Lexi and me.  It was an honor to help him carefully unpack each wise man, set up the little lambs, the Virgin Mary and Joseph.  (The baby Jesus will be added later, but first needs to under go a little minor super glue surgery...) 

Tomorrow night MyHoney and Derby will join Lexi and I as we decorate my little tree with all the precious ornaments I have collected through the years.. each one tells a story of a Christmas past... each one, a family tradition.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


What a difference a day makes... this morning, I felt my joy rise with the sun.  It was going to be a good day...

Tomorrow I will take Lexi to get our first tree.  I didn't get one the year after Destiny passed away because MyHoney and I went to California for his sisters wedding.  Last year, I simply couldn't afford one.  This year... ah... this year I will have my tree.

The ornaments... the lovely ornaments... each one with a story, each one with a lovely memory of a Christmas past.  I feel blessed to finally be in a good space.  Blessings of tidings and joy.  Life is good.

Grief... Interrupted....

My sweet girl Destiny.  This week I finally fulfilled my last earthly obligation to you... the financial matters of your medical bills.  It took every resource I had left, and many sleepless nights, but this past Monday I sent via priority mail payment in full.  "Destiny's Credit Card" is finally laid to rest.

And I have wept every day since as if it is the day I lost you.

Most people would be elated to pay off a bill.  It would be such a relief to have the burden and the anxiety finally lifted off their shoulders.  Celebration would be in order.  For me, it's left a new sense of loss that is as fresh as the day I said goodbye.  You see, my friend... I no longer have to take care of you.  You ran free on January 16th, 2009.  I finally got set free this week... and its an odd feeling that I just don't know what to do with.  No more fretting... no more worrying... the treatments we started back in the spring of 2008 are finally ... finally finished.  I am no longer responsible - for you.

In a way, I am grateful that I had the distraction of financial upset right after losing you.   Losing my job four days after saying goodbye to you wasn't easy... but it gave me something to focus on.  All my energy went into staying afloat - I had to press on.  Now that urgency is gone, and my mind seems to want to time travel back and mourn you all over again.  My grief was interrupted...

So, sweet girl, while my earthly obligation is done, rest assured I still haven't forgotten my promise to you of living out our adventures.  Now that all the fretting and worrying has been laid to rest, I want to focus on new projects.  My vision is to pay this experience forward, help other Dog-mas who are in need, who face either saying goodbye to their loyal companions or costly medical bills and are forced to choose.  I don't know what steps I need to take to get there, but I know you will be guiding me on the trail.

Run Free...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Become a Lake....

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. "How does it taste?" the master asked.

"Bitter" spit the apprentice.
The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, "Now drink from the lake."

As the water dripped down the young man's chin, the master asked, "How does it taste?" "Fresh," remarked the apprentice. "Do you taste the salt?" asked the master. "No," said the young man.

At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering, "The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in.

So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things .... stop being a glass. Become a lake.

--Mark Nepo (a Hindu parable)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sleep Walking,..

I have two offices - one in South Portland, one in Gorham. Last Tuesday, I had a meeting at my office in South Portland at 9:30. I got out of bed at 6am, made some coffee and fumbled around to get ready.

I let Lexi out, let her back in, fed her breakfast and took a shower. I dug around in my closet for something to wear and kept glancing at the clock. Gotta go... gotta go.... gotta go....

Once in my car, I ran through my day in my head... how my meeting would go, what I had to do after my meeting... what I had to do before I got home... I ran a grocery list through my head, and suddenly, it happened. I woke up... right as I was going around the rotary and my car aimed down 237, I realized I am not where I needed to be. I literally said out loud to myself "Oh my God, where am I going?!".... I realized I was on the wrong road, heading the wrong direction. I was on autopilot... driving to my office in Gorham, NOT to my office in South Portland. SHIT - I am going to be LATE!

I was sleepwalking.

Not literally, of course.... but I certainly wasn't awake either. So many moments I suddenly get hurled into the present moment, and almost like waking up from a deep slumber, I get jarred into reality. Huh? Huh? Wha....???

I've been working with a client, and she is currently reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. I consider myself well read in his teachings... not an expert (obviously not in practice) ... but well read. Two weeks ago, we discussed how she could bring herself back to the present moment while she was at work. She has an incredibly demanding job - she finds herself not eating lunch, not taking breaks, and at the end of the day, wondering where her time went. Her solution was to focus on having a pen in her hand. (she loves to write)..... brilliant. She also said she would say to herself a mantra. When I asked her what that was, she said "I will not rush through my life".... I challenged her to reframe her mantra to the positive... (because what we focus on expands - and by using the word "rush", that is what her mind would focus on) and she said "I am calm, I am at peace, I am in the moment"... brilliant again.

She spent the next week practicing her new habit, and last week she reported back to me "I've never felt so much JOY as when I realized I was in the present moment, slowing down, and taking a moment to breathe".... She experienced JOY. Wow.

As I cursed at myself, and then cursed Ru (my Subaru) for having a mind of her own and a bad sense of direction, drove a little faster, and checked my clock to see how late I was going to be, I remembered Susan telling me about the joy she felt....and I said to myself "I am calm, I am at peace, I am in the moment"... and decided to enjoy the ride. I may not be on the road I intended, but I might as well enjoy the journey.

Fog was lifting off the fields, and the sun turned the fog a misty pink. I slowed down and watched some cows graze in the field as I drove down Stroudwater street. I waved to a jogger as I drove down Spring Street. I laughed at the entertaining antics of two squirrels chasing each other around and around the trees at my office park. I felt the warm sun on my back as I walked from my car, and drew in deep lungfuls of clean, crisp, late autumn air.

Had I not woken up on my car ride, I would have missed the beauty of the morning. The cows would have still been grazing, the jogger jogging, the squirrels would have still been nuts.... but I would have kept right on sleeping.

It's time to wake up.... there is joy in my life, and I'm sleeping through it.