Soulfully Enlightened

If you could change one thing in your life...what would it be?

Still I rise

After watching the below video, I was inspired to write this blog.

 

What a powerful woman Maya Angelou is. She can move mountains. She may have left her physical body and is no longer on this earth, but she's alive, you can count on that.

I've read this poem a thousand times in my lifetime. For some reason five days ago, hearing it spoken with such eloquence, Still I Rise hit my heart so powerfully that I couldn't get it out of my mind. I realized I took Maya's words and related them to my life in such a way that five days later, it changed me. 

So often times we are so hard on ourselves every minute of everyday. Am I athletic enough? Do I make enough money? Am I taking good enough care of my parents? Do I visit them enough? Am I being a good parent? Spouse? Do I look good? Am I the right weight? Height? Is my hair okay? Do my nails look alright? Is the house clean enough? Are the pets happy? Are my grades going to get me into a good school? Do I meditate or pray enough?

That doesn't even brush the surface.

Small victories are powerful. What about these: My child looked at me and said, "You're so beautiful." My boss complimented me on a job well done. I worked out three times this week. We scheduled date night this Friday. I said no to chocolate cake. My baby said, "Mama." I felt like a rockstar today at work for completing a project. I got an A on my test. I'm rocking this new haircut. I spoke my truth. 

Maya is saying in this poem that even when she should have been in the depths of despair, she wasn't, she rose up. Maya fought for herself and millions of others that needed her. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcome X. Maya knew she had the same rights as everyone else did. She was fighting against all odds, she was a woman, and black. That didn't stop her because she had a job to do, and that was to let everyone know that no one on earth was going to get her down. She was going to rise up regardless of what anyone did to her.

Often times I think we lose the fight. Why? We forget what we're fighting for. Life begins to move at such a fast pace we lose focus. Society tells us we need to have it all. More, more, more, more. We spin our wheels, for what? More what? We aren't able to do what's most important; grounding, clearing our minds, connecting with the Universe (God), and asking for guidance.

After we've connected with the Universe our world opens up. We realize what it is we need to fight for. One at a time we right down our goals. One-by-one our goals are being met. With a sense of empowerment we begin to realize that not only did we find the strength to help ourselves, we can now move forward to helping others.

And that my friends, is how we move mountains. One rock at a time. Strategically placing each stone until we've made the most beautiful creation in the entire world. When that mountain is done, we must move to another. Again and again and again. 

Thank you Maya Angelou for your inspiring words and for igniting my fight.

Sarah

 

  

 

 

Being One with Nature

The most beautiful cardinal flew down to say hi in front of the window at the lake house of my friends home.

"Hey," Stacy said, "look at that.  It's a cardinal."

I looked up from my computer, "Oh my gosh." Popping my head up. "Look at him."

In that very minute, if Stacy wouldn't have said anything, I would have missed my favorite bird.  

I've always had this weird way with animals and nature. My love for all animals runs deep. Wild and domestic animals seem to be attracted to me.

I've always been skeptical of the woods. That sounds strange since I just said that I have a weird way with nature, by weird I mean a love/hate relationship.

This is what I mean by love/hate: I can step into the woods and feel calm or danger. Maybe it's the fear of the unknown, maybe it's something else, I don't know. It's a fear and that's all I know. I can return to the same place on a different day and feel totally calm and at peace. I've been that way as long as I can remember.  

*****

It was the summer of 2014. Brent (my husband) and I met his buddy, Chuck, in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas at my parents home for a golf outing.

On this one particular evening the sky was crystal clear, the stars were so bright they lit up the sky in every direction. The stars were indescribable. Every constellation I knew was out on this glorious night. The moon was just a sliver in the distance.  

Mom and I decided to check out the stars on the fairway just 25 yards from their back porch. We gathered a couple flashlights, blankets, a bottle of wine, a couple glasses, and Dewey, the huge goldendoodle.

"Remember we're having a meteor shower tonight," mom called out. I was getting Dewey ready for our adventure on the back porch.

Dewey's head perked up as he looked into the woods next to right side of my parents house. "What's going on, Dew?  What do you see out there?"

Dewey looked up at me, his eyes saying it all.

We were distracted by mom coming out on the porch. "Ready guys?" She ask, grabbing Dewey as we headed out to the fairway. Our hands were full with everything we were taking with us. 

"Look, Sarah, there's the Big Dipper.  Do you see the Little Dipper?" 

"Yeah, sure," I replied, in an uneasy voice. We got to the fairway, 25 yards from my parents property line. Suddenly I heard a growl, a deep, angry, threatening sound.

"Mom, did you hear that?"

"Hear what?  Oh, Sarah," Mom said, with a laugh in her voice, "you're such a scaredy cat. Be brave."

"Ok." Surely I was hearing something. There is no way something was growling at us.

Not even 5 seconds later I heard the growl again, this time with more intensity. "MOM, did you hear that!"

"I heard it, lets go!"

Brent and Chuck installed a trail camera on a tree pointing to the fairway earlier in the day, although it didn't catch what was growling, it caught Dewey looking behind us wide eyed.

*****

Growing up, as a family we'd go on Native American retreats. We would have interactions with Shamans and Medicine Men and ever since I've been captivated by the experience I had as a child.

A Shaman is a tribal healer who can act as a in between to the visible world and the spirit world. I can remember watching their dancing and rituals and amazed that they were healing people.  

In my memories we were walking up to a dance in an open field.  All I remember is it took us quite some time to get to the final destination. The spectators had Native American clothing and beaded jewelry, but us. I felt we stuck out like a sore thumb.I was starring at the Shaman, while he was dancing, he looked directly at me.  He starred at me for quite some time. The drumming and dance they were doing put me into a state of trance. Ever since this time I have been fascinated by Native American Shamanism.

One thing I learned from the Native American teachings is to look for signs through animals. I've been doing that for as long as I can remember. I may ask a question while I'm driving, if I see a hawk soaring or any type of animal, that answer may come to me. If I see nothing, that could be the answer too. It's been working for me since I was a child, as long as I'm connected to the spiritual world.

I've been practicing meditation for years now. Recently I meditated and asked the Universe to send me what I needed to see. There were quite a few scenes until I reached the final picture. A large lion lying down, perfectly calm, looking straight at me. I stood there for a moment looking at the beautiful creature, then I came out of the meditation.

My heart was beating a million miles a minute. 

In the realm of spirit animals, the lion is the most relentless fighter in the face of life challenges. The lion spirit animal represents courage and strength in overcoming difficulties. The presence of this power animal could also mean that something “wild” or difficult to control is happening. 

How is the lion relevant in my life right now? The last 7.5 years haven't been the easiest dealing with my mental status, being diagnosed bipolar. I almost let it ruin me.  The lion must be representing courage and strength to get over that time and move forward. This awakening is "wild". I'm being reassured I'm on the right path. I'm not alone. The Universe is with me.

In that instant I felt comforted. 

Granny Goodson

Up in the clouds.  She’s not coming down.

She’s high as a kite. She’s taken flight.

Out of nowhere, she’s thinking fast and shaking, talking crazy.

Hope is fading, slowly sinking, dissipating.

 

Hold on princess, look up to the sky.

I’m right here with you, dry your crying eyes.

Life will be amazing, just you wait and see.

Your army is standing strong behind you, just turn around.

Hold on princess, just look up to the sky.

Just look up to the sky.

 

Down so low, so low, so low, she went. 

The depths of her soul taken.

Swept away from fear and loathing.

Scared of failure, loss, and panic, and worry took over.

She started talkin, “What should I do? I’m not even worth it.”

 

Hold on princess, look up to the sky.

I’m right here with you, dry your crying eyes.

Life will be amazing, just you wait and see.

Your army is standing strong behind you, just turn around.

Hold on princess, just look up to the sky.

Just look up to the sky.

 

One day she had it. 

Enough was enough.

She stopped and listened.

Her angel was calling

She could feel her.
She could hear her.

She wasn’t afraid of the sights and sounds and the noise her angel was making.

Was it the crazies, was it the disease?

 

My dear princess, look up to the sky.

I’m right here with you, dry your crying eyes.

Life will be amazing, just you wait and see.

Your army is standing strong behind you, just turn around.

My dear princess, just look up to the sky.

Just look up to the sky.

 

She kept on praying, it brought her closer, to where she belonged.

Where she felt comfort, where she felt strong.

She no longer feared what there was to come.

It was clear what she had to do.

Spread love and hope to those who have none.

 

Oh beautiful princess, I’m here to stay.

I will help with your mission, and help you to pray.

For those that need you, when life has gone astray.

Oh beautiful princess, may you always have peace with who you are now.

Your love will move mountains.

That’s just who you are.

Oh beautiful princess, I’ve got one thing left to say, always remember I’m right here to stay, forever and always, never be afraid.

 

Oh I’m so proud of you

Oh

You’ve found the way

OH

You’ve found the light

Oh

You’ve found the truth

Oh

You’ve found you

Oh

 

 

 

Mary

I walked up to my gate at the Atlanta airport and took out my Kindle.  When I glanced up from my reading, I saw a little old lady sitting in her wheelchair. She was alone and looked a bit nervous. She was rubbing her hands together like both of my grandmothers use to do when something wasn’t quite right.

 There weren’t many people at the gate yet so I decided to move closer to her. Maybe she had to use to the restroom? It was lunchtime, was she hungry? Thirsty?

 “Hi, I’m Sarah,” I said, leaning over my chair to talk to her.  “I saw you sitting here and thought I would seeif you needed anything.”

 “Excuse me?” She pointed to her ears as if to say she had issues with her hearing.

 I got up from my seat and kneeled down close to her face.

“My name is Sarah and I just wanted to make sure you’re ok. If you need anything, I can help you.”

 “Thank you, my name is Mary. I’m fine for now," she said, looking down at her hands.  She looked up at me slowly, "Can you make any sense of that sign up there? I don’t think I’m at the right gate. That man over there has me confused. I’m going to Panama City and I can’t miss my flight. My son will worry." Mary frantically started looking in her bag.  "I can’t find my phone to call him.”

 “Mary, I’m going to Panama City too," I said in a reassuring voice. "I will make sure you don’t miss your plane. We still have an hour and a half before we start loading. That sign says we are on time and this is our gate." I looked down at her bag. "We need to find your phone. Have you used it in this airport?” I asked.

 “I don’t really remember. Everyone was rushing me,” Mary said, as she wiped a tear from her eye.

 I wanted to bend down, give her a hug, and tell her it would be okay. I opted to grab her hand instead.

 “You’re okay now. I’m going to stay with you and make sure you’re on the plane. Now, let’s find your phone.”

 I moved her towards me so we were face-to-face. I slowly pulled her belongings out of her bag and put them on her lap. A jacket, a notebook with a pen, a written note from her son about her itinerary, her wallet, a small photo album, a letter that looked very old.

 “This here is a love letter from my husband. I treasure it. I’m so very broken hearted.” Mary starred at the letter and then brought it up to her chest. “He died three years ago. He was my very best friend until the very end. We were married 75 years.”

 What do you say to those words? I just paused a minute and looked at Mary. Her facial expression was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Something between devastation, feeling lost, but grateful for all of the years.

 “I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Wow, 75 years?" I asked.  Had I ever known anyone who had been married that long?  "I had an old family friend that I wrote to that was married in the upper 60’s. That’s the longest I’ve ever heard of. Wait, how old were you when you married?” I asked, perplexed.

“I was just 16. We were so in love,” Mary said, with a smile.

I got down to the bottom of the bag and found her phone.

“Are you sure you don’t want anything? I need to go to the restroom real quick. Do you need to go?” I asked.

 “I’m fine, honey,” Mary replied.

 When I came back, Mary was sitting there all alone and nervously rubbing her hands together again.

 “Oh there you are. Can you make sense of what is happening?” Mary asked, anxiously. “That gentleman said something and everyone left, so did he.”

 “They moved our gate. Lets get going now. We still have a half hour before we board.”

 We got to the gate with time to spare. I checked Mary in and we had plenty of time to talk.

 “My husband was in the military and all three of my sons followed after their daddy. They are all retired now,” Mary said, with pride. “My husband stood right up next to Eisenhower every time he went out in public. Eisenhower trusted my husband with his life.  We lived in Paris and parts of Germany. I was always so proud of him, and I am to this day.”

 “So it looks like you’re married,” Mary said, while grabbing my left hand.  “How long has it been?”

 “Brent and I have been married for 7 years but together for 13. I can't speak for him, but he's my best friend." I thought a minute about our relationship. "I thank my lucky stars that we found each other.  I would be broken and broken hearted without him."

 Mary looked at me with a straight face. "There is a difference between broken and broken hearted.  My heart is broken because I lost my husband, the love of my life.  A broken heart will mend." Mary was still looking straight at me.  She grabbed my hand. "When you are broken, your life stops.  You can't go on living.  My husband wouldn't want that for me, and neither would yours."

 "Is that why you travel?" I asked.

 "There were a few reasons I wanted to travel. Initially, it was to get my mind off my husband." Mary paused to think for a moment. "I would sit in my condo day after day and do nothing but cry.  I didn't want to live the rest of my years like that."

 "I suppose not," I said.

 "I wanted to prove to myself I could travel on my own, alone, without my husband.  I did it, I visited my sister for two weeks," Mary said, sounding proud of herself. "Then I decided to take some trips to places I've always wanted to go.  Last year I went to Alaska."

 "By yourself?" I asked, in amazement.

 "Why yes, by myself." Mary looked at me like she thought I was crazy for asking. "My boys weren't too happy, but I told them that's what I was doing and that was that."

 "Wow.  How wonderful.  I'm so glad we met, you've made my day." My eyes teared up a bit.

 "Thank you for your kindness.  Can I pay you?  Or buy you a Coke?" Mary asked.

 "Oh no, but I do need a new pen pal," I said.

 "Let me give you my address.  And I'll give you my phone number too.  When you're in town next, you can stop by." Mary reached in her bag to find a pen.

 "Ok, expect to hear from me very soon," I said, as she was wheeled down the terminal to get ready to get on the plane.

 

*****

 

On the plane I thought about how Mary must feel about losing the love of her life after 75 years. Then I started doing the math. She was 16 years old when she married, married for 75 years, and that was 3 years ago.

Mary is 94 years old.

I thought, what an amazing life she has led. To be married to her best friend for 75 years. To have traveled the world and seen so many places. To watch her sons grow up just like their father did, with the same accomplishments. To be brave enough to travel at the age of 94. To have her loving son waiting at the airport to take her home, and to check on her daily.

I never miss a chance to talk with the older generation. The amount of knowledge they have is unbelievable. The lessons they teach, the stories they have, the wisdom they possess—I never miss one word.  It's all so intriguing to me.

The lesson on this day was: Don't stop living.  There may be hurdles in the road, a broken heart, a stumble, a crossroad, but you can't let yourself break.  We decide how our future ends.  We must make the most out of every second of everyday.

 Thank you, Mary, for teaching me that above anything else, life must go on.

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