... that's a line from Carole King's (rather obscure) song, "One". It was written in the 70's and to this day can only be found on vinyl. It's a glorious piece that I had the honor of singing with the NTCSL choir last year. So... in planning my new CD (which hasn't really been "planning", the way it has all evolved so organically), I kind of forgot we had access to the multi-tracks for the performance of that song! Listened last night and just got chills. So powerful. Eric said, "OK, so we HAVE to put this on the CD". So, voila... the 5-song collection has now become 6. :-) It fits in so perfectly with the others. And thinking about this further (I just made this connection last night), it's pretty cool that the two cover songs on the CD are from two amazing, piano-playing female artists from different generations... but with a strong connection to each other. Sara Bareilles has sometimes been referred to as the "Carole King of her times". My soul resonates with these women... these artists... and what an honor it is to sing their songs. Here's a clip of Carole King talking about this connection with Sara Bareilles:
I've been having so much fun working on this new CD... can't wait to share the music with you!!! Just a reminder, if you'd like to be part of the creative process, that it's not too late to contribute via GoFundMe and/or pre-order from my website home page. Getting so close to the goal to get this project wrapped up! Every bit helps... and I am so grateful! <3
Hello, friends! I just wanted to share a little video update live from "Wild Wish Presents" out here in Battle Ground, WA!
Here is the link to watch: https://youtu.be/4ystvV3nrVU
As I write this, we are 70% to the goal to get this product out there! THANK YOU to all who have contributed so far to bring this project to fruition! We do still have a little ways to go to cover costs, so if you haven't yet contributed and are inspired to, it's not too late to kick in and be part of the magic. This indie "heARTist" is so very grateful for the support... I could not to this without it! :-)
CLICK HERE to Contribute via GoFundMe
Most of the songs were captured during performances at New Thought Center for Spiritual Living in Lake Oswego, OR, where I have been singing (and growing!) for 10 years now. With David York at the helm, Rand Deahl covering sound, and incredibly talented and soulful musicians in the band, it is a place where magic is made. And when that magic happens to be captured brilliantly on multi-track... pure Divine Orchestration. :-) This 5-song CD consists of three new original songs, a specially arranged version of my song "Love will Provide" with the NTCSL choir, and a beautifully tender Sara Bareilles tune... all songs ripe for the times. I can't wait to share them with you! :-)
As I mentioned in my last blog, the songs are currently being mixed and polished by my brilliant partner and producer (thank you, Eric Montgomery!)... and then the collection needs to be mastered, replicated, and packaged for distribution for release this summer. Which is why I set up the GoFundMe... to help with those costs.
It is my absolute passion and mission to minister the power of LOVE through music. THANK YOU for sharing the journey with me!
Here is the link to contribute through GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/LauriJonesWatchLoveRise
AND/OR... If you'd like to pre-order the CD, please do so from my website home page.
Thanks again for all the love and support! Happy spring and almost SUMMER!
Love and Gratitude,
I'm pretty excited to announce that a brand new CD is in the works... one that has been evolving organically over the past few months. Inspiration hit big this past year and some powerful songs emerged. I didn't really set out to release something new so soon after my 2015 album, "Walk Your Life"... but so goes the artist's journey... the SOUL's journey. :-) This EP (a collection of about 5 songs at this point), is called "Watch Love Rise", built around the song that came through me like a thunderbolt last fall. For more specifics on that song and how it came about, please read my blog: http://www.laurijones.com/blog/watch-love-rise
The idea to release this collection of live recordings, rather than going back into the studio, was the completely magical way they all transpired. When you have the opportunity to bring a new song to incredibly talented musicians for a live performance... and then that performance happens to be captured brilliantly on multi-track... well, I call that divine intervention. :-) The energy, the execution, the emotion... everything lined up in such a beautiful, powerful way that felt much bigger than me. I can hear and FEEL the raw, authentic energy, heart, soul, and LOVE in all of the songs. And I know they need to be shared NOW... in these times.
The songs are currently being mixed and polished by my brilliant partner and producer (thank you, Eric Montgomery!)... but then the collection needs to be mastered, replicated, and packaged for distribution for release this summer. This is where I need a little help! :-)
I am beyond grateful for the resources available to me in the creative evolution of these songs so far... and am now taking a big breath and asking for financial assistance to bring this project to fruition. All funds received will go specifically to mastering, replication, and packaging of this CD.
It's my absolute passion and mission to minister the power of LOVE through my music and share it with you all. Contributions in any amount mean the world to me. And please spread the word!
Here is the link to contribute through GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/LauriJonesWatchLoveRise
AND/OR... If you'd like to pre-order the CD, please do so from my website home page.
As always, thank you so very much for your support! Happy spring to everyone... I myself am looking SO forward to SUMMER.... enough with the rain! ;-)
With Love & Gratitude,
Flashes of inspiration... nudges... "divine leads". Pretty incredible when you open yourself up to them. But I have to say, the rational mind can get a little wigged out with it all and try to tell you you're a little cray cray. Like when you hear Melissa Etheridge singing the song you just wrote. So clearly. In your head. But I digress... more on that later. ;-)
I want to talk a little about songwriting inspiration in particular. I'm not the kind of songwriter that cranks out a ton of songs. Or haven't been, anyway. I tend to wait until I feel something that really needs to be expressed. I have to be inspired. And then I try to get some clarity about it: what is it exactly that needs to be expressed and why? I sit with it. With the muse... with the Great Spirit... with whatever it is inside of me that is wanting to express. Like sitting with a dear friend... just being with them. Listening. Really listening. And allowing the "conversation" between us to unfold. Getting everything out there... raw at first... and then caressing and refining until "we" are singing together. That's how I know when it's become a real song. When I can't get it out of my head. I'm singing it and feeling it and can even hear the full orchestration in my head and being. I become one with the song and the spirit it came from. Pretty amazing, actually.
Anyway, it was a crisp fall day in October when my latest song made itself known. Eric and I were out for a country drive, close to where we live, and I can remember being in and out of conversation with him as thoughts and ideas kept creeping into my awareness. It was a few weeks prior to election day and the air (and cyberspace) was filled with a whole lot of ugliness. On all sides. I remember knowing that we indeed needed to stand up and make our voices heard louder than ever... but what I was seeing was a whole lot of fear and desperation in the attempts to do so. I was getting a distinct message that any steps toward real change or progress had to be taken in an energy of LOVE. Fiercely promoting all that love stands for in an energy of love. That was key. I remember talking to Eric on that drive... trying to put into words what was coming through me. "I want to say something about the importance of standing up and taking action... but doing so from a deep place of knowing truth rather than out of desperation. And most importantly, not to lose heart in the process." He just looked at me and said, "Well... just say that". Sometimes I think things have to be more clever or complicated. ;-)
When we got back home, Eric got out of the car, but I just sat there in the passenger seat. I told him to go ahead... that I'd be in shortly. But I sat there a good long while. Listening until I heard the words. Then I went inside and started writing. After a couple of days, a few rough drafts, singing into my phone, and plunking out chords... a song called "Watch Love Rise" was born.
It's not unusual or a big deal that I wrote a song. Songs happen. And yay for that! (they are always gifts) :-) But the way this particular one came through me, like a Spirit-driven thunderbolt at such a precarious time in our evolution as human beings (showing up politically), feels especially powerful to me. And bigger than me. Definitely bigger than politics. And what's interesting is that I wrote and completed the song before the election... with a very different outcome in mind. I thought I was writing about trusting that the right person would rise up and take office. I was as shocked and disheartened as anyone about how things turned out. This is when I truly realized the song and message were bigger than me. And even more relevant. It isn't about looking to any one political leader for real change. It's about looking to and having faith in our only real leader: LOVE. Anything other than love is just False Evidence Appearing Real, as they say. Yup. FEAR. We get to make a choice to watch love rise... to see through the disguise of fear. And we can BE LOVE so fiercely and radically that it has no other choice but to rise up and lead us... en masse.
I realize this might sound a bit Pollyanna... and I have no intention of hiding in a spiritual bubble... but I think it's important to lean into Spirit heavily, especially in times like these. And to take Spirit-driven action.
So... a bit more about the song and how the particular version/recording attached to this blog came to be. I had been scheduled to sing at New Thought Center for Spiritual Living in Lake Oswego, Oregon, the Sunday following election day. Funny thing is, I wasn't originally scheduled for that day... it was a "make up day" for an earlier Sunday I had to cancel. Anyway, the songs had been chosen in advance, but in light of all that had happened that week, I was inspired to pitch "Watch Love Rise" instead. Eric and I had created a piano/vocal live demo, so I shared it with David York, NTCSL's music director, and it struck the right chord. In a very short time, this very busy man scrambled to create a chart for the band and even write parts for back-up vocals. We all met on Sunday morning to rehearse before the services, and with just a couple of run-throughs, magic was made. I remain in awe of what each player and singer contributed individually and collectively to a song they had no awareness of until the morning we performed it (Or did they? Ahhh... that "one mind" thing). The song was performed and received so powerfully that morning. I will never forget the reciprocal energy in the room. And the beauty of it is that the performance was recorded (by Rand Deahl) in such a way that it could later be mixed and fine tuned (which Eric did).
I share all of this with you to illustrate the divinity involved. I have gotten strong nudges about this song from the moment it was conceived. I mentioned that I heard Melissa Etheridge singing it in my head. It's true. I woke up one morning (after I had written the song) and she was singing it, unmistakably, as if it was HER song. She owned it. And she rocked the heck out of it with all that passion and conviction she's known for. It felt SO real. Now, I like Melissa Etheridge, but it's not like I've followed her to any extent. I had to Google her to see what she's up to these days. My jaw dropped a little when I discovered her philosophies and spiritual beliefs aligned so completely with mine... and that she had even written a song called "Uprising of Love" just a few years ago. Whoa. So I'm not sure what it's all about, but I do feel like I need to share this song with her. I'm listening, Universe... keep the leads coming. :-)
We all have the potential for Divine Magic in our lives... and it's best when it's shared, for sure. I am called to share this song with as many people as I can. If you are so inspired, by all means, please share it as well! No matter what "side" we're on politically, I have hope that we can all agree on LOVE. Love doesn't take sides... it just IS. The only thing that holds us back from love is fear... and the illusion of control. Love is the only thing that can break down walls and melt the hardest of hearts. This is the message I am carrying with me into the new year and sending out to the world.
"Love is a mighty power, even in the darkest hour... and every disguise. Watch Love Rise.........."
Namaste, my friends. And Happy New Year!
Love is Christmas. Love is home... being at home with ourselves and with our nearest and dearest ones. Let this be a time to remember... to really focus on this. Especially with everything going on. Our country is facing a most precarious time... yes. And we are called to stand up and raise our hands and our voices "out there". Yes. AND. Let us hold dear that which is right in front of us here and now. Our loved ones... our sacred places. And that which can never be touched or taken away. The eternal living spirit buzzing inside of us... the gift that can never be shattered, tattered, or worn out. This is LOVE. Know it... feel it... share it... receive it. We need it more than ever. And love is what Christmas is all about. Period. Well, it's really all anything is about... but in this particular season, let's not get thrown off course by the bright, glittery, illusive shiny things nor the illusive darkness. Let's focus our minds and hearts on the only thing that is real: LOVE.
I'm sharing a song that I performed recently at a morning service. The perfect and beautiful "Love is Christmas" by Sara Bareilles. It all came together that morning like magic... and beautifully captured in this recording (thanks to Rand Deahl and Eric Montgomery). Well, it does help to have an incredible music team with some of the finest musicians around... :-) but I also believe there was some divine intervention going on... as there usually is. Merriest of Christmases to all. LOVE, LOVE and more LOVE!
Yesterday was the first official day of fall. I love fall. Always have and probably always will. I was also recently reminded that we just came out of a "mercury in retrograde" period. And also, that the Vedic winds have been sweeping and stirring and creating upheaval as we move into the new season. Oh how I love my metaphysical friends! ;-) I don't follow astrology all that much, but I know I'm very sensitive to energies. So when life as I know it starts to feel a little "off", unbalanced, or beyond its usual-ness, I have been known to ask around: "ummmm.... is something going on in the ethers I need to know about???" It's always sort of a relief to hear that there is... that I'm not crazy (necessarily... lol) and that what I need to do is give a little extra attention to grounding and centering rituals, be gentle with myself and others, and ride it all out in faith. It seems to take some pressure off and help ease the self-judgment, anyway!
So. Balance and harmony. Oh so important in life... right??? I realize this especially when I'm feeling otherwise. When things feel black and white. When there is discord. When agreement is hard to come by and everything seems to rub me the wrong way. Ugh. But there is value in having times like this... if for no other reason, to fully appreciate the times when there is a peaceful, natural, harmonious flow going on. It is our nature to seek balance and harmony. And, globally... right now especially... we are most definitely experiencing extremes in terms of beliefs and desires and ideas about what is right, wrong, good, and bad. I have to believe there is value to this. That we are heading into a new season of greater harmony. That things are coming to a head. That all the discord has had to get so unbearable that we are forced (for lack of a better word) to yield to some sort of balance for the greater good.
There was a Coke commercial back in the day with a jingle that keeps coming to mind: "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." I know, it's hokey. Not to mention, it touted Coke as "the real thing". But I digress. ;-) Let me just say, as a singer... there is something so powerful about voices blending together in beautiful accord. I don't even really have the words. There is a distinct feeling I get when my voice is nestled into glorious harmony with another's. It's like this warm buzz from "sliding into place" with another's being... with their heart and soul... their "realness"... their truth and the greater truth. No matter how different we may appear to be on the outside, in that moment we are harmonizing, I am only aware of connection. It's a pure place of agreement. Of resonance. I wish there was some way to get everyone to sing with each other like that. To find that sweet spot of blended notes. Idealistic, yes. But I know what that feels like... and I know that it can break down barriers. And I'm so grateful that I get to use my voice to connect with my own and others' souls in this way.
By the way, I love words and their origins. I looked up "harmony" online and Wikipedia gave me this: "The term harmony derives from the Greek harmonia, meaning 'joint, agreement, concord', from the verb harmozo, 'to fit together, to join'." Oh how I dream of this... real harmony... for our lives and our world. So, you think maybe instead of a presidential debate we could just get the producers of "Glee" to resurrect the show with a special episode that features the candidates harmonizing together? Documenting the process of finding and learning the right notes and creating some other worldly, transcendent masterpiece of harmonious splendor? Perhaps a version of John Lennon's "Imagine"? Ah, wouldn't that be something. Just... imagine.
So, as we head into this new season... the season of fall... may we all, individually and collectively, allow what no longer "works" or serves to fall away. And... may we sing our way through it! Sing in harmony with our essence and with each other... and feel the glorious vibration of that. Less talking and more singing, I say. Happy harmonious autumn, my friends!
So... I'm blogging. I don't know what's going to come out here, but here I am. Showing up. There's so much going on in the world right now that my blog topic ideas have been all over the place... and I just haven't been able to sit myself down and commit to one of them. So I will just start writing with all of them in mind and hope that some thru-line emerges. Bear with me... ;-)
So, hey... how are you? Have you been feeling at all like I have?... trying to focus on the simple, sacred, joyous day to day life experience best you can and still be tuned in to what's going on in the world?... trying to figure out what's yours to do with it all? Pretty intense stuff these past few weeks. I maintain that in spite of everything (especially what the media feeds us), there is more good than not. But I also know we've got to look at things. Not only look, but dig deep. I'm not even sure where to begin here.
I guess I'll just start with the biggie: "Black Lives Matter" and "White Privilege". All that has been uncovered in the past few weeks has been stirring in my mind... my heart... my being... in a way that is most definitely creating a shift. A lot of questions and tender thought. I myself acknowledge that I am of White Privilege. I get it. I accept it. And honestly... I'm struggling with the "shame" of it. It's tough. As it should be, I suppose. But I also know that shame is not going to help anything. I think my big question (because I seem to have more questions than answers these days and I think that's OK... to stand in the questions) is this: How do we truly enlighten and empower each other without shaming? Even on a subtle or subconcious level? Not only in race relations, but in politics, in religious/spiritual beliefs... how do we truly create change and recognize equality in terms of worth without shaming each other? I have seen many articles and posts on social media with good intentions and lots of information... but that feel like shame to me. I don't want sympathy for this... God no. Just looking for a way to break through the shame of "wrongs" and move toward empowered action. And it's just not that easy. It's just not.
I am grateful for having my eyes opened through all this. I see so clearly that I was raised with a lot of "sameness"... in my physical surroundings and in attitudes around me. There was supposedly safety and comfort in sameness. It was encouraged. It just was. Diversity was scary and to be avoided. And it's easy to just slip into sameness. To be drawn toward others that seem just like you. So, just knowing this, I have learned to look deeper. At the ways we are the same that don't look or feel the same on the outside. The key here is learned. Just as valuing sameness is a learned thing, so is honoring diversity. Learning to see right through to the one heart inside. To humanity. That there is a part of us all that really is the same inside... that we are all of the human race with the same basic needs.
So.... this brings me to the next biggie: politics. I really don't like politics, and I avoid posting political stuff on my social media pages, especially inflammatory bashing. But I do post political stuff that promotes higher wisdom (yes, it exists!). And I don't have to like politics in order to do my part: to educate myself, promote what I am for (rather than what I'm against), and vote. And here's where sameness comes in (see, there is a thru-line!). I really feel like we are being asked right now to stretch beyond our comfort zones. To look good and hard at each other and what binds us... not what divides us. And that it takes learning and practice. Actually, it's an un-learning, really... because we have no concept of differences and discrimination when we're born. But the point is, there is no shame in having been taught bias and discrimination and knowing we've got some work to do. It's about standing in the questions of what true equality looks like and what it takes to "get there" and being open to learning. But not out of shame. And not out of fear. And not even out of anger. They may be justified, but they are low-frequency vibrations that won't bring about the radical shift we need in the most truly beneficial way. We need to be empowered out of love, hope, compassion, and empathy. I will stand in the question of how best to do that by way of action. I will pray for guidance. And I will look toward leadership that helps us do this (and vote for leadership that helps us do this!). It's about interdependence (I really love that word). Being stronger together.
I have a lot of questions, yes. But here's what I know. And what I defend. Because I'm a light-worker, dammit. Lol. I can't help it. ;-) Looking to the light... focusing on and growing the positive is a choice. It's not the same as "head in the sand" or "head in the clouds" or whatever. It's not denial of problems, but it is a rejection of fear. A rejection of cynicism. (Thank you, President Obama for your powerful words around that at last night's convention). You find what you look for. And you grow what you focus on. We have to decide how we want to experience life... for ourselves and for the world live in... and promote the heck of that. To see what is good and right already. And then... look at where we still need to go. The possibilities for more good and what we can do to "get there". Together.
And. And. All of this going on... AND. It's summer! We're alive. We're breathing. I look out my window and I see trees and gardens... a dog... birds. There is music being made, love being shared, wine being sipped, and silly laughter. We can balance the depth and intensity of these times with simple joys. Paying attention to those moments that bring a smile. And really feeling them. Contrast is good for that reason... it forces us to seek balance. We can breathe through it all and find some respite in the gray areas. In the questions. In the process. In the awakening. In active surrender. In love.
As always, my friends... Namaste. :-)
I've been doing some pondering (what, me?) ;-) ... kind of about the whole spiritual concept that we are "whole, perfect, and complete" just as we are. This is the heart of spiritual principle and something we hear and say a lot. But do we really get what that means? And is it possible to sometimes misuse... or, dare I say... abuse this knowledge?
But first let me say that yes... yes, we absolutely are whole, perfect and complete. There is a spirit in us, an essence, that is pure, unconditional love... and unconditionally loving and lovable. One with God. One with the Universe. This is the deep down Truth that I believe and hold dear. My song lyrics reflect this: that "it's enough"... that all you need to do is "come back to your heart... to all that you are"... and that "love will provide". I believe all of these things. Yet, I kind of think there is a danger in how we interpret this. Yes, grace is essential in this thing we call "being human"... allowing grace for ourselves and others along life's journey. But maybe... just maybe... we sometimes use "I am perfect just the way I am" to justify certain things... and maybe we let ourselves off the hook a little too easily when we know we can be doing better. And by "doing better", I mean loving better. Loving our bodies better by taking better care of them. Loving each other better. Loving our planet better. Loving by taking loving action.
I have gotten to a place of real peace in my life. I feel "comfortable"... comfortable in my skin and comfortable in my surroundings. And this is good! But at the same time, I'm not sure we are meant to always be comfortable... that our ultimate goal is to necessarily make ourselves comfortable or to push away discomfort in the name of "being true to ourselves".
I've been trying to be a little more mindful lately about where I can stretch beyond my comfort zone... in both large and small ways. These past couple of weeks have presented some opportunities... seemingly uncomfortable situations that, instead of reacting out of habit, or just avoiding them, I chose to ask myself instead, "what is the most loving thing to do here?" Even small steps can make a difference, leading to bigger ones that not only affect our own lives, but the world we are a part of.
The first notable opportunity was a routine medical screening that I had been putting off (because it seemed so very... uncomfortable!). Instead of fighting and cursing it, I finally chose to see it as a gift. I decided to dive into it as an opportunity to love my body. The hardest part, it seemed, was the prep. I had to fast from solid foods... clear liquids only for 36 hours... which also included drinking a ton of a "not so pleasant" prescription cocktail. Ugh. Initially, this felt like torture to me, the girl who loves substantial meals and gets low blood sugar if she doesn't eat. But, choosing to see this screening as a gift (because it really was), I made the whole thing a mission of love. I became sort of a geek about it, stocking up on all of the quality, delicious, nutritious, energy-giving clear liquids I could think of and researching tips and tricks to make the whole process as positive as possible. I ended up breezing through it all, really... and I know it was because I focused on loving my body and on gratitude for a potentially life-saving procedure.
Shortly after that experience, I was presented with another opportunity to stretch. Eric is a regular blood donor with Red Cross. While I have always admired people for donating without a thought, I have to admit, I had let my squeamishness prevent me from giving blood. It made me feel weak just thinking about it. So I'd justified that it "just wasn't my thing". Well, Eric got a call reminding him he was scheduled to give blood that day (he had forgotten) and on a whim he asked me if I might want to join him... to give blood. My immediate reaction was "ummm... no... I don't think I can do that...", but I stopped myself and decided to at least fill out the donor screening questionnaire. As I was reading and answering the questions, I realized not everyone can give blood and that I was a perfect candidate. I suddenly "got" that I had an important gift to give that would far outweigh any potential discomfort. So, with my heart and mind focused on the loving thing to do, I jumped in the car and headed to the donor site with Eric. Again, I breezed through it. And, again, I know it was because of my focus on love.
I may still want to wimp out at times, but I am hereby committing myself to ask what the most loving thing to do is when I'm presented with something that doesn't initially feel comfortable. Challenging what's "usual"... or "well, this is just who I am". It's not about forcing myself to do something I don't want to do... it's about recognizing where I might just be caught in habitual reacting and maybe thinking too small. All I know is that when I stretch in the name of higher love and greater good, it always ends up feeling right. And so worth any discomfort. And... honestly... the actual doing usually ends up to be far less uncomfortable than the thinking about the doing anyway. ;-)
This week, in an attempt to "clean house", I went through old documents in an accordian file... various documents from the past decade or so... literally "shredding" my past. Wow. All kinds of feelings came up, some of them unexpected, as I revisited years gone by. In addition to a "mood journal" from 11 years ago (What a trip! More on that later...), there was rental information from a variety of living scenarios, health records, check stubs and past employment documents. I've been so happy and at peace lately... living freer than I ever have in so many ways... that I had almost forgotten some of the trials and tribulations along my journey that brought me to where I am now. Uncomfortable as it was pouring through some of that paperwork, it gave me an even greater appreciation for where I am today. The lyrics to my song, What Falls Away, have never felt so true: "the hurting, the crying... the stumbling and trying... all part of a greater good... what falls away, brings me closer to what I'm meant to be...". And, just to be clear, it's not that things just... ta da!... fall away like magic. It's more about becoming aware of the things that are no longer serving our real selves and allowing them to fall away. And that process often takes great courage and strength. Growth... as in real change... is not necessarily meant to be comfortable. :-)
So, sifting through the documents, I came upon one in particular that hit a nerve. It was an annual performance review from my days as a salesperson for a retailer whose name I won't mention here. :-) There were a few "needs improvement" comments that, quite honestly, made me a little ill... remembering how hurt and angry I was... and how I felt completely unvalued at the time. But any remnants of those old feelings quickly gave way to gratitude. And relief. All the places of "needs improvement" on that performance review were clearly things my soul just couldn't get on board with. What needed improvement was my job scenario... not me. There were just too many things about that job... and that company... that were out of alignment with my core values. When I fully realized that's what was going on, the Universe presented me with a new job. Thank. God. :-)
The thing about the whole "falling away" thing is that it doesn't happen overnight. And at the time you are going through stuff, the path is not always clear... and can sometimes feel like nothing is happening, when in fact, something is always happening. The value for me in looking back is really seeing that I really can trust myself... trust life... trust the Universe. There really is rhyme and reason. Or I choose to see it that way (though Eric and I sometimes wonder what our lives would have been like if we met each other sooner... but that's a whole other blog!). :-)
Now... about that "mood journal". :-) There was a period in my life when I was experiencing anxiety and depression on a pretty regular basis. So I decided to keep a journal of my moods to see if I could gain any insight as to what was going on underneath it all. What was revealed in the journal were themes of loneliness and disconnect. Some of it was situational, such as traveling a lot for my cruise ship job and living a sort of transient life... and some of it was overthinking and too much focus on my little "s" self. I tried anti-depressants briefly, but they didn't seem to make much difference, so I abandoned those. That's when I suspected it was more of a spiritual thing... that my spirit was trying to get my attention. And in that way, the anxiety/depression was truly a gift. But, oh man. Reading parts of that journal was almost exhausting... lol! But it gave me compassion for myself and my journey. I can't really say I've had major trauma in my life... on a scale some have had... but spiritual disconnect, especially for those who are spiritually sensitive, can make one feel literally ill. While I do believe medication can help people with chemical imbalances, it alone will not "cure" spiritual disconnect, which I happen to believe is the root cause of a lot of depression and anxiety. There's a longing to really feeI connected to the heart of life (call it God, Universe, Spirit, or whatever resonates), to our true Selves, and to each other. Having the awareness, tools, community, and relationships I have now has made all the difference... and reading that journal made me realize how dramatic the evolution has been.
So... "needs improvement"? I don't think so. :-) I'm all for stepping up and challenging ourselves in accordance with highest good, but I guess I just don't like the word "improve". To me, it implies "not good enough"... or simply "not enough". Instead, I rather like the idea of growing the best version of ourselves... and growing the best version of our lives and our world by honoring and respecting our true nature... love, peace, joy, harmony, prosperity, service... and letting the rest fall away. I know... easier said than done. Or undone. :-) But it's possible. I've experienced it in my own life. And that's a start.
Today... I pay tribute to Buddy. Buddy is a "country dog" who lives out here with us. Well, he belongs to Eric's parents, but freely roams the 40 or so acres on which we reside. He is a rescue dog who landed in Paradise. And he knows it. :-) (I guess I can sort of relate... lol). I've grown to love this quirky, big-hearted pup... and I've come to know his ways. He has unwittingly taught me some stuff, actually. That whole "DOG is GOD spelled backwards" thing? I'm pretty sure that isn't a coincidence. To me, a dog is one of the purest forms of unconditional love... a playful reflection of our own DOG-GOD nature. I love dogs. And I love Buddy.
So yeah, there are a lot of "what I have learned from my dog" lists out there, but every dog has his own unique personality... his own "thing". So here is my list. Ten things I have learned from this lovable Border Collie named Buddy:
1. Stop and smell the journey.
We have recently started taking Buddy for walks. On a leash. Out on the paved road. This is relatively new for this free-roaming dog... and he is really starting to get into it. "OH... this is what dogs are supposed to do! Cool!" ;-) He caught on quickly. So this has added a new dimension to our human and dog relationship. The "companion on the path" kind of thing. And we learn from each other in this. Buddy, like all dogs, needs to stop and sniff. We can be clipping along, when suddenly his schnoz grinds us to a halt. My inclination is to tug at his leash and urge him to keep trotting, but as Eric reminds me, dogs need to stop and sniff. It's part of their enjoyment in being "out there". So, yeah... it's OK to want to get to where you are going, but don't miss out on all the juicy little things along the way. And don't just notice them, but get your nose right in there and breathe them in fully! Let the little things fill you completely! Thanks, Buddy. :-)
2. Stay in synch with your walking companion.
As I mentioned in #1, Buddy is really getting the hang of this dog walking thing (or human walking thing... as it sometimes seems). Eric and I take turns holding the leash, and when I'm trailing behind them, I enjoy watching the dynamic that happens. There is a mindfulness of where each is at in regards to pacing and direction. There is a give and take. Buddy may try to speed up or veer off in a slightly different direction, but does so with an awareness of what's going on with Eric and adjusts accordingly. And vice versa. It's almost like each is a personal trainer, looking out for the other's best interest. And isn't that what healthy, loving partnership is all about? Finding the "higher road" together for the greater good?
3. Drink from the pond.
Buddy doesn't have a water dish outside. Instead, he drinks from a beautiful pond with fish and frogs and plants and algae. All co-existing together. Buddy somehow knows the value of taking nourishment from this perfect, self-sustaining ecosystem. Imagine living in a world like this pond... with healthy, nourishing interdependence. Thank you for the perspective, Buddy.
4. Love and protect fiercely.
Border Collies in particular have an innate instinct to serve and protect. Buddy is no exception. And here, with so much wildlife and open space, he has his work cut out for him. He is tireless in his attempts to stave off coyotes and other possible threats. I often hear him outside our trailer... barking and dashing about. He is a fierce protector. He also greets us when we come home... and herds us safely inside. There is an honorable sense of duty that feels like love, reminding me to cherish who and what I hold dear. And to be clear about how best I can do that.
5. Don't chase cars in the road!
Probably with good intentions (he is a herding dog after all), Buddy has had this thing about wandering off to the road on his own to chase cars. I'm hoping the regular walks on a leash will curb the desire (so far so good), but nonetheless, this is part of Buddy's troubled past... lol. Chasing cars can be self-defeating (not to mention dangerous)! The lesson? Don't chase! Allow the "cars" that are meant to find you to come down your driveway. Otherwise, just let them pass. :-)
6. Know when to go through an open door.
Buddy is primarily an outdoor dog. And there's a lot of dirt and mud outside. So there are places inside that he is not allowed to venture. And he has pretty much had to learn (sometimes the hard way) that just because a door is open, he shouldn't necessarily go through it. He needs to be invited. Lesson: Not all open doors are meant for us. It's best to get clear about which ones are ours to go through. To know when we have an authentic invitation from on high.
7. Don't be afraid to lay right down in the dirt.
Buddy has no qualms about laying right down wherever he is... to rest or to simply enjoy the moment. Often this will be right down on the dirt... or mud even. He's not afraid to get his paws (or the rest of him) dirty. Perhaps he knows this is where much of real life occurs. In the messy places. The raw, unrefined, unkempt parts of ourselves and our world. Enjoying freedom from perfection and appearances. I'll probably be learning this one for a while. ;-)
8. Expose your underbelly every once in a while!
Whenever I greet Buddy, the first thing he does is drop down and roll onto his back. Just like that. So trusting... so open and ready to receive. Completely vulnerable. My energy tells him it's OK. He absolutely knows the reward that awaits. A loving pat on the head and a gentle belly rub. Showing our underbellies now and again can be so healing. We just need to have a good sense of who we can be vulnerable with... to be aware of the energy between each other.
Buddy gets pretty worked up over birds and insects... and airplanes. I kid you not... he barks at airplanes! So I've deduced that he gets excited about anything that flies. He knows that flying is where it's at! Living free and soaring above it all... spreading our wings. Thanks for the reminder, Buddy. To live with our paws in the earth while our spirits soar. Yes!
10. Kiss often... love unconditionally.
Last but not least. It is completely natural for Buddy to love unconditionally. To lavish with face licks and an ever loving gaze. It's not even something he does... it's just what he is. Without the ego that we humans have that can get in the way. A dog has no ego. Just as Spirit has no ego. Again, the DOG-GOD thing. Having Buddy around helps ground me in unconditional love. I will never be as good at giving and receiving it as he is, but what a gift it is to have him around. And I know I'm not alone there. We humans love our canines! It really is a dog's life... we're just lucky to get to share it with them. :-)