Restless? It’s your time to grow

March 22nd, 2016

Spring brings familiar, yet mysterious longings. The first balmy day, even in March, stirs up the soil of souls. Something wants to break open, sprout, take root and grow. But what?

Often our first impulse is to change something and that’s not an altogether foolish response. I recently cut my hair short and added blond streaks, gave away fully one-third of my clothes, and bought a flashy new swimsuit. No pictures, sorry. But my restlessness, and perhaps yours, merits deeper reflection and response.

crocusYour desire for something you cannot name signals readiness for spiritual growth—for digging deeper inside, for listening to your soul, and for discerning how to nurture the person you are becoming.

Sound daunting? Yes, but only if you expect this spiritual growth to adhere to your timetable. You cannot create goals, action plans and deadlines for this kind of change. Rather you companion it, wait patiently for it to happen, ask for grace or pray, and continue to listen deeply to what your mind, body and spirit have to say. Then, with courage, you act.

The cycles of nature teach us how to do this.

Winter reminds us to rest and renew. Soil that is repeatedly planted and harvested loses nutrients. Lives that are perpetually busy lose authenticity and purpose. In winter, we trust that even though growth is not evident, creativity thrives in the deep soil of our souls. Are you being invited to rest and renew?

Spring brings hope and new beginnings. We may think of this season as a time of flowers pushing through the soil, a dramatic shift from winter’s icy temperatures to the warm breezes of longer days. But inside ourselves, spring is also helping us thaw, release, transform, grow, emerge. What new beginning are you being called to consider?

Summer bursts forth with beauty and teaches us resilience. Blessing us with both gifts and challenges, it features riotous color and parched grassland. Thunderous storms and blissful sunny days. Hot, buggy evenings and cool early mornings. How are you being encouraged to savor your life and work through setbacks?

Fall sets the stage of harvesting, discovering wisdom and offering gratitude.
It treads gently upon the tender parts of our hearts, both cheering and saddening us with our shared experiences of loss, remembrance, surrender and celebration.What you have learned through your experience and what you are grateful for?
 
So restlessness invites you to enter this cycle, at whatever stage reflects the work your spiritual growth requires. For my part, with my short streaked hair and colorful swimsuit, I am plunging into spring by listening to my body and trusting that greater fitness brings hope and a new beginning.

Enjoy the discoveries, the insights, the wisdom and the joy of your Inner Gardening.

Affirmation: I welcome restlessness as an invitation to grow.

 

December 31st, 2015

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
–Richard Rohr

Too often New Year’s Resolutions lapse after a few weeks or months, despite our best intentions. Richard Rohr, Franciscan priest and author, suggests an alternative approach to change. Dispatch with over-thinking. Avoid evaluating your weaknesses and comparing yourself to others. Set aside your goals for now. Focus on living, not thinking.

Sounds good, but how do you heed his advice?  In his post, Rohr calls for accepting and welcoming reality as a first step and then opening up to who you truly are. “We do not find our own center,” he says, “it finds us.”

His perspective mirrors the essence of the Winter season. Winter provides time and space for dormancy, for resting rather than doing, for opening up to what wants to grow in us, and for connecting with that larger self that is God, the Universal One, the Creator, the Divine Energy.

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In our Tending Your Inner Garden Journal of Personal Transformation and Renewal (see below), we guide you through this season of reflection. A visualization connects you with what you find sacred. Through journaling, you discover who you at your core. Through an outdoor adventure you savor stillness, both inside and outside.

This week, experience the gifts of Winter and live into a new way of thinking.
Do this:
Find a comfortable place to sit–inside or outside–and tune into whatever sounds you hear. Welcome everything, the car going by, the dog barking, the refrigerator humming, the silence.
Select something from nature and gaze at it without interruption for five minutes. What do you see?
Eat a mindful meal, giving yourself plenty of time to chew and taste each bite. If you do this with others, agree to not talk during this time. What do you notice?
Give yourself a spa day or break. Do what comforts your body.
Be grateful. You are alive with the ability to experience both your inner reality and the created world. Say “thank you” several times each day.
Affirmation: Today I avoid over-thinking by accepting and savoring the present.

Find the Tending Your Inner Garden Journal of Personal Transformation and Renewal on our web site books page (scroll down).
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www.tendingyourinnergarden.com/bookstore

What are the rings of your life?

August 17th, 2015

Last week my seven-year-old granddaughter was visiting, and we went “shopping” in our basement storeroom. It was fascinating to experience that space through a child’s eyes. The room that is constantly on my Cleaning To Do list held endless wonder for Brylee, who found all sorts of little trinkets on the lower shelves, right at her eye level.

Among the many items she zeroed in on was a tiny box I’d bought in Spain on a high school trip. And inside was a ring I hadn’t seen for decades—one of those sets of four interlocking rings that was popular years ago.

It’s tarnished and looks more fragile than I remembered (and somehow it doesn’t fit my ring finger anymore), but it’s still in my possession—something I haven’t discarded or given away through the years.

As Brylee and I tried to put those rings back together, I thought about the qualities in all of us that stay with us through our lives, even though we don’t always know how the pieces fit.

So here’s my question: What are four qualities in you that might look a little tarnished and fragile when they’re separate from the others, but when they come together, make the unique whole of who you are?

It’s a good topic for journaling, and we’d love to hear what you learn about yourself. Please post comments below if you like.

Have a wonderful week of discovery!

 
Affirmation: Today I value the different parts of myself that
come together as a strong and enduring whole.

Finding Your Way

June 28th, 2015

My husband saw a butterfly the size of a monarch today, and he said it reminded him of how many generations it takes for those royal butterflies to migrate.

“If it takes several generations to get to Mexico,” he said, “how do they know what route to take?”

 It’s a great question. We think of butterflies as the iconic symbol of rebirth and transformation,but they also have much to teach us about trusting an inner knowing to follow a path we’ve never seen before.

Here’s what a news report said about the monarch migration:

“Every fall, monarchs in North America begin their long journey back to Mexico for the winter. Then, in March, they start breeding, and fly north to lay eggs in Texas or elsewhere in the South. Successive generations move north, before reversing their course in the fall. On average, the journey spans four generations, although it can take as many as five.”

Clearly, there’s no elder monarch leading the way, telling the others, “This way! Follow me!” Instead, each new generation along the route somehow finds the path, using the sun or magnetic fields as clues about general direction.

And how do they find the same spots in Mexico year after year? No one knows.

There are many things we don’t know, either, about our own paths and how we follow them. Why do we move forward with confidence some days, while other times are filled with self-doubt? Why do we end up in a relationship that doesn’t serve us when we make consistently successful choices in our work?

And how do we know which way to go when there is no road map, and when each new stage of life feels like another generation in our life migration?

This week, take time to journal about the inner knowing that serves as a compass along your way.

1. Think of times when you were certain about decisions in your life. How did you know they were right for you?

2. Revisit a time when you needed to leave an old relationship, job, friendship or home behind. How did you know it was time to leave…and what inner knowing directed your path forward?

3. Do you trust your inner guidance system? Why or why not? How could you strengthen it by seeing how it has served you in the past?

Affirmation: Today I follow my inner guidance. By going within and listening carefully, I know the path that’s right for me. 

What’s your story?

June 20th, 2015
 
On National Public Radio last week, a man by the name of Dave Isay talked about his StoryCorps project, which has recorded more than 50,000 personal interviews in everyday places like Grand Central Station.

In those interviews, kids pose questions to parents, husbands reminisce with their wives and childhood friends interview one another. In every interview, a treasure is uncovered–a sentiment that’s never been expressed or a story that’s been untold.

These first-person stories–which are uploaded to the Library of Congress–capture the exquisite feeling of knowing someone acknowledges your existence and cares what you know and feel.

That kind of listening is central to Tending Your Inner Garden. In every workshop, we give women an opportunity to give and receive active listening.

But deep listening is important not just between one person and another. It’s also vital between you and yourself.

StoryCorps now has an app that gives you everything you need to interview someone and upload it to the Library of Congress. But Isay says something interesting is happening.

In addition to people talking with each other, they now are interviewing themselves with questions like these:

* What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?

* How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?

* What are you proudest of?

Those questions (and many others, available on the app) are similar to the ones we pose each week, but the app format gives you the opportunity to record your answers rather than saving them in your journal.

We encourage you to take the time to honor yourself this way. Even if you don’t upload your finished interview, the act of recording it will give you a voice you may not have had before. To find the app, go to http://storycorps.org.

And, since we’re on the topic of questions, here are a few to ponder as prompts:

* I want to interview myself because….

* By telling my story to myself, I’ll be better able to…

* The question I most want to ask myself is…

Affirmation: Today I listen to myself with my whole heart, deeply honoring my story and that which matters most in my life.

Are you listening to your body?

June 19th, 2015

Your body is the ground metaphor of your life, the expression of your existence. It is your Bible, your encyclopedia, your life story.”
–Gabrielle Roth, dancer and musician

Are you listening to your body? Do you seek its advice? How to you respond to its fatigue, aliveness, tenseness, or its desire to move or be still?

Your body accompanies you throughout life, being present for both your birth and your death. That makes it the most complete and intimate record of what you have done, what you have felt, whom you have loved, who has caused you anger or pain, and what has brought you joy. Is it any wonder it wants to talk with you?

Too often we decide to change our lives without consulting our bodies. We take stressful office jobs and develop back pain.

We tackle an arduous home remodeling job only to recall that we aren’t as nimble, strong or flexible as we once were.

We get by on five hours of sleep a night and fall victim to a string of illnesses.

If asked, your body might give you valuable guidance. For example:

What career should I pursue? you ask.

I like being outdoors and moving about, your body says. Find something that allows us to do that.

How do you feel when I get up at 4:30 every morning? you ask.

Our ability to make decisions is impaired, your body responds.  That’s important to know, right?

What do you think of this new guy I’m dating? you ask.

When we are with him, I feel relaxed, energized and happy, your body responds.

By conversing in this way and by acknowledging what you hear, you and your body become the intimate friends you were designed to be.  Find out for yourself.

This week, try this:

Pause periodically during the day. Notice how your body feels. Do you sense pain, fatigue, tenseness–signs you need to rest? Or do you feel the aliveness and joy you desire?

Start a conversation with your body or part of your body that is calling for your attention. Perhaps that is a lower back pain, a headache or simply a feeling of constriction. Ask a simple question like “What is going on?” Or “What do you need?”

End your day with gratitude. Reflect on all you have done today. What contribution did your body make? Thank it for allowing you to participate in life.

Gabrielle Roth, American dancer and musician, regards the body as a sacred text with a storehouse of memories, wisdom, gifts and personal history. Read it with reverence, consult it with respect, and trust where it leads you.

Affirmation: Today I commit to developing a closer relationship with my body. 

Imagining your life

April 14th, 2015
Front yard March and April

What a difference a month makes! This top photo of our front yard was taken March 15, and the bottom photo was taken today, less than four weeks later. We’ve moved from dormancy to visible growth almost overnight.

At our Art of Transitioning workshop last Saturday, we talked about the way our inner gardens mirror this process of change, and the power of imagination to create the growth we desire.

If you want to move from March to April in your own life, here’s one of the activities from the workshop that you can do on your own to prompt a shift:

Think of a change in your life that you’re pondering, but which doesn’t seem fully formed yet. It might be a move, a career change, an opportunity to spend more time with family or some other step in your life that isn’t yet completely clear.

Now imagine that change as though it has already happened, and write the story of it in your journal. Write about it as though it is already completed–as though April has arrived. How does it feel? How is your life better for having made the change?

This can help you move from dormancy to growth, creating a clear intention of the direction you want to go.

Affirmation: Today I imagine my life as I wish it to be, creating the changes that will nourish my heart and soul.

“What am I here for?

December 20th, 2014

Life has a way of giving us answers to that question. But over time, the answers may change and disappear. You may think you’re here to have children and raise a family. Or to have a successful career. Or to take care of someone who needs your help.

But children grow up. Careers shift and end. Loved ones pass or no longer need our care.

And then the question arises again: What am I here for?

To get to the deeper answer, it helps to look inside rather than to the outside world.

What if we’re here to experience soul growth every day, no matter what’s going on in the world around us? What if we’re here to know ourselves better, becoming more in tune with the seeds of creativity and passion in our inner gardens?

What if the answer to “What am I here for?” comes from…

• opening up to spiritual growth and learning.

• finding new ways to ground yourself while letting energy flow through you.

• expressing yourself as a creative being.

• bringing love into the world daily.

• measuring your purpose not by how much money you make or what your children do, but rather by whether you’re willing to keep digging deeper into your inner garden.

Take a few minutes today to sit down and journal. Make yourself a cup of tea, find 10 or 15 minutes of quiet time, and ask your inner self the question, “What am I here for?” Listen deeply and, if you’re willing, please let us know what you learn.

If you’re interested in spiritual growth within a community of other women, check out our 2015 workshops, all designed to help you find peace and purpose in the coming year.

Women, we need your input: What matters most to you?

October 1st, 2014
  • How can I experience more creative energy in my life?
  • What supports or limits my growth or potential?
  • How does gratitude bring me greater inner peace?
  • Am I more committed to looking better on the outside or feeling better inside?

In 2015, we’ll offer four workshops, each themed to the most common questions on women’s minds. Each one-day gathering will provide a safe, comfortable space for you to talk with others who share your interests—and explore your own thoughts and dreams.

So here’s what we want to know:What questions are on your mind? The ones above are samples, but we want to hear what you’re thinking about these days. What are your concerns? What do you need help with? If these workshops were designed specifically for you, what would your questions be?

Tell us your top four. Nothing is off limits.

We want to get to the root of what matters most to you, so please comment here or contact us with your input. After hearing from you, we’ll choose the four topics for the workshops and announce the themes for each of these 2015 dates:

  • January 24
  • April 11
  • July 18
  • October 17

Thank you for giving us your input by November 30. We’ll keep you posted about the results!

 

 

 

Independence Day

July 3rd, 2014

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

  • Women often try so hard to please others they forget to take care of themselves.
  • Your joy is in you, not outside of you.
  • The universe is working for your good, even though it may not seem like it some days.
  • It’s okay to say no.
  • Peace comes not from trying to control your world, but by seeing the gifts in it.

We’ve all heard these truths and others, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded. Especially on a day like Independence Day, when we celebrate freedom. This is a perfect time to spend a few moments with your journal and ask yourself: What truths are self-evident for me?

No matter where you live or what situations you face, you get to choose freedom in your own mind. It might mean choosing forgiveness so you’re not imprisoned by anger or blame. It could mean choosing to say no so you won’t be constrained by obligations or relationships that don’t serve you. And it could be choosing what’s right for you and speaking up about it, no matter what anyone else expects of you.

On this Independence Day weekend, take some time to explore your own truths. Say no. Ask for help. Look for joy. Take time for yourself. Journal. Walk. Meditate. Remember. Trust your gut.

When the fireworks go off inside, signaling an ah-ha moment or the excitement of what’s to come, you’ll know it’s time to celebrate your own personal Independence Day. Have a freedom-filled Fourth…and Fifth and Sixth, and all the days to come!