Monday, January 24, 2011

This One Time

This One Time

© 2011 Joyce Leonard

I recently attended a memorial service for a woman I only met a few times, but who my husband and his family knew well. I’m always struck by how people are remembered. It’s usually their love of life, their kind and open heart, and the contributions they made to their community and society.

These services often get me thinking of how I am showing up in the world—the “so what” that I was on the earth for the better part of a century. Oh yes, people will tell you of my vivaciousness, the way I make people feel heard and seen, all the cats and kittens I’ve cared for, my sitting with the dying, and my passions for teaching, coaching, and helping others live life deeply and joyfully. I have no doubt about the indelible footprint I leave on the people I know and love.

What this gets me thinking about is how I am experiencing my own life. Do I recognize and feel my own zest for life in the moment? Or is it only upon reflection or storytelling that I remember this joy and passion? Am I fully present—in mind, body, and spirit— during the day or is most of what I experience so familiar to me, like breathing and the pumping of my heart, that I don’t actually notice? Certainly I would notice if my zest weren’t there, but because it is so commonplace, I often don’t appreciate it in each moment.

How does one keep the commonplace, the familiar, fresh in each moment? I pondered the idea of appreciating every moment with the mindset of it being the last time I experience something…like talking with my beloved, playing with my cat, or taking my morning walk. But the thought of death felt ever-present, and my inclination would be to grasp at the experiences in hungry, needy ways. I would remember all the other times and want to make this time better, or the best, which would only serve to denigrate the actual moment. I would make more of the situation than was actually there.

Then I played with approaching the familiar as if it were the first time I experienced it. How does that morning cup of perfectly prepared latte taste, each sip being brand new? What does it feel like to brush my teeth for the first time? In this scenario, I can still think about the next time I have that latte and the improvements I can make to it, or how I need to remember to spend more time on those problem areas of my mouth the next time I brush.

The ultimate mindset for me, I believe, is that whatever I am doing or experiencing is the only time. My focus would be on fully experiencing what is right here in this precise moment. No previous experience; no next time. Just right now—this one time. What are all my senses experiencing when I eat my salad? How is my body responding during exercise? What beauty resides in the bird’s song?

This particular look at life also helps me to fully understand the impermanence in all things. If this is the only time I will see or experience this one thing, then I will soak in its beauty in the moment, and then let it go. Holding on to the moment will cause me to miss the beauty in the next moment, and the moment after that. There is much beauty to behold and experience. If I get lost in the past (how I have experienced this before), or get tied to some projection of the future (how I want it to be next time), then I lose the beauty of this very moment.

I have heard these notions a hundred times— for today only…in this moment…be here now— from Eckhart Tolle to Wayne Dyer to Thich Nhat Hanh. I understood it intellectually, but today, I have an experiential understanding. I can feel the present moment in my body and in my spirit.

This is how I will know how I am experiencing my life and, therefore, how I am showing up in the world. I will feel my vivaciousness fully in each moment. When I’m with the animals and people in my life, I will naturally be fully present with them, being curious about who they are and what they want in life. This will enable me to be of service to all. Not relying on past or future times, but seeing what is to be both celebrated and given right this moment.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We Are Not Alone

When I realized that what I had been intending – what I had been meditating on – what I had been doing Reiki on – what I had put my Celestial Team on (whom I didn’t really believe in but was applying the ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ approach), had actually manifested itself…to the letter, I went into my room, closed the door and threw my head back and laughed and cried, cried and laughed. I danced a little jig. “I’m not alone! I’m not alone!” I exclaimed. Holding my arms out wide, up toward the sky, I welcomed in my Team – acknowledging them for the first time in my life. Pure love washed over me and I felt completely embraced. It was like a homecoming. “Now I don’t have to work so hard – I don’t have to do it all myself by pushing and pushing,” I cried. It felt like I had been rescued from a deserted island, where I had been stranded for years having to struggle to do everything myself. Help had arrived! Yet, I have the feeling that they’ve always been here…only I just wasn’t ready for them. Until now.

“Thank you; thank you; thank you,” I uttered in complete gratitude. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you!” I stopped in my tracks; ‘deserve’…now that’s an interesting word. This means: be worthy of; earn; merit; warrant; justify. This feels like it’s straight from the “original sin” mindset: The Christian belief that we are born sinners and our salvation relies solely on God’s forgiveness.

“There is no ‘deserving,’” I heard them say. “There is no ‘deserving’ because there is no authority, no judging, no separation, no duality, no ‘you’, no ‘them’, no ‘us’. You are a part of everything that has past, everything that is now, and everything that will come – everyone is. You need only to tell us what you want – how you want to heal the world – and we will manifest it in the purest way with reconnection to spirit, to soul, to love. You are not alone in this endeavor. Millions are with you and you are with millions. All with the goal of healing the world.”

So there it is: My official connection to ‘spirit’ – to something larger than myself. It consists of me, and you, and everyone and everything else – the Cosmic Consciousness, the ultimate Mastermind Group, the great Sacred Circle. No constructs, no dogma, no further explanations. I just want to throw my head back and laugh and cry and do a little jig in the midst of Mystery.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 3 - 30 Days on a Diabetic Diet

I found it VERY challenging to keep to my 6 portions of carbs yesterday – mainly because I ate out for two of my meals. I see that our American diet does not support the diabetic diet – something the diabetics already know, I am sure.

We rushed out early to meet a friend for a bike race at UCSC. We grabbed breakfast at a coffeehouse. I got a bagel with egg. Fortunately it was a smaller bagel – still it counted for 4 carbs. There really wasn’t anything less grievous. I had peanut butter and celery for lunch – at home. Perfect. Frank and I celebrated 10 years of being together by going to a lounge in the late afternoon to enjoy music and dancing. We were hungry and all they had were chips and salsa. I didn’t eat too many, but certainly 1 carb worth. Plus one cosmo - another carb. My daily total all used up.

Then, for dinner, we went to an Italian place, recommended by the bartender at the lounge. Here is where I made an incorrect choice: ravioli, bread, and wine instead of a salad and water. Another incorrect choice: eat a bit of the ravioli and take the rest home, not eat the entire meal.

Here’s where my own beliefs come into play. Going out for a celebratory dinner and only having salad and water??? My belief is that this is the time to splurge – to do otherwise would feel diminishing.

Another belief I have is to clean my plate. It goes against my ethics to leave food on the plate to be thrown away. Have we any idea all that it “costs” to put food on our table, in terms of water, soil, farm labor, etc? And for those who eat meat, dairy, and eggs – all that the animal contributed to get this food to us? And then, with a caviler attitude, we take a few bites and leave the rest to be thrown away. To me, this feels like a total disrespect for the land, the farmers, the animals, and the chef! Some people are taught to leave a bit of food on the plate. I’m not sure why (I was raised by ‘clean your plate’ parents). Perhaps it shows discipline and refinery. This really gets to me…especially when done at a buffet where we can monitor the amount that goes on our plates. If you don’t want to take the food you’ve not eaten home, box it up and give it to a homeless person. Feed it to your cat or dog. Make good use of it…recycle it for heavens sake, don’t just throw it away!

Stepping off my soap box, and getting back to reflecting on my eating yesterday, I certainly could have boxed up half of my meal…I really wasn’t that hungry to eat it all. But the celebratory nature of our evening, the cosmo, dancing, and wine had me feeling quite giddy – and I had no discipline. I ate the whole meal – with glee I might add.

Lessons learned:
- Eating breakfast on the run is challenging, so plan better and have breakfast at home – especially when I know I’m going to be eating dinner in a restaurant that night.
- Ask the waiter for a take home box immediately after bringing my meal and put half of it in there. Then totally, decadently enjoy the rest of my meal.

Today, I’m gleefully back on track. I see I have a lot to learn in these 30-days!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


BTW, I AM still on the journey of 30-Days of Calling in My Team. It's just that not much has happened in that regard. Benny is a bit more friendly, and all the other intentions are not due in for a while.

I am, however, using Reiki and Intention and The Team (all the same, I realize) to get rid of the wasp nest in the Sacred Redwood Circle. I got stung twice in the head and had a pretty strong reaction a few weeks ago when I discovered it. We don't want to use pesticides to extricate then it would no longer be a sacred circle :(

My Animal Reiki teacher (Kathleen Prasad) did this once with a flea infestation she had in her backyard. She gave them 7 days to relocate or she'd have to call in the exterminator. She visualized harmony in her yard, asked the fleas to leave, asked all the other creatures in her yard to assist, and did Reiki on the yard. Day 1: she had so many fleas on her leg she couldn't count them all. Day 3: half as many. Day 7: NONE.

I've given the wasps 9 days. Today they have 7. I've suggested alternate locations where they could live undisturbed (directly east, across the river where there are no houses), explained the new use of the area (A Sacred Circle), asked for harmony in our yard, asked the Redwood Trees to help me (as this is where the wasps are living), and asked all the other critters and plants in the yard to help out. I am after a peaceful solution. If, by the 10th day they are still here, I will smoke them out. This won't kill them, but things will be very unpleasant and they will have to immediately find a new home and relocate. Wouldn't it be better to scout out the perfect new home and move in casually over the course of the next several days? I know this is anthropomorphizing, but I know that through Reiki, they understand.

I'd appreciate any help you can give us by visualizing the wasps (or whatever they are...could be yellow jackets) relocating to a safer place by August 29th and the Sacred Circle being a place of harmony, joy, and peace.

30 Days on a Diabetic Diet - Day 1

I've taken several weeks off from blogging and while it has felt good on one level, it also feels as though I'm missing insights and learnings. For the past 3-weeks I've been focusing on various intentions and calling in my Team. There hasn't been much to blog about that, in that regards. It's more of a wait and see.

Then, last night we had dinner with some good friends. The woman came down with gestation diabetes with her last pregnancy, which went away after giving birth, four months ago. She was told there is a possibility it would stay with her, so she stayed on her "diabetic diet", just to be sure. She has lost about 20 lbs from where she was before her pregnancy and is feeling terrific (she should be exhausted with a newborn and a 5-year old). She calls it a blessing in disguise. Her weight is now perfectly normal.

This got me thinking. I have wanted to lose 10-15 lbs for about 30 years!!! Amazing when I think about it. As I get older, I can't carry this extra weight as gracefully as I could when I was younger. The last few years I have felt quite frumpy. When I look at myself in the mirror, I am surprised because my body doesn't reflect the perky and lively spirit it contains.

Something in me just clicked last night and this morning I am starting a new 30-day intention: to be on a diabetic diet for 30 days and just see what happens. It's an experiment - which is a mindset that works well for me. Up until now, losing weight has been more of a "should" than a "want to". Whenever I have thought about it in the past, I felt diminished. But now it feels invigorating – like the next natural step in my development (thanks Maja for that insight).

Fortunately, I've got all the literature from Cap's doctors about what to eat, the proportions, and how to count. It's mainly about the carbs (which includes fruits and starchy vegetables). This morning I made myself a check box and a quick reference sheet on carbs. I can have 6 portions of carbs a day and 2 fruits. Whenever I eat one portion, I check one of the boxes on my sheet. That way, I'll stay the course very easily (yes, I’m a BIG J on the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator).

To set myself up for success, I purchased ingredients today for a killer salad - one I've already made up that will last me about 5 days. And I bought ingredients for low-fat hummus and also more beans. I'm looking forward to having the hummus with raw vegetables. As a vegan, just about all of my protein also contains carbs. Beans are both protein and carbs, which is better for me than bread.

This time of year, I tend to eat a lot of fruit - on my diabetic diet, I'm allowed two a day. I'm seeing now just how many carbs I put into my diet. I'm wondering if after a few days I will also notice a change in my energy. I'm suspecting it will be more even, not spiky. I'm also figuring I'll need to eat a little bit throughout the day instead of eating a lot a just few times a day...which I think is better for me anyway - spread out the energy I put into my body and I will have a more even output as well.

So, I am committing myself to this experiment for 30 days. I am asking you to be my witnesses and support. I also commit to blogging no less than 4 times a week during this experiment.

And the journey continues…

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 30 August 5, 2009

Today is my 30th day of being with my natural energy. I have definitely kicked the habit of running to chocolate or caffeine or food to alter my energy. Now, if I’m tired and I have the time, I take a little nap. I’m a good napper, fortunately. I can rest for as little as 10-minutes and feel better for several hours afterward.

As an experiment, last night I had some chocolate. I wasn’t tired; I just wanted to see what it felt like. There was a bit of a risk that I would really like it, but I felt it important that I test this out.

I didn’t like the feeling AT ALL :( I had a hard time focusing and being present when Frank and I were doing our check-in. I was impatient, my pulse was faster, and I felt that pressure behind my eyeballs. I am glad I imbibed at night, so that I could put myself out of my misery by just going to bed a bit early.

So it is, indeed, a done deal. It took less than 30-days, and I am very pleased with both the journey and the end result.

I have also really enjoyed blogging on an almost-every-day basis. It is a wonderful way to underpin my “ah has” and insights and it’s nice to know others have benefited from what they have read as well.

I’ve already started my 30-days of Calling in My Celestial Team (I’ll have to rename this when I am more familiar with it all). I will blog as often as I can…probably 4-5 times a week…documenting the process and results.

Thank you for joining me, witnessing, and supporting me on my 30-days of Being with My Natural Energy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day 26 August 1, 2009

Talk about a flexible day! I was planning on spending the day with my friend, April, teaching her Usui Reiki Ryoho. But she got held over at work for 1 ½ hours and was so frustrated by that time, that we just called it off. She needed to pick something up at my house, so the plan was that she would stop off on her way home. Now my day is completely free. Frank is away until mid-afternoon. What one of my many passions do I want to pursue? The Redwood grove called to me. So, I got my saw, clippers, pruner, gloves, and water, and spent two glorious hours continuing to clear out my Redwood grove of YEARS worth of underbrush.

I was entering the thickest part of my little grove…the dead leaves and broken limbs were piled 6 feet high. I started pulling them all down when a wasp flew out and stung me on my head…getting caught in my hair in the process. I tried to get it loose with my gloved hand. Then another bee stung me…and got caught in my hair. I ran from the grove, shaking and slapping my head all the while. Finally, I separated the bees from my hair.

The pain from the stings was immense. My head immediately grew hot and I had an intense headache. My heartbeat quickened and I could feel my heart pounding in my throat and chest. I took off my gloves and noticed that my wedding ring was tight. I managed to get it off. I had a metallic taste in my mouth. I moved my tongue around in my mouth to see if it was swollen…it was not. I swallowed…no issues there or with my breathing. I knew April would be at my house any minute. She’s a firefighter and would know what to do. I layed down on the ground, breathing into my lower hara, trying to calm my system down.

About 5-minutes later, Angel April drove up. Poor thing…held over at work, lots of traffic on her hour-plus commute home, and now she’ll get held up here at my house. She went into calm action…asking me many questions. She said that people who have an anaphylactic reaction usually get it right away, so the fact that I wasn’t having difficulty breathing, didn’t have a rash, wasn’t swelling up, and didn’t feel dizzy or disoriented, I should be okay. In addition to the fact that I’ve been stung many times before, with no adverse reactions.

About 10-minutes later, however, my entire body felt itchy. No rash, but itchy. April said that Benedryl is administered in the case of a reaction and recommended that I take some, just in case. So, she runs off to the store to buy me some. By the time she comes back, I’ve got a rash over the bulk of my body. I feel sick to my stomach, have stomach cramping, and I am dizzy when I stand up. I take the maximum recommended amount of Benedryl and April decides to stick around for a while to see if my symptoms get worse. She gets me an ice pack for my stings, and even makes my father-in-law’s lunch. Did I mention she is an angel? I really don’t know how long she stayed – somewhere between 30-45 minutes is my best guess…I’m feeling restless and anxious (another symptom, I learn later) and am trying to relax on the couch. She checks on me again…my symptoms are not getting worse, so she feels I have experienced the worst of it. She leaves for home, and I promise to call her in a few hours.

Frank came home shortly after April left. I filled him in on the story and told him I was heading into the bedroom, as the drowsy effects of the Benedryl were finally hitting me, so it was a good time for a nap. He said he’d take a nap with me, that way he could be sure I kept breathing…how did I get so lucky to have such caring, loving people around me??? I dropped off into a deep sleep for the rest of the afternoon, with my husband and kitten Josey by my side.

I am wondering why I am having this allergic reaction, when I have not in the past. (When I was in a young girl, I stepped in a yellow jacket nest on my uncle’s property and got stung several times on my head…with no allergic reaction). Then it dawns on me…I am taking heavy-duty Rheumatoid Arthritis medications whose sole functions are to suppress my immune system. So my body is limited in its ability to fight off the effects of the stings. Just another example of how I’m not in the same category as most people and not even in the same category that I used to be in. I need to constantly remember this…no assumptions anymore.

When I started this day, I asked my still-to-be-realized celestial team to help purge me of anger and worry…two emotions that I have not been aware existed in me before…before I started this 30-day journey. I am wondering if this experience is in any way an answer to my request. Because, in the midst of the pain and effects of my allergic reaction, I did not have any anger or worries…I was totally present and in the moment. I wasn’t angry or even worried about my situation. I knew I was in excellent hands with Angel April. I hope my team doesn’t think I need to be hit over the head (or stung on the head) before I will change. Boy, I hope that isn’t true.

I think I’ll go for a more benign request tomorrow, just in case :)