I am stopping in a moment to write, as I have throughout my life when the feelings are just too big to hold. For most of my life I would write of fear, confusion, anger and judgement. Thinking I knew best, I wanted to change it all. Yet, I was small with a weak voice and the faintest of hearts. As a young child, I would break into tears if someone looked into my eyes. Being in a room full of people made me feel sick to my stomach. I absorbed everyone. I became them. I disappeared. Just as Christ bore the cross and Buddha fought Mara under the Bodhi tree, I felt the weight of the world. I didn’t understand it or know that it was happening. I only knew that I didn’t know myself. I was a chameleon. Although I made others feel seen and was great at helping them, it exhausted me. The weight grew more and more heavy. And then in an instant, upon experiencing the deepest of all betrayals, I died and became empty, unsure of what remained. I saw myself as a tree uprooted, fallen to the ground with little chance of taking root again.
Whereas at the time, the emptiness felt like the greatest suffering I had ever experienced, now I know that it was an opportunity to be refilled with my Authentic Self, with pure love. The feelings are still too much to bear sometimes. But they are new and they break me in a completely different way. What I feel, at this moment, as I attempt to spill my heart out onto the page is the opposite of what I used to feel.
Having just returned from a very simple errand, I stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of the moon peeking through the clouds. I felt the pull to merge with it, to leave behind the illusion and become one with what is real. I yearn to unite with the bliss that I get glimpses of as I see the sunset while a perfect song plays and speaks to my soul. My heart bursts with joy as I witness the miraculous recovery of a friend and adoration pours forth as I spend the simplest of moments with my children. I realize now that the tears I spilled as a child were not of sadness and insecurity but of sheer overwhelm. I have always been able to tap into the vastness of all that is and to know that I am a part of it. This kind of love hurts and I wonder if anyone else in the world feels it so strongly. I don’t feel it for one, I feel it for all and it is more than I can handle. So I pick up a pen and attempt to explain just what it is to experience Heaven on Earth. In spite of the times we are living in, my heart burns with gratitude that I am gifted with the ability to shed all that does not belong to me and return to my Authentic Self. As my tears are flowing now, I stand rooted and upright, touching the heavens, aching to cross over to where I may find another who understands.
Last week while visiting family, my father took me to my aunt’s house to show me her butterfly garden. During the quarantine, she and her husband have gathered milkweed covered in caterpillar eggs and have kept them until the caterpillars hatch and metamorphose. I had never seen a monarch chrysalis up close and was surprised by it’s sparkling flecks of gold. Curious about it, I resolved to read about it at some point and quickly forgot.
Just now, I came upon a post on my neighborhood’s page which had a photo of a monarch chrysalis and I paused to read it. To my surprise, it answered the exact questions I had. The most logical reason for the gold is that it reflects the external light in order to hide itself. Whereas we humans think of gold as something that demands attention, in nature it is used as camouflage. The gold forms a ring around the top of the chrysalis resembling a crown, suggesting royalty that seeks to blend into its environment.
Whenever I consider butterflies and transformation, I am reminded of my favorite book as a teenager. It was a parable called, Hope For the Flowers, by Trina Paulus which I found on a bookshelf in another aunt’s home. The story is about a population of caterpillars which crawl on top of one another climbing higher and higher, using others as stepping stones along the way. None of them know where they are going or why, however, they continue on because it is what they have always done. Two caterpillars meet each other’s gaze on the way up and realize that they do not want to keep climbing. They retreat down the tower and find love and joy together. At some point, one of them becomes restless and decides that he must know what is on top of the tower. He leaves his mate behind. She mourns his loss and suffers from loneliness until she sees another caterpillar hanging upside down. Intrigued, she asks questions and eventually decides to follow her inner program in order to surrender to the mysterious process of change. After she emerges, she flies to the caterpillar tower looking for her friend. She knows then that what is to be found at the top of the tower are butterflies and that climbing did not make them such.
Once we, like the caterpillars in the story, recognize that the typical ways of living are simply routines that serve no purpose, we abandon them in search of something meaningful. Living outside of the norm can be lonely and surrendering to change is painful. This has always been the lesson of metamorphosis. The additional piece that the Monarch adds is that we can also be royal and divine, and even display that truth externally. However, it is not for the purpose of drawing attention to ourselves but rather to become one with the world around us which we already recognize as divine. In order to fly free, we must each be ready to affirm the belief that “I mean nothing because I am everything.”
I just returned from picking up my children from their father’s house. Though it was my home for fifteen years and feels so familiar, I am no longer attached to it in any way. The house, along with my marriage, are part of who I used to be. I do not regret having experienced any of my past. I know it brought me to the place where I am now. My present is peaceful, powerful and full of hope for the future. However, during this particular visit, as I spent a few moments on my old back porch, something very small happened which caused a deep feeling of unease. I immediately knew that I needed to find time to pause and examine the experience and inner conflict which arose.
As I arrived at my old house today, I noticed a beautiful Luna moth resting on the porch floor. My ex-husband said that the cat had not seen it yet and so it was still alive. I wanted to move the moth to safety and mentioned that but he seemed quite opposed to the idea. Eventually, the cat did find the moth and was about to attack. I instinctively protected it in spite of the tension that I felt I was somehow overstepping my bounds. It was not easy to do this carefully but I did the best I could and walked away.
Somehow, I knew that the imagery of what just occurred was meant to teach me a lesson. The discomfort I felt needed to be examined in order to understand my own hidden beliefs. When I got a chance, I looked up the spiritual meaning of the Luna moth and it was exactly what I expected it to be. It represents following light in the darkness as well as surrendering to a slow, gradual transformation. Some interpretations even say it symbolizes death. My instinct was to protect the moth yet I felt the energy of another who simply wanted to leave it to fate. I felt, from past experience, that I was being viewed as one who was overextending my power and attempting to control a situation. Whether or not this perception was real, I cannot say. All I know is that is what I believed in that moment.
In truth, all I wanted to do was to defend something more vulnerable than me which happens to represent the very essence of my heart and soul. I felt pressure to stand down because of how I may have been perceived but I did not. I acted and then I felt guilty as though I had done something wrong. For a moment, I wondered if the lesson was to stop acting from my gut. Thankfully, I have learned that once we have done our own inner work, all messages are meant to encourage us to embrace who we naturally are.
Soon after returning to my current home, as all of these things were going through my mind, I heard my son say, “Hello, grasshopper.” He found a tiny, green grasshopper which needed to be rescued and put outside. Together, we managed to gently return it to the grass. Then, of course, I looked up the spiritual meaning of a grasshopper. It is said to represent good luck and abundance in moving forward. It is often viewed as an encouragement to listen to your inner wisdom and take a leap. It was then that I realized that I needed to cast out all guilt I felt about protecting the Luna moth and what it symbolizes. Those feelings were from my past and I felt them when I was quite literally standing in the setting of my old life. Once I came home to my new sanctuary, I was encouraged to believe in my mission enough to continue to act.
The Universe speaks to me in the tiniest of moments. I am so grateful that I have learned it’s language. It is always encouraging and positive, affirming who I am and what I am here to do. It is love and it speaks with a resounding, “Yes!” Like the Luna moth, I have had to learn to be drawn to that which illuminates. Things I see in my own shadow are always the things that prevent me from living from my heart, free of fear and guilt. The process of learning this language was painful and definitely worth every minute of suffering. The ultimate lesson in everything is that what lies on the other side of fear is perfect love.
Over the years, I have wondered why people don’t often approach me. I used to feel invisible, small in my physical presence and quite easy to overlook. Then one day someone who knows me very well told me that I am intimidating. It made me laugh because I am quite an unassuming person. I certainly am not bubbly and full of enthusiasm though I am gentle, kind and do my best to see all perspectives rather than judge anyone.
Even though I have always been this way, there have been times when I have tried to exert my power through physical strength or a loud voice. That is what we are all taught to do. What I learned is that it doesn’t work. As an overwhelmed mother, I spent several years trying to carefully structure and manage my children’s lives. It did not feel genuine to me but there were so many rules that must be followed and someone had to make sure they were. I very notably parented my first child that way. He is very stubborn and does not automatically do as he is told. He fights and questions me every time I try to guide him. There is certainly a benefit to his being that way but what he made me realize is that as a tactic to bring about change, control does not work.
What I began to do instead was to ask questions and listen to answers. If my children are behaving in a way that is not appropriate, I ask them what they are feeling and why they are acting that way. Most of the time, we are able to get down to the bottom of the matter and everyone ends up feeling satisfied. The behavior changes and though it takes some time, the results are lasting. We don’t have the same argument again because we gave it enough attention the first time.
In order for me to approach my children this way, I have to be vulnerable. I have to open my heart and acknowledge the fact that I may be wrong. I have to let go of my need to force change and rather try to understand and respect them. Redirecting their behavior often begins with a hug rather than a shouting match.
Growing through the process of learning to be a parent has helped me to understand that my power lies in my sensitivity. When I allow myself to be open and receptive, taking it all in rather than forcing my agenda, I show that I am strong. I believe in the things that I stand for so much that I don’t have to prove them. Unfortunately, some people take this lack of action as callousness. Although my children know me and understand that my quiet presence indicates respect, that is not the norm for most people. Therefore, it can appear that I am being aloof or neglectful. I show my love for others by listening and taking it all in. I remember nearly every single person I meet and can tell you when and where I first met them. What I have had to learn is that other people don’t naturally feel as comfortable with silence and stillness as I do.
As difficult as it is for me to remember, I need to go out of my way to communicate and engage with others to make them feel seen and heard. I need to recognize that different people need different things. Truly caring means that I step outside of my own experience to meet another in theirs. I must be vulnerable enough to express the truth of my heart to complete strangers. Apparently, if I don’t, my tiny little self becomes somewhat scary.
Every time I write something, I look for an image to encapsulate the point I am trying to make. This one may be my favorite so far. To me, it depicts not only the state I am in right now but also the state of the world. We all have a light of love burning within. In order to cast out the pain and suffering of the world right now, we can commit to opening the door to allow more of our own light to shine. The fear, of course, is that someone will blow it out. Yet we know that there is always a spark to light it again. Maybe we will have to go inward and nurture our own light once more. We may have to forgive ourselves for taking a risk and forgive others for rejecting what we offered. Then, once our light is burning brightly, we can try again. That is what life is all about and it is why we are here in this particular moment. There is most certainly enough love to cast out this hate and fear. All we have to do is be brave enough to open our hearts.
This week, as many people set intentions with the new moon, I will be making wishes. Like blowing a dandelion into the wind, I will release my hopes and dreams to the Universe and imagine them as seeds. Believing they will find fertile ground, I will set them free to take root. I will try to trust that someday, somewhere, as I walk through life, unexpected blossoms will catch my eye and I will recognize that I once held their seeds in my hand.
Some seeds seem so precious and full of potential that I can't help but hold onto them. I want to nurture them, whisper to them and give them continual love and encouragement. I forget that they are their own beings, separate from me, and that they need space and time to produce fruit. I want so much to hold the end result that I smother the beginning. I know and see what each seed will produce but I can't, for the life of me, trust that they will develop naturally without my constant attention. Although my mother told me countless times that a watched pot never boils, I keep on watching.
Being intuitive is not as glamorous as it sounds. So many times in my life, I have been fairly certain of something and end up having to wait years for it to come to fruition. There are times when I know something about someone the minute I lay eyes on them. I get a sense or feeling of their inner truth or potential which they may not even recognize themselves. As much as I want to encourage that to grow, I know that the work is not mine. It is easier to encourage children because they are constantly trying to evolve. With adults, I must offer what I have, be patient and trust in what will be. Doing my job is easy, the struggle is in the letting go.
After as much experience as I have had, it would seem that I would trust my knowing. In general, I trust it completely when it comes to what I see for others. I hold such hope for my clients, students, friends and family that I know for certain that they will receive everything they need. When it comes to holding this belief for myself, I doubt. Right now, I believe I know what lies ahead for me. I feel it so palpably that I can almost see and touch it. Yet, I am paralyzed as I wait for it to materialize and I know that is because I am not giving it the space to do so.
My new moon practice this week will not be to set intentions of things I will work toward this month. Instead, in true Gemini form, I will blow seeds to the wind. I will write my wishes down and burn them. I will hold out my hands and say, "Take this from me. I can't hold it anymore." I will trust the air to carry it and feel my burden lighten. I know that if I do this, all that I am waiting for will make it's way to me in perfect time, effortlessly.
It's 3:00 am and I just woke from a dream. In my dream, I was looking at old advertisements and thinking that something I wanted couldn't possibly exist in my current time and place. After digging a bit further, I found out it actually did. Somehow this dream led me to answer a question that has plagued me all of my life: Does fate decide us or do we decide fate?
I've always read signs. Like breadcrumbs, I follow them to a destination and am amazed at how perfectly the path has been laid. Yet, I can't help but notice after all of these years, that the signs seem to be leading me back to where I began. The further I go, the more I realize that what I really need to find are the things I've left behind. I become confused. Am I heading forward or backward? Is my internal compass broken?
When one becomes a student of energy, he/she inevitably ends up learning about manifesting. It is the practice of putting energy into a desired result and waiting for it to come to fruition. The process is just as much about intention or belief as it is about action. We instinctively act on what we believe to be true and in so doing, we bring about the desired result. What has always confused me about manifesting is that I don't understand the difference between knowing something ahead of time (intuiting) and bringing it about with intention (manifesting.) It is like the old chicken and egg question that boggles my mind.
The more connected to the Divine I become, the more I realize there are no answers, only questions. The realm of Spirit is never black or white. It is gray. That is why religious stories pose questions and are told in parables. That is why we can't paint a clear picture of God in our mind. God cannot be defined. God is mystery. If we want to be connected to God, we must learn to dwell in uncertainty.
As for fate and the breadcrumb trail, my middle of the night “ah-ha" moment has led me to a new understanding. I believe we are active participants in deciding our fate which is predetermined at birth. It makes no sense, therefore, it must be true. If we are aware enough to recognize the signs that point us in the right direction, we realize they are simply the things that make our souls happy. The more we know ourselves, the more likely it is that fate will ultimately join our end to our beginning. Likewise, the more in tune we are with our own energy, the more likely it is that the world around us will seem to effortlessly manifest our bliss.
Sometimes things just fall into place perfectly. Without thinking about it, we say “yes” to a current and it carries us to the exact place we need to be. We recognize it not because the final outcome is overly extraordinary but because the pieces fit together so well. We follow our feet and they simply carry us to the next leg of the journey. Every one of us has a guide that knows exactly where we should go.
At a time in my life when my wheels were spinning and I was getting nowhere, a close friend asked, “Do you know anyone out west you could visit?” I had been wanting to visit my aunt in Tucson so I booked a flight on a whim. While I was there, we took a road trip to Sedona and spent hours hiking in search of a particular spot that was special to her. Just as we were about to leave, we found it. The next week when I was home and back in my routine, I pulled a random book off the shelf in the library. I realized I knew the author. She was a local shaman whose daughter had attended the school where I taught. Later that week when I was reading the book, it referred to a particular spot in Sedona that appeared to her the first time she meditated. It was the magical spot my aunt and I had found that day.
The story doesn’t end there but as I am writing, I realize that the details are not what makes an impression. The miraculous thing about it is that I was naturally receiving everything I didn’t even know I needed. I booked an appointment with the shaman and saw my own potential in her. My renewed relationship with my aunt became one of my only sources of support as I grieved the loss of an old life and actively created a new one. All of this happened because I said, “Why not?”
I have felt currents of flow which have been intense and addicting. There was a time when every song I heard on a four hour car ride spoke to my soul as though the universe was communicating with me directly. As I allowed myself to remain in that high, I nearly lost my mind quite a few times. I had to learn the importance of grounding in the moment. At points, it takes all of the strength I have to find what is right under my nose. Sometimes I have to narrate what is actually happening as I am drifting off: “I am getting laundry out of the dryer. I am putting it in a basket. I am carrying the basket to my room.” Just the conscious awareness of physical reality brings me back down to Earth.
The sweet spot is in the middle. There is a place between Heaven and Earth where we can reside and experience absolute perfection. Buddhists refer to it as the middle way. It requires awareness and letting go of a particular expectation as we recognize impermanence. I think of this place as a spot within each of us. Of the seven main chakras, the lower three allow us to have a more physical experience while the upper three give us a more universal or spiritual experience. The heart is what connects the two in the center.
Living a life centered in love, we say “yes” to every experience. In everything, we find something that holds hope and propels us forward. In the darkest times, there is always a tiny spark of light to be found. All we need to do is recognize it, focus on it and move forward. The current of love will always take us where we need to go. When we choose to embrace whatever comes our way, we find a perfect path where every step is a miracle.
This morning I woke hearing a message from the universe. It said, “ I will meet all of your needs, Shawna. All you have to do is receive.” I knew instantly that this truth soaked into me overnight, as I felt the pull of the moon so potently I could barely sleep. The moon represents feminine energy. She shines not because she toils to do so. She simply receives the light and reflects it back, illuminating the darkness.
I spent much of my life toiling. I felt I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders until one day, it was too much to bear. I had to put it all down. When I did this, I began to transform. I connected to something powerful and terrifying which lit up the darkest parts of me. I began to have very vivid dreams, one of the first being about the arrival of a goddess named Luna. And this goddess said only one thing, in a whisper so powerful that it shook me to the core. She said my name.
The years that followed were both painful and beautiful. In my dream, Luna announced the dawning of a new era of life for me. During this time, I existed in the dark and allowed the light to reflect off of me, illuminating deep craters of past trauma. I saw them and recognized their pain. I decided to wear them proudly, like battle scars, knowing I could never make them go away. This process took years of my life but in the end I realized the only way to achieve anything is to simply accept it.
There is a reason that the moon governs the flow of the tide. She doesn’t resist phases and change. She accepts that every day is different and she is wise enough to know that cycles repeat in perfect time. She doesn’t fight transformation, she embraces it. The ocean feels her pull and reflects its own rhythm, ever changing yet keeping a perfect pace.
It is time for all of us to simply receive. Receiving is paradoxically painful because it requires an inaction that feels vulnerable and uncomfortable. It requires a trust in the giver, whom we cannot see. It also requires flexibility and bravery in order to be able to accept what is given, unconditionally and gratefully. We must know that even if the gift doesn’t live up to our own expectations, the giver knows what is best for us.
I sit here in wait along with much of the world. Even though I know gifts are coming and believe this with all of my being, I needed a reminder this morning. To me, these days feel like Christmas. I want to rush down the stairs and see what is waiting under the tree. It’s still dark outside and my parents said I had to wait until morning. It will come. It always does.