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Where do you find your inspiration?

Art: Inspiration scifi art for writers

Here’s where I found my inspiration this morning… I booted up the computer to an inspirational video from the gig on the big project I’m working on.

It came from the initial research I did back in January and February. It is amazing to see how things start and where they end up, how it progresses. I think the same can be said for any project, gig or effort in life.

It often starts with the mundane steps. Though “mundane” or “boring” is a story we tell ourselves. In this case, I spent days in the archives (physically and online), and I found an amazing book and researched it as well. Now this brilliant video has been created out of that research by a lot of smart, creative folks, and I can’t wait to share with everyone! It’s one of those things where I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This whole process is a great reminder for life and for all things. Like building my coaching practice, building my business, being an entrepreneur or starting any dream. It first starts from the foundational work, the basics, consistent practice and dedication to showing up.

By showing up, day after day, the magic happens. You can have the magic when you do the work to allow it to happen. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Grief, the rinse and repeat gift

I just finished listening to a great podcast on grief, betrayal, loss and disappointment by master coach Susan Hyatt.  It was a good reminder for me this morning. I wanted to share it as it could be a good resource for you too.

I’m a life coach, but I can only do this kind of work and help my clients if I help myself first. I’ve done a lot of work in this area for myself and have helped my clients, such as those grieving the death of a child, their spouse and also working through betrayal and divorce. Yet I can also use helpful reminders from others, and I hire coaches myself.

Life it to give it. Do the work.

It’s interesting because I literally now am writing this blog post for the third time as the computer ate it twice. I think that is a great analogy for the grieving process. You go through it in stages, at different times. Life hands you the opportunity to revisit it and go deeper, through a new grieving opportunity.

It sounds weird to call it a grieving opportunity, but really, that’s what it is. Even when you graduate college, or get your masters, there is still more to learn, right? You are never done learning in life. Same here. To me it’s along the idea of a life lesson, and that we are souls in a human body, here to go to a soul school – life.

I am experiencing something that is definitely a “live it to give it” opportunity as we say in coach-speak. About a month ago, my dear friend of 25 years died, and I have been grieving his loss. In the last few years, there was something that came between us, and that makes for a more difficult grieving process and possible lack of the illusive “closure,” even though he was still my dear friend when he died.

There also was not an official ceremony, and I am a big believer in ceremony. Normally I would light a candle myself, pray, relight the candle for a period of days, pray some more. Yet this time when I learned of his death, I was literally on my way out of town. I believe today will be the day for my own ceremony. It’s a grey, rainy day, and the feel of it fits for me. I go by “feel” a lot as an empath.

I also am a clairvoyant/medium, and that provides me with another opportunity for working with my grief when someone I love crosses over. Yet it is still necessary to do this kind of work. Susan’s questions are similar questions I ask myself and similar to the work I do. She include a mantra that I am going to work with in this situation. It is a beautiful mantra, and you may listen to her podcast to learn more.

The other thing about grief is that fresh grief brings up the opportunity to look at other grief. There’s been more for me even just this past year….another friend who died in November, dear friends of 25 years moving to another state (final move was last week), quitting my job a year ago January when my Mom was in the hospital (and more related to that, Mom is fine), losing another gig before it started, illness of my cat, something about a man, etc. This has been quite a year. I have forgiven where that was needed, done that work, yet there is always room for more.

I also have gained so much – like a fabulous new public policy gig that I love, with people that I love, that also gives me the opportunity to begin to really work on my coaching practice and business. I believe there is a reason for everything, even when it does not make sense at the time.

It’s o.k. to pause and give yourself a moment. It’s o.k. to be sad or angry or hurt. Grief happens in its own unique time, and it is different for everyone – just like the pattern of every snowflake is unique. I think as a coach sometimes I focus on story fondling so much – i.e. not to do it – that sometimes I may not give myself enough time, allow myself to be a human, in a human body, having this experience.

I realized last week in grieving my friend’s death and doing the work with a coach, that it raised some things that I have worked on before, to give me the opportunity to go much deeper. Yes, “opportunity.” I mean that sincerely. Opportunity like this isn’t fun, but it’s always good/necessary. Over the last three years, I lost quite a few very dear, close friends, definitely in the manner of betrayal, tied into a former spiritual organization. It was a loss, yet it was also a blessing.

My life is much better now that they are gone, and I am so grateful for that – grateful that they are no longer in my life, that I can “see” and that I have the opportunity to do this work. I am also grateful for the lessons that I learned and what their presence in my life taught me along the way. Yet despite that gratitude, I realized that there is still hurt, sadness and anger at their betrayal and behavior to look at again. Anger is a stage of grief, and it serves as a mask for the root emotions underneath. Susan’s questions in her podcast are similar to ones I have asked myself in similar situations. Her mantra gives a great way to address this, and I intend to work with it here as well.

Last week when Susan put out this podcast, I knew I *had* to listen to it – definitely what I call a synchronicity or a meaningful coincidence. Some folks call them God Winks. Whatever the name, personally I find it is my higher self, my soul self, trying to get me to listen, to go back to school. I finally listened to it, and it’s awesome! I listened to it twice.

Time to rinse and repeat.

For any of you who are experiencing grief, loss or betrayal, this would be a great 10 minutes or less of your life.

Feelings, Emotions & Empaths

Feelings. Sometimes the word scares people. Oh no, that person expresses emotions, they have feelings! Then the judgment sets in. The dreaded they’re too “emotional.” I’ve had others tell me that emotions scare them, that they can’t handle emotions. I’ve heard others described as being too “emotional” or even had myself described that way. But what does that all mean?

What does that mean to not be able to handle emotions? To me it speaks of not being able to handle the emotions within ourselves, first and foremost. If we can’t process our own emotions, how can we handle the emotions of others? It is harder for us to process emotions of others because we can’t process our own.

And more than that, the emotions or feelings of others are not expressed to us always in a state of unconditional love – they can come with strings, with rules, with requirements and expectations and an effort to control us and mold us into what someone else wants. It is not accepting of who and what we are. It seeks to change us. So we can become trained to expect emotions and feelings to come with all that other “stuff” – and that feels bad. True emotion and feelings, when shared without all the added “stuff” or stories and manipulations is such a beautiful gift to share with someone.

But if you’ve never had that, how else are you going to react? What else are you going to expect? Experiencing unconditional love is quite a powerful experience, especially when you receive it romantically for the first time, and learning what it’s like, what it feels like. Pretty incredible stuff.

Many times in our lives the emotions of others may be expressed in an effort to manipulate us, to change us, to get us to be or do what someone else wants. Once you have experienced that over and over, it becomes harder to trust in the idea of unconditional love, and cleanly expressed emotions. Maybe you’ve never even had that experience. Or maybe you’re experiencing it for the first time.

Yet much of the fear and inability to handle emotions is really from the feelings inside yourself that you fear to face. What will you see if you do look within, if you let the emotions out? What have you not yet processed and healed inside of yourself? What betrayal, hurt or loss are you masking and holding on to? What are you using to stop yourself from feeling again as a buffer to keep the pain from happening again? What story are you creating about that betrayal and pain? What are you making it mean in your life?

It makes me think of cognitive behavior therapy and experiments with rats – if you keep getting shocked over and over, you expect the same thing to happen again. It becomes automatic as an initial response. You no longer respond, you react.

Sometimes it’s subconscious, and you don’t even know you’re doing it.

As an empath, I have the privilege, and yes, sometimes the burden, of being able to “read between the lines” and see, hear, know and feel what the other person is feeling on a subconscious level. It makes me a great friend and beloved (and really helps with my coaching and other work). It also comes with its own challenges. The challenge is in being able to see it and feel it all and yet still respond to the person on the surface of what they are saying, to meet them with where they are at, with what they acknowledge to themselves – not with all the feelings and things they can’t see yet themselves.

What are you afraid you will see when you look through the mirror of someone else expressing their emotions or feelings? What makes you uncomfortable in that mirror?

What are you making it mean that someone else is expressing their emotions, sharing them with you, sharing their feelings with you? How are you receiving those feelings? Is it with a clear vessel, or is there other gunk in there clogging up the works and tinging the water, dirtying up the clean flow of emotion and feeling?

When others have feelings for us or share their feelings in general with us, or express their emotions to us, it can be scary. Yet emotions in and of themselves are healthy, beautiful and powerful. They can be intense, and that’s o.k. too. Things can be felt deeply. We can be moved. We can move mountains.

When you’re an empath like I am, it’s even more so. Then when you put two empaths together, the energy spirals. It is an amazing thing. You feel your emotions, you feel the emotions of the other person, and you feel the other person feeling your emotions and get that back. Likewise, the other person feels what you’re feeling, and they feel their own feelings back that you’re feeling of their feelings, and so on. It’s like a circuit where the energy increases as it goes around and spirals up.

That connection is palpable. It is somewhat akin to the idea Dion Fortune talked about in psychic and channeling work. She said that when working with someone else who has the same skills, it’s like having a battery added to the mix. She routinely worked with a partner in doing the work. You will also find magickal workers through time who work with a partner, particularly a spouse or beloved due to that increased connection. It increases and amps up the frequency and power of the work.

It also reminds me of the infinite reflection of mirrors within mirrors. It is the most incredible spiraling dance. It is intense, beautiful and powerful. Being aware of it, having awareness of it, is important. And when you do it with a clear vessel, the sky is the limit to the heights you can reach together, in stable flight. It reminds me of Eagle. Eagle is an ally and also is the highest expression of my sun and ascendant sign, Scorpio.

Emotions are positive, even the ones where we’re sad or mad. Those emotions or feeling states are healthy too – it’s o.k. The idea is not to stop ever having them again or to stop them up and end the flow. Let them flow cleanly. Not attaching to them, but honoring them, letting them flow and then continuing on.

Some have trouble doing that. There were times in my life where the intensity of being an empath was something I didn’t understand. Where I did not have discernment of what were my feelings and what were other than me. I was attached to the emotions, the feelings or to someone else. Having that discernment years ago made a huge life shift for me, with the most amazing gifts, and I’ve been able to pass that on to others. I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to explore it yet in a romantic relationship, but what I have been able to experience has been powerful.

Emotions can become unhealthy when we use our emotions and the power of our words to hurt someone else. To make them change. To manipulate them to do what we want. To use our love with conditions – I won’t love you or I won’t be your friend unless you do what I want, unless you change this, unless you bend to my will.

Emotions are unhealthy when we make our life dependent, or our feelings dependent, on what someone does or says. Wanting companionship and support, it is beautiful. When we take that to a standpoint of need of the level of neediness, it becomes unhealthy – “I will only be o.k. if she does this. Or, “I will only be o.k. if he does that.”

You can still be happy. You can still want it. But you are o.k. with yourself and with the other person the way they are. You don’t need them to change, and you don’t need yourself to change, to be o.k. and to be happy in your life. That level of need is not love. It doesn’t leave room for free choice, for following ones true will and for having respect and unconditional love for that other person. It also does not have respect for nor love for yourself. As within so without.

Unconditional love allows for the expression of feelings, sharing and showing healthy emotions and feelings, and that allows for intimacy between two people – be they friends or lovers. When I say “love”, this can be any type of love. Friendship, sisterhood, brotherhood, romantic love, parental love.

Unconditional love is a powerful thing. Yet it also just as importantly allows for non-judgment and detachment. And this is an incredible thing of beauty! If you’re in a relationship with a friend or lover, the idea of “detachment” doesn’t mean that you don’t care. Quite the contrary. It is not detachment from the standpoint of not having feelings. Instead, detachment is having love without conditions. It is having complete respect and value for the other person.

Detachment is…I love you for who you are without seeking to change you. I love you. I want you. I don’t need you to complete me. I don’t need you to fulfill some fantasy or expectation of who and what I want in my life. I am not attached to you. I won’t only love you if you do or are X Y or Z. I just want to share my love with you. I want to share my love for myself, for everything around me, and for you…just the way you are. I want to share my happiness and joy with you. And I love you more in return for loving me for just the way I am, for all of who I am.

To receive that love in return is something so amazing. You can have it with friends, family, lovers, spiritual connections – you can find it in many places. To experience total acceptance for who you are, to be appreciated and loved for who you are, with no conditions is the most incredible gift to receive.

In my life I’ve had this from family, from dear sisters, brothers and friends. I’ve also experienced it once recently from a man who has become dear to me, as a friend and whatever the thing is. He accepts me for who and what I am. He is curious about me, interested in me, for who I am, not who he might want me to be. He respects my yes and my no. Just as I respect his yes and his no.

Feeling cared about without conditions? That’s pretty amazing. It’s beautiful. And yeah, so it’s hot too. Because being able to do that for someone else, means that you’re in a place inside to do it for yourself first, at least to some regard. And that’s attractive. As within, so without.

Does this mean that everything in life or in a friendship or any type of relationship is automatically easy? Of course not. Does it mean that there is never sadness? No, I mean, what would life be if it was all painted with one color on the palette? Does it mean that there can never be pain? No. But it does means the pain is “clean” pain and not dirty pain with all our stories added into it, creating more suffering for ourselves and our loved ones or beloved.

We seek understanding, and we have respect for all of creation. We do not make assumptions, we do not take things personally, we use our word impeccably, and we always do our best in each situation and in each moment. (Yes, The Four Agreements, with much love and gratitude to don Miguel Ruiz and his family.)

Does this mean that we accept everything and everyone into our lives? No. It doesn’t. Sometimes my no may not work with your yes, and vice versa, and that’s o.k. It’s not personal. We can honor our boundaries and what is healthy for us while still holding that space of unconditional love.

It doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but it’s always worth it. And it’s always beautiful. After all, it’s magick.

Family & Farm Lore of the Civil War Era

This is a series of vignettes told to me as a little girl as it tied into the Civil War near our family “Century” farm in Northeast Missouri. Last night my parents shared something with me, a piece of cultural history from 140 years ago in the form of an article from a town near where my Mom grew up.

A newspaper article from 140 years ago prompted many memories of stories I heard while visiting the farm as a young girl. I am sharing the article, and also the stories, because I think the more things are illuminated on how they used to be, the inhumane and bad things that happened, the more can be healed by shining the light, and the more chance we have of not repeating horrific events as a society.

It is also why I have spent time visiting concentration camps in Austria and Poland and also Russian “camps” in Hungary when on vacation and other sites of atrocities. Honor those who have walked before, those who have walked in footsteps that we can never truly understand, sending healing, and sharing their stories.

I called my Mom this morning to speak with her about these stories from the Civil War and related farm lore and to have her refresh my memory on some of the details. Then I followed up with a little more research online to share as well.

Our Family “Century” Farm

Our family farm is in Northeast Missouri. It has been in the family over 100 years, since 1902, on my Mom’s Henderson side of the family. My mom Joyce Henderson Bilderback married Roger Bilderback, and they own our farm. Our ancestors on my mom’s side are buried in the area, and we regularly visit the cemeteries to place flowers on the graves, which really is a type of offering. When I walk our land, the ancestors walk with me. Their presence is so thick, and it is a presence of love and support and of gratitude for what we do to give back to the land and the area.

My Family’s Civil War Dead, Union Soldiers

One of our dead buried at a local cemetery there is David L. Wilkins, who fought with his brothers on the side of the Union during the Civil War, including Gettysburg, along with other locations. They all made it out of the war alive and went on to raise families. He is my Great Great Grandfather on my Great Grandmother Mae Willa Wilkins Northcraft’s side – he was my Great Grandma Mae’s father. She was a Wilkins before she married James Northcraft.

Newark Skirmish/Fighting

There were Civil War battles that took place near our farm, including in Newark, Missouri. There is a very old home there with bullet holes from that time that my Mom showed me as a little girl. It is still there.

The Palmyra Massacre

Palmyra is also near our family farm. It was the location of the Palmyra Missouri Massacre. There is an old hardback book by that name, which was my grandma’s and that my mom now has, which contains the first account of what happened. It has more details than you can find on the internet, and I will share some of them in this story, though for the story of what lead up to the massacre, you may visit HERE, which also contains links about Missouri slavery and the Civil War.

There were 10 Confederate prisoners in jail who were to be shot the next day on the town square in a firing squad due to the disappearance and presumed death of a Union sympathizer who had reported on numerous Confederate sympathizers. It was a threat and an act of revenge on the Union side, as it was reported, for the presumed killing of this Union sympathizer. This was an area of the country where there were those on both sides of the war – neighbor against neighbor. It reminds me of what I saw in Croatia, and the stories our Polish and Hungarian guides told us as they pointed it out, where some homes had bullet holes and others did not, as neighbors turned against neighbors there as well.

Here is the story that has been told of the Palmyra Massacre, as is outlined in the book… The wife of one of the Confederate prisoners that was to be shot the next morning in the town square by the Union side, had a large family, and she went to plead to get her husband released so he would not be shot. She gave a sexual favor in return. A young man around 20 years old and single volunteered to take this man’s place – Hiriam Smith (or Hiram or Hiran). The husband was released and the young man was shot on the town square with the other men/prisoners.

My Mom remembered his name was Hiriam Smith (she gave me that spelling), and I want to read the book to get the facts straight, as another website link talks about Hiriam Smith, but not in a way that he volunteered to take the other man’s place. He is buried somewhere in that area, and we had previously looked for the cemetery but still have not found it. It is in Lewis County. Mom says the book outlined the story as I presented it above.

Here is his story according to a genealogy website, which does say that Hiram took the place (though does not mention his “volunteering” to take the man’s place as it does in the book) of the other Confederate man/prisoner to be killed:

“Hiram Smith (Confederate) – Enlisted as Private into B Company, 10th Cavalry (Missouri)
Note Spelling of name Hiram instead of Hiran
Scarcely 22 years old.
He was the replacement for William T. Humphrey’s (wife Mary) who was freed.
Buried in little cemetery in Lewis County.
A headstone was erected by Senator George W. Humphreys the son of William.
The headstone reads:
Hiram Smith
This Monument is Dedicated to the Memory of Hiram Smith
Who was Shot at Palmyra, Oct. 18, 1862
As a Substitute for William T. Humphrey, My Father src#3”

It is interesting because this monument described above, that was erected to Hiram Smith, was erected at the behest of the grown child of the man who was saved through his act of volunteering to be a substitute so his/her father might live instead.

This account of the woman and the release of the husband upon substitution for a volunteer may be found in the book, yet Wiki gives a different account of it, which is not wholly accurate based on eye witness accounts in the book:

“After the massacre, it has been claimed that Strachan spared the life of one of the intended victims (William Thomas Humphrey of Lewis County) in exchange for $500 paid by Humphrey’s wife. Strachan is also said to have violated the chastity of Mrs. Humphrey, whether as part of the bargain or not. (Capt. Griffin Frost, quoted by Joseph A. Mudd, “With Porter in Northeast Missouri”). In 1864 Strachan was tried for the rape of Mrs. Humphrey and other offences, including misuse of funds. Found innocent of rape but guilty of embezzlement, he was sentenced to prison and was released by General William Starke Rosecrans on the grounds of persecution and an unfair trial, even though his accuser was another Union officer.”

Note that in this account above, there was a bribe and also alleged rape of the wife seeking her husband’s release and no mention of the volunteer. That time still had a culture of repression of women, so her story could have been she gave the favor or that she was forced into it to get her husband back, and even if she submitted to it, did she really have a choice? Back then rape would have been very hard to prove, and the idea that he was even tried for it speaks volumes.

In addition, to the victor goes the spoils and also the rewriting of history, and since the “volunteer” who took the Confederate prisoner’s place was also on the Confederate side, the newspaper accounts of that day or official military reports from the Union army would likely not have promoted that version that the young man “volunteered” to do it, as it would make a Confederate out to be a hero. I tend to believe the account in the book, and I also step out of the which side who was on viewpoint…to look at this as an individual young boy who was caught up fighting in a war, and did something heroic at the end of his life to spare the life of someone else on a basic human level.

The Washburn Story and Servant/Farmhand Quarters

This is another story of what I saw growing up and visiting the farm. There is the Washburn property, where they built a large brick mansion. They were wealthy and had extensive farm ground as considered for the times. When my mom was a little girl, she used to call on the Washburn family with her mother. My mom’s family was not wealthy yet they did visit and were welcomed. My grandma Hendrson on my mom’s side was an amazing woman in general – loving, hard-working.

When I was a little girl going to the farm from Peoria with my parents for vacations, before we moved to St. Louis in fourth grade, we would pass by the Washburn property on the way there. On the edge of the property along the road, there were small quarters. They were for the farmhands who worked the land. I had asked if they were slaves, and they were not. Though I am left to wonder if their pay was very good and I am also left to wonder as to their true ability to make something of their lives and thus be able to move on if they chose to do so. I always wondered as a little girl how they could live in houses that were so small because they were the size of a room.

At some point as the structures were falling down, they were bulldozed down. The house and land are now owned by someone different as the last woman in the family to live there died. I was given a tour of the home several years ago. The furniture and everything is just as it was left, though in some disarray.

Lots of ancestors, stories, lore and history.

The Edina Sentinel Story – Black Man Threatened 140 years ago

This is why I am writing this blog post today, what inspired it, and it also was the impetus for the ancestors to ask for the stories above to be shared. There is a newspaper, The Edina Sentinel, which is still published today. Edina is the Knox County seat where the County Courthouse is located. In each newspaper, they publish articles from years ago. Last night Dad gave me one that had articles from 140 years ago, as published originally on Feb. 17 1876. There is nothing like seeing history in print to bring home how disturbing it actually was/is.

In this article, you will note that none of the white mob that went to this black man’s house were mentioned by name in the paper, and that the white women were degraded for living with him, and of course there was no justice for the black man who was threatened…

“Threatened – Jack Smith (colored), living about one mile northwest of Edina, reports that on Saturday night last, some eight or ten persons came to his house, called him out, and threatened to kill him and his son, a young man of some 22 or 23 summers, if they did not run off two white women that were living with them. Jack, being somewhat scared, promised to obey all commands. They then retired in good order to their homes. It seems that two women (white), one calling herself Sarah Hale, and the other Mary Harman (reported hard characters) went to Jack’s house some five weeks ago and had since been resting there in peace and quietude. We understand that on Monday last Jack was in town making arrangements for their shipment north.”

My parents also told me that maybe a week or so ago, an article was published from the same time period that talked about a black man being sold for one dollar on the Knox County Courthouse steps, stating that his owner sold him because he was “lazy.”

Wow. I mean, who has words for that?

I think it is important that a paper like the Edina Sentinel makes old history living again, so we always remember and never forget. When I read and see these things, and though I know it all happened, there is still that part of me that is always in shock all over again that people can do this to others – racism, religious intolerance, war. And yet it happens all over the world, in different guises, throughout history and into current day.

The more we are aware of history, the more chance we have of not repeating it.

Listen to the ancestors. They have stories to tell.

Change is Magic

Daffodils (Getty)

Daffodils (Getty)

Change is magic. It brings the hint of a fresh breeze on the air. The shifting of the seasons has so much power to help us make changes in our own lives.

I feel the energy of spring starting in early February, as the daffodils have sprung from the earth and the crocus make their appearance. Even through the snow that may be on the ground, they find their way, pushing through the soil. It is a time of new beginnings as the sun begins to warm the earth, melting the snow and ice, nourishing the land for the flowers to come.

It is similar with us and winter, if we take the time to work with the energy of the season and the change between seasons. In winter, we spend time indoors. We can use this time to go within ourselves. Look at our life. What do we want to change? What do we no longer need to hang onto? Clean out that closet, that drawer, that file, including the file of limiting beliefs in our mind…look at our life and what no longer serves.

There is still time yet. What can you gently release from your life to make room for new growth to come? What do you seek to create in your life in its place? Plant the seed of that intention, that Intent, in your mind.

A few weeks ago, I sold two pieces of furniture, antiques. I had them for a long time. I loved them, but I needed more space in my house, so I advertised them for half of their value and what I paid for them.

First I sold the armoire. It was unique – an English, walnut, knockdown wardrobe. Gorgeous. A couple who had left a western state came here with hardly any furniture. They bought an older house in North County, and they love antiques. Their house did not have enough closets. They came and got it with a friend, and they were so happy!!

The second one is an even better story. It was a beautiful lime green, velvet, full size Victorian sofa. A delightful young couple came. She had just bought her first home in the City. They were so cute! They had specifically been looking for a “lime green velvet Victorian sofa!” What are the odds, right?

I call this a synchronicity, a meaningful coincidence. To me synchronicities are like the breadcrumbs of life, giving us clues to the right path.

I had a friend at my house on both occasions so I wouldn’t be alone, and praised her for bringing her boyfriend. They only had a loveseat and were sharing that to watch t.v., so I told them to lay down, test it out. Seeing those two curled up on the sofa was too cute for words! Then, her Dad came with his truck. Just like my Dad did to get the sofa from the antique store for me, and has so many times for me in my life. They carried it out in the snow. For some reason, both of their plans had changed, and they were free to come that night. I love it when a plan comes together!

After this, several things began to happen, more things came into my life and others began to shift in both little ways and big ways. When you catch this flow of energy, it’s almost like what some might call a lucky streak. But I don’t believe in luck. I believe in magic. Here’s what happened so far…

  • I had this amazing opportunity for a three hour meeting with a writer interested in my work, and they attended an event that I threw as well.
  • I had a great meeting with someone that may have a political position for me.
  • I also had an interview for a new gig, and got the second interview while still on the phone on the first interview.
  • I realized before any warning lights came on that there was something wrong with my car and got it taken care of before it was a problem.
  • I received a check for the first time ever from my mortgage company for an escrow surplus that was almost the size of a mortgage payment.
  • An old thing hanging out there was resolved to my benefit and satisfaction.
  • Things shifted back to the better with a man I’m interested in.
  • My health began to shift for the better.
  • My Mom’s health continues to improve.
  • And I got carded. (Had to include that!)

Change is magic. When things change, magic happens in your life. It happens in little ways and big ways. It releases the flow of energy. Energy wants to flow, it doesn’t want to be stopped. Yes, it doesn’t want to be forced or pushed, and it may want to be eased or gently started to keep that balance in the process of change, but it does want to flow.

Change is good! I promise. Sometimes you may not immediately see it, but it always is. It opens so many amazing doors and brings such gifts when you gently release the old to welcome in the new blessings!

Release what does not serve. Let go attachment. Release that energy to flow. State your intention or Intent for the blessings you want to come in your life. Allow the movement. Release attachment to outcome. Let it flow.

Enjoy the magic.

 

The Present Moment – Lessons Learned from the Range

Present moment. We don’t have the future in this moment. We don’t have the past. We have the present. We have now.

Thinking about the future beyond what we need to do for our lives, creates worry. Worry wastes our valuable energy. Thinking about and replaying the past, perhaps reliving and beating ourselves up over things that have happened or things we would have done differently, or what we feel someone else has done to us or should have done differently, “should’ing” all over ourselves, causes needless suffering. We are the only animal that beats ourselves up over our past mistakes. If an animal makes that mistake, they move on – they are in the present moment.

When I’m shooting, it is very much an exercise in staying in the present moment. My meditative skills help my shooting. My shooting, conversely, helps further train my mind and thoughts to stay in the present moment. Sometimes I feel that my shooting is even a greater help in this regard than my daily morning yoga practice. Completely different feel to both, but absolutely the same ideas in play.

When you have a firearm in your hands, you can’t be thinking about what did or didn’t happen at work, what things you need to get done on your to-do list or how behind you feel in all of the things you want to get done. There is too much responsibility that comes with holding something in your hand that has such physical power. And there are too many little things to focus on to bring it all together for the shot to go off safely and on target.

Focus is absolutely required when shooting a firearm. It requires the right preparation, the right grip, a gentle and constant press on the trigger, and when the round breaks from the gun, you’re still not done – it requires proper follow through to make sure you’re set up for the next shot and that you don’t get in the bad habit of moving the gun too soon and throwing off your shot.

It reminds me of Hunt Seat in college, where I was jumping fences. When you got over the jump, you immediately turned your head and eyes to where you wanted to go, where you wanted the horse to go. You focus on where you want to go, and nothing else. Same thing here. You keep your focus on where you want the shot to go, keeping your sights aligned on target and gentle consistent movement. (By the way, I adored jumping and hope to get back into it again at some point, but one new thing at a time!)

The first time I shot my Glock 43, was at the end of the NRA pistol safety training at the range on July 24. It was an eight hour class, four hours on two nights. This was our second night. We had shot .22 caliber semi-automatics, and that was great and went well. There definitely was an adrenaline rush, which I have to say, is quite nice. It does something for me. Oddly, I also like the smell and what happens when a shot goes off. I also don’t mind getting my hands dirty, but I always was a bit of a tomboy as a child.

The difference between shooting a .22 and a 9 mm, particularly when you had never shot a pistol before like me, is a big difference. After the rounds with the .22, my instructor had us get out my own gun, and he helped me with it. He coached me through shooting my first six rounds from my own gun that night. He started off by telling me that we would try two rounds, and if it scared me that we would stop and put the gun away as he did not want that to ruin me for shooting in the future.

There really is that big of a difference in the sound, the feel, the pressure of the trigger, the recoil, vibration and the sheer power of the gun. He asked me if it would be better if he did it first or if I would be o.k. to do it myself first. I said I didn’t think it would make a difference either way, and he said to definitely be the first to shoot my own gun then.

When I went to shoot the first round (and each subsequent round), he reminded me about staying in the present moment. Align your sights, press gently, take the slack out of the trigger, press, press, press, it will go off when it goes off, press, press…

Bam!

Wow. Now that? That. That was something else! It totally made my socks go up and down, lol, as an old co-worker used to say.

He told me I wasn’t afraid of it; he was quite pleased. I was super pleased, though my eyes were probably a little glazed over by then.

Then he taught me to mimic a stronger grip by a push pull with my two hands on the pistol. Second round. Very nice. By the time we were done with six rounds, time was so fast and so slow at the same time. There was nothing but that moment, in that stall, in this weird communion with my pistol, and hearing his voice. If my mind would try to think or anticipate the shot, I heard his voice.

Gods I loved everything about it! Absolutely. Everything.

You’re supposed to be surprised when the shot breaks from the pistol. Why? If you anticipate the shot, you can end up pulling the trigger faster, or you might move the pistol early, misalign your sights and shoot off target. .

Stay in the present moment. Don’t rush. It will happen when it happens. Be patient.

Well, I haven’t always been the most patient person in the world. When I was in high school, I used to joke with my friend about my “id” taking over. “Id” was Sigmund Freud’s psychological term for the part of the self that wants immediate gratification and has a great focus on the physical and the subconscious.

I’m a true Scorpio girl, so the idea of immediate gratification is a natural home base for me, though a rather un-evolved base if I stayed there all the time, lol. But this idea of patience really works for me in shooting. Again a great metaphor and lesson for life. Patience is a virtue, which also was a focus of our work when I was in Job’s Daughters (a Masonic organization for girls).

All happens in its own time.

To me this also is the idea of not having expectations. So many times we have expectations of ourselves and of others. Expectations create conditions. We have conditions on our love, even on our love for ourselves. i.e. “I’ll only love myself if XYZ,” and insert your poison there. Conditions versus unconditional love.

Having expectations creates unhappiness. Being free of expectations leaves us free to be who we are, and it frees others to be who they are.  It leaves us free to love ourselves and to be happy, living our life fully in each moment. Taking our time, squeezing all the sweet juices out of life and savoring it. Taking time to press the trigger, gently, slowly and enjoying the shot when it happens, in its own time.

Anticipating the shot, what it will be like, when it’s going to go off, all of that is having expectations, which throws off your aim and your shot. Another lesson and a great reinforcement for how I choose to live my life – stay in the moment, do not have expectations and don’t take anything personally. What others do or do not do has nothing to do with you. It is about them.

Your expectations create a story about how someone else’s actions are about you. They are not about you. The gun doesn’t care about your story. You use your expectations to create chains around yourself and around someone else. Release your expectations and you find freedom, and happiness in that freedom.

I started taking private lessons, and I have only had one so far, though I have a lot scheduled this fall – I have a lot to learn! And of course, there will be much practicing between sessions. When I bought my pistol, I wasn’t exactly sure what my plans were, other than home defense; and as you can read in prior blog posts, I quickly decided that this is something I wanted to have available to me in the event that my life was threatened. To me that decision requires a great deal of practice and work. It’s a big responsibility.

In my first lesson, there was a regular target, and I was supposed to show my instructor how I was shooting. So he had me shoot a magazine, which in this case is six rounds. I did that. He had two suggestions. A slight change in my body position, which was awesome and more natural and comfortable.

Then the other was something he noticed I was doing when shooting. After the shot went off, I would pause before getting my sights aligned again to see where the shot went. So you can imagine that, as he said from a practical standpoint, if you ever really need to use your gun, having that muscle memory of that pause is not a good thing – you need to immediately get back on target so you can shoot again. I tried it without the pause, getting my sights aligned and back on target, and it was amazing. So we quickly moved on to learning how to move and shoot at the same time. I’m practicing that with an *unloaded* [emphasis added!!] gun at home, so no worries!

I think this is another great metaphor for life. Doing the work, then looking at the outcome before continuing the work – i.e. looking to or worrying on the past and not staying in the present moment. You can’t do anything about the past, all you can do is stay in the moment and get yourself together, work your plan. Or in this case, get your sights aligned on the target and press the trigger, do the work. You can’t do anything about where the prior shot went, and you can assess it later for ways to improve once you’re done with the work.

I also practice dry firing at home with a quarter balanced on my sights, which another instructor at the range taught me – great recommendation! She also is a great instructor. The idea is to keep the quarter balanced on the gun’s front sights as you pull the trigger, and that the quarter stays there. Trigger control. Smooth press. Here again, of course, the gun is absolutely unloaded, thus the words “dry firing,” yet all the other safety principles are still very much at work as well.

I have been going to the range about twice a week, and I have worked myself up to firing 150 rounds each time, so about 300 rounds each week. I quit bothering with using two targets and just use one each time; I kind of like the big hole in the middle when I’m done, satisfying. I also have found that it takes me a lot less time to effectively and accurately shoot 150 rounds than it used to as well, which has just kind of happened over time with a lot of practice. And yes, my instructor told me that would happen as well; he said to just focus on the mechanics of my shooting, the accuracy, and the rest would come.

In my life I never thought I would do this. Never thought I’d be into it. It completely surprised me. I’m totally into it! Hook, line and sinker. And pretty good at what I’ve done so far because I’ve employed all of what I have been taught. It’s been amazing, and I can’t wait to learn more! I’m in this one for the long haul.

I’m still in awe, each time I press the trigger, and each time the shot goes off, it’s…damn. It is pretty freaking awesome to be honest. The control and presence required for the outcome I want, is also another great metaphor for life.

Presence. There is so much in that word.

Sometimes people look at me, particularly men, and though they try to hide it and are quite respectful, I can see that they get a kick out of it. I get a lot of smiles. It doesn’t bother me. I look at it from someone else’s perspective. Here’s this little 5’2″ blonde girl, red boots, winning smile (so I’m told!), and she does this thing…and she is doing it well. It’s just that it’s unexpected. I don’t mind delivering the unexpected. It’s kind of fun being a surprise, an enigma. I’m a Scorpio girl after all!

I do so many different things, and love so many things in life, and you just never know what you’ll learn about me next. Of course, neither do I – who knows what I’ll learn about myself next?! And that? That is priceless.