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.

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Unconditional Love in Lobbying

On the top of the Pyramid on the Sun at Teotihuacan, Dec. 31, 2014
On the top of the Pyramid on the Sun at Teotihuacan, Dec. 31, 2014

And…it has begun. The roll call for the first bell of the state legislative session has been completed. Five months of wild and wooliness. People always wonder how I do this. How can you be a lobbyist?

Lobbyists communicate, and communication is important. As in any industry, it’s about how you approach it and how you do your job. How you live your life. How you treat others, and how you treat yourself. So for me, though I don’t shout my spiritual path from the rooftops when I’m in the Capitol Building, I bring it with me, and I respect everyone and their path.

It is just simply…me. I don’t need words or statements to others to be who I am. I am me.

I think this path really helps with that. If you follow a path of unconditional love, you can’t get caught up in the dramas of the building, the fights, the arguments. Why? Because it just doesn’t matter! Everyone is doing the best they can in their own dreams, their dream of the world as don Miguel Ruiz writes in The Four Agreements. Technically I’m not a lobbyist anymore, as I can’t ask folks for a “yes” or a “no,” but the idea is still the same.

The Four Agreements
The Four Agreements

You can really love the people in this work even if you’re not really into the game of it all. Going for true win-wins. I always loved the win-wins, but I used to also love the game. The thrill of the chase. The rush. The bell rings and off you go, chasing down this thing or that. Not so much anymore. I just watch it, almost feeling as if I could be sitting above the Capitol Building, watching all the pieces and people running about, to and fro.

Detachment. It’s not to minimize the work there, or the passion of people for their beliefs of course, I honor their dreams just as I do mine. I also believe that being detached makes me a better lobbyist. I can see it all better, calmly, without reacting. I make better decisions that way.

Long ago I learned to detach from these efforts, and sometimes I work with people that I don’t personally agree with, and that’s o.k. I respect their position and their reasons for it. I learn when to share and when not to share about myself, and through it I maintain who I am regardless. I also never work on something that I can’t believe in at least on some level.

Through it, I have made the most amazing connections with people over the years. I even have had amazing spiritual conversations with legislators and lobbyists because I find common ground, and I don’t throw words to describe or label my spiritual beliefs in their face, nor do I react to theirs. They are just symbols, labels. What would be the point? It’s all about the love, right? I respect their path, and I respect mine. I respect myself.

So many in the world, in business and in the legislative world too, can take things personally, thus the “wild and woolly” thing. When you combine it with a practiced will, it can be even more wild and woolly. Some people have a strong will, but they don’t know it. That includes many in the legislative field, at least I think so. A little “woo woo,” but magical folks of course know about their will and how to use it – they are practiced with it. They also know the whys and why nots, or at least you hope that we understand the why nots as well.

Here is a great example of taking the legislative process personally, and what can result…

I knew a lobbyist who was also a magical practitioner, which really just ties in with using your focused Intent or Will and leveraging its power and your ability. Business folks call it the “vision thing,” and this is like the vision thing on steroids. Like with anything, there’s a balance. Two years or so ago, this person I knew tipped that balance, as they set out to do this big work to make the legislature pass the bill they wanted. As an aside, the mere idea of “making” the legislature do something you want to do is humorous in and of itself, and I know any lobbyists reading this will get that.

But this person told me all about it and what they were going to do. They explained about the injustice, as they saw it, and how they were going to call for justice, and they were going to get this bill passed. Anger combined with determination. It was palpable. It was personal for them.

They were attached to and caught up in their own dream. And it backfired.

I listened, and then I offered up my recommendation that they may want to have a cool down period and revisit that decision, which in the end they substantially did, though not completely. It is a great example of taking something personally and attempting to put your will before the will of others – to try to override their dream with your own. In the end, they almost lost their entire effort and almost had the opposite happen of what they wanted. It was very touch and go for quite a while after that.

Be impeccable with your word. - don MIguel Ruiz
Be impeccable with your word. – don Miguel Ruiz

I think that goes back to the idea of be careful how you use your words and what you send out into the world. Be impeccable with your words, one of The Four Agreements. I would add – be impeccable with your thoughts. Or remember the saying that it will all come back and bite you in in the you-know-what.

Also the idea of boundaries comes into play. What are healthy boundaries? I like to think of this simple illustration – where my dance space begins, yours ends, and vice versa. Respecting others’ decisions and respecting our own. Using our will on ourselves and our life, but not projecting our will onto someone else or subjugating the will of others. Disagree with respect, honorable disagreement.

Yeah, people get really emotional and worked up on this stuff!

This morning I talked with a lobbyist about my spiritual retreat last week to Teotihuacan with the Ruiz family. (If you want to see more on my experience there, you can watch my video HERE.) Even though this lobbyist would be considered as likely coming from a different point of view on things of that nature, I had told them I was going. They are one of those people who lives it to give it. I jokingly said that it was quite a shock to come back from sitting on a pyramid feeling the love and then to walking back into this, lol.

But the funny thing was that, as we talked about strategy and how this session was going to play out and just the idea that it has begun, this person was using the same words I was using…words like “it doesn’t matter.” We talked about how people get locked into their positions and caught up in it and can get angry and worked up.

This was all in general of course, not about anyone or anything, but just looking at essentially the domestication of the state legislative process and almost how it is this live organism – it has its own dream. And how people get caught up in it and are domesticated by that dream. We are working on an issue together that has a lot of different sides and positions surrounding it, and we agreed that we were going to stay focused on the big picture, stepping away from the language minutiae and microscope as needed to go back to “what is the purpose?” in all of this.

That’s how we roll. Hard to explain in words, but it was good, and it was fascinating. How do you roll? What is your purpose? Does it really matter? Who cares? What is your will – your true will and purpose? What is your ego saying? What does the real “you” say? Are you listening?

O.k., so back to listening to the introductory speeches… “Wisdom does not begin or end in this House…We should do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do…What better time to think of your last day than on this first day.” This was a quote by the new Speaker of the House, which I heard just as I finished typing this. Pretty cool. You can find those gems, if you listen.

me today - extra
Selfie of me loving the surprise morning snow today!

What do you want to be on your last day? Will you meet it with love? Will you meet it with respect? Any day could be that last day. The last day of your life. How do you choose to meet your death? Are you listening? Which voice are you listening to?

Transform Those Sticky-icky Thoughts

One of the things that don Miguel Ruiz and his family teach, Byron Katie, and also Martha Beck through her Life Coach Training Program, is the idea that our thoughts about a situation create our suffering. What we are making them mean and the story that we repeat over and over, even to ourselves, about a situation. The situation itself is not what is causing our suffering, particularly after getting past a certain period of time. … I call them “Sticky-icky” thoughts.

truthYou can walk through the fear, change your thought, partner with the fear, change your story. Rewrite your story to match your truth…your inner truth.

Understanding that “your” truth is not *The* Truth.

We each have our own truth, our own story that we create as the Artist of our own life. Coaching can help you discover those inner gems or clues to and on your right path, but there is also much that you can do on your own.

The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz is a great set of tools to use to shift your thoughts. The Four Agreements are:

four1) Be Impeccable With Your Word,
2) Don’t Take Anything Personally,
3) Don’t Make Assumptions and
4) Always do your best.

The Four Agreements are powerful tools for living your right life.

There are many ways to transform our thoughts, many tools, and I guide my clients through this process in my life coaching practice, but another tool you can use is this…

First, notice your thought happening. Second, imagine and picture holding the thought in your hand. Look at it. Separate from it. Become the Observer.

Then, say to yourself “I am having the thought that XYZ.” Notice how you feel, how it shifts.

Finally, say to yourself “I notice that I am having the thought that XYZ.” Notice how you feel, how it shifts.

It’s a tool we learned in our Martha Beck training program, and though of course it’s always a little different when someone leads you through it, it is a powerful tool to work through on your own.

You are not your thoughts. Separating from our thoughts through work like this helps us to realize that our thoughts are not us, and enables us to shift from letting our thoughts control us to controlling our thoughts – transforming them.

We create and manifest the life we want to live. Choose your thoughts, choose your life. It happens one thought at a time, in each moment.

What happy thought do you choose today

to transform an otherwise un-fun thought?

Play with it and have fun!

I would love to hear about your experiences! You can comment here or come on over to my Facebook page for the conversation.

Love and blessings!

Sheri

P.S. If you like what you see on my Facebook page, please consider “liking” the page too!

Whose stuff is this anyway?

stop2“Are you in your business or are you in their business?” Such a juicy coaching question. I *love* this question! It all of a sudden puts the brakes on, causes you to look around and just…stop. Wow.

Well, at least that’s what happens to me when a fellow coach tosses that cookie to me. I slowly chew every delicious bite and then ask for my glass of milk and pat myself on the head. Satisfying.

Sweet clarity. It provides a great way to pull yourself out of the muck and mire – what I like to call the “igh” – and get a clear look at a situation. Dust yourself off, hold that stuff in your hand and look at it. Be the observer. Ask yourself, “Am I in my business, or am I in their business?” “Is this my stuff? Or is this their stuff?”

We can only control ourselves and our own stories – our own business, our own stuff. Other people’s stuff is simply that – theirs. And newsflash…it really says nothing about you! Pause and let that one sink in. … I know, right? Powerful.

fourI’m sure that I will be writing more about The Four Agreements and related books by the family of don Miguel Ruiz, which gets into this concept of our stories. I also wrote about it in my blog post The Power of Story, Creating Your Life.

I know there have been many times in my life where I’ve internalized the stories of others – their views and opinions about me. And what did that result in? All it gave me was drama filled plot twists.

I carried around their stuff, their bucket of igh and made it mine.

Not so fun, right? Let’s take it a step further. Ask yourself some of these questions…

  • Are you one of those people who feels everything strongly?
  • Do you walk into a room and feel the mood of the group as if it were your own?
  • Do you find yourself sensitive to the emotions of others?
  • Do you cry – I mean *really* cry – at sad movies?

empathThere are a lot more questions I could ask, but if you answered yes to most of those, chances are that you’re an “empath.”

Empath.

By the word “empath,” I don’t mean “having empathy” or ” having sympathy” for someone – that’s not quite it. We all do that. Being an empath is like having empathy on steroids. It takes it to a deeper level.

As an empath, you actually feel what the other person is feeling. In fact, it can go so deep for some folks that they even feel physical symptoms when someone they are close to is sick. Have you ever had that happen? It’s a little less common, but it shows how many different ways you can be an empath.

As an empath, if you accept the stories and opinions of others as defining you, you also accept the emotions that come with it from other people. You internalize their stories and you internalize their emotions. Just toss some more igh into that bucket of stuff you’re carrying.

I recently taught a tele-class on this concept for fellow coaches and just had this conversation with a friend over the weekend, where you could almost see the light bulb turn on. Stunned silence. In my experience, when folks hear about this idea it results in silence, quickly followed by something like “Damn, really??! Omg, that’s me! It explains so much of my life!”

Quickly followed by, “omg, what can I do?” My first response is always, ask yourself, “Is this mine? Or is this someone else’s?” – a variation on the coaching idea that started off this post.

empath-a-blessing-and-curseBeing an empath is a huge gift. It helps you to understand others. It also comes with a burden – you lug around that bucket of stuff from others. That is before you know how to work with it.

Pretty cool, huh?

Yeah, I love that a-ha moment. I had a student I’ve been teaching for the last two years who says knowing this literally changed her life. It helped her relationships with other people and got her off of this emotional roller coaster. She set down that bucket of stuff she had been carrying for years.

She told me that she always just called herself a “New Yorker *itch” – she is NY through and through and loves it. But after her “ah-ha” moment, she realized that was never true – it was only that she was always overloaded with the emotions of other people. Can you imagine being in such a big city and not knowing your were an empath and feeling everything from folks around you?

I know that place well myself. It was years before I figured this out. I’ve been a lobbyist for 25 years. Imagine not knowing any of this and being a lobbyist working crazy hours on highly controversial issues surrounded by the strong emotions of others?

Yeah, this realization changed my life too. So I wanted to share it here with you. The next time you are in a situation and feel overwhelmed with emotion, ask yourself, “is this mine? or is this someone else’s?”

If the answer is no, set down that bucket of stuff.

With no offense intended to this cute little skunk! Sweet freedom!
With no offense intended to this cute little skunk! Sweet freedom!

The Power of Story, Creating Your Life

The Power of Story, Creating Your Life…and The Story of Jessie . . .

Stories. As children, we are read stories by our parents and told stories by our living ancestors. As adults, we sit by the fire, listening to and telling stories. Stories come in many forms, yet every good story has an underlying meaning, or many layers of meaning. We tell stories to impart a message, a feeling or a belief.

My high school college prep English teacher, whom we called Judy “Vogue” (yes, we were young, but she was indeed a former Vogue model.), taught three levels of story interpretation that always resonated with me – the literal, interpretive and applied levels.

The Literal level was the story on its face, what in legal terms is often referred to as the “black letter of the law.”

The Interpretive level is what it means to our life under the surface, below the obvious.

The Applied level is more of a philosophical or higher level of what the story’s message is for humanity.

I like to think of this as also akin to the parts of our self, or even of our soul, breaking it down into three levels as well, to gain greater understanding of ourselves and our stories. There are so many ways to look at it, and I like this one because it is simple, easier to gain understanding and can be used to look at so many different things about ourselves.

The first part is our Middle Self, which would be our personality self, or as Sigmund Freud would refer to it, our Ego. This is akin to the Literal level of story analysis from the English class.

The second level is our Lower Self. This is akin to the Interpretive level of story analysis, and in Freudian terms, it is our Id. You might also call it our subconscious self. This is what is below the surface of the story and the intuitive part of ourselves.

On the third level is our Higher Self or super-conscious self or divine self. This is akin to the Applied level of story analysis, seeking to look at deeper and applied meanings for humanity, and also from a Freudian standpoint akin the Super Ego, which is that higher level of consciousness. (As you can tell, I also have enjoyed my psychology classes through the years.)

Stories have the power to bring understanding. Stories also have the power to shape our life and shape us as a living being. They have the power of creation. We all have the power of creation, to create our lives, shape our life. Stories are a vehicle of creation.

Every day we tell stories. We define and shape our lives through the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell others. Just like we all have our own truth, yet there are many truths. We have our own truth and our own story. Others have their truth and their story, and it may be different than ours. They may have a different story of us or about us as well.

But the key is to find and listen to your own story. And then rewrite what you want to change and what you want to create.

To do this in the best way, we must be aware from the perspective of our higher self of what our story is, what our truth is. Then we can determine if our current story is in keeping with our true will or our truth from that higher perspective…and if we choose to keep our story or rewrite our story.

To make this shift or make changes in our lives to align with our true self, we can use the power of story. We can write and rewrite our own stories. We can do this mentally, through affirmations or literally through writing a new story on a situation or about our life, thereby integrating it into our heart, body and soul – writing our story and our destiny, creating our future.

Many cultures use the power of story, and of course, we all use it every day. Tribal cultures in general, and cultures/societies such as the Toltecs and the Druids, handed down unwritten stories as a way to pass their cultural heritage and spiritual teachings down to new generations. As one example, in Toltec teachings by don Miguel Ruiz, author of the popular The Four Agreements among other books, he talks about the Dream of the World. The dream is the story that each of us is telling in creating our own Dream of the World.

I participated in a don Miguel Ruiz live online class where he talked about story. To paraphrase his words, here were some of his messages on the power of story:

We are programmed to be what we are from the moment of our conception, but every individual is unique and perfect just the way we are. Imperfection is in our mind because we do not understand our own perfection. We are programmed to create a whole story. But only we can change our story. We all create the story of our lives. We can shift our story and create a paradise for ourselves. You are not responsible for the creation of anybody else or the story of anybody else. They are responsible for their own creation and story, not you.

I would also add that the stories of others or their Dream of the World does not define or create or program us or our story. That is unless you allow it and are not actively writing your own story. You can create your own life, by creating and writing your own story. Story has the power of transformation.

As part of a storytelling exercise three years ago, I wrote The Story of Jessie. You may see similarities in this story and its messages to that of the Story of Job in the Bible. The Bible contains a series of stories, archetypal stories with different levels of meanings. One of those stories is the Story of Job. When I was younger, I was in the Masonic organization The International Order of Job’s Daughters and served as my group’s top elected official called Honored Queen, so its messages resonate with me.

I hope you enjoy my Story of Jessie, a story of transformation, perception and of the power of story itself. Perhaps it will move you to write your own story. You can rewrite the story of your life and recreate yourself anew, just like Jessie…

The Story of Jessie . . .

Jessie had a plan. She always had a plan. Though admittedly some things would go awry, from time to time.

Jessie lived on a plateau high in the mountains. She could look out from her land, gazing across the lush green fields, to the ocean edging into the valley deep below. Flowers grew in abundance over her land. Behind her home of stone and wood was a beautiful hillside, rolling up into peaked and jagged mountains. The snow capped peaks were visible on a good day. A day with no clouds. Though this was not one of those days for Jessie.

Somehow the weather seemed to mimic her moods. Jessie was melancholy. There was so much she wanted to do and see, and even the beauty of her land would not soothe her soul.

Jessie raised sheep. Well, if truth be told, she could, and in fact did, raise almost any animal. She had horses, goats, cattle, chickens and even a few pigs ran around her land for good measure. Not to mention the birds that came to visit her. Yet, Jessie wasn’t satisfied.

She would walk outside at sunset, as the sun set over the beautiful crystalline blue waters far below, and lament her lot in life. She’d always had a strong belief in the divine and always had everything she ever wanted. She never was one to wish for a man or children. It wasn’t that. She yearned for excitement.

On this particular day, with the clouds and this particular sunset, she turned her back on the beauty of the ocean and walked back to the barn. She threw her walking stick against the doors of the barn, startling the animals, which ran to the other sides of their pen and hid in the backs of their stalls. Not feeling better, she picked up the walking stick, and she shook it at the sky, and she asked why. Why is this all there is to life? Why is this all that I have? Why isn’t there something more to do with my life than this? She shouted to the heavens and the sky above.

Jessie would have been wise to choose her words more carefully. Sure, she knew that words were intent and that words were action, but as someone who had so much in life, and never really had been tested, Jessie never experienced what can happen with words. She did not understand what the effect truly can be.

As she let her anger ring out, it reached the ears of the universe. And those words began to weave new threads.

Satisfied for the moment, Jessie decided maybe it would be best to call it a night, so she went into her home, where the warm fire was crackling in the hearth. A pot of stew was bubbling in the iron kettle, and she carefully pulled out the kettle’s arm to spoon some of the delicious lamb and steaming vegetables from her garden into her wooden bowl. She sat by herself by the fire, eating her stew with some dark bread she had baked that morning. Her cat and dog lay near her feet content in the warmth and their dreams. Jessie became sleepy and fell fast asleep by the fire.

But her words were moving out through the web of life, and life would not be the same for Jessie.

She awoke to a crash. Startled, Jessie looked around. The fire was out, and all was in darkness. Wait, though, there was a glimmer above. Fire! Jessie gathered her dog and cat to her and ran out of the house. Lightening must have struck her home as a storm had angrily whipped up from the ocean, which was none too pleased by Jessie’s recent lack of appreciation. She tucked her dog and cat safely into the barn and then she ran to the well to try to connect the hose. But the mechanisms were stuck. Jessie was watching her home, with all she owned, burning to the ground.

Meanwhile, the sheep, having found an opening in the fence that Jessie had meant to fix before she went in for the evening, but forgot in her tempest, ran through the opening of the fence. They followed their fearful leader, running to the edge of the plateau. As the roof of her home collapsed into the flames, Jessie heard the sheeps’ bleating and spun around. But it was too late. The leader was already over the edge of the plateau, with all the other sheep following blindly behind, and they fell, bleating in terror to the valley floor. Jessie ran to try to stop them, but in that moment, a driving rain started and pushed her back towards the barn.

Jessie had hoped to find respite in the barn. Her cat and dog were safe. The horses were safe in their stalls. The cattle and goats had been milling about in another pen. But then, there was another crack of lightening. It struck the top of a mighty oak. An oak that had stood the test of time for 200 years. Down it came, crashing on the pen, crushing the animals. It hit the barn, and all she could hear were the cries of the animals around her. Animals crying out in terror and fear.

Jessie crouched low, relatively unharmed, as much as she knew, as Jessie was in shock. All she had with her were her precious little dog and cat.

As the sun came up over the hills in the morning, the rain had finally stopped. Jessie crawled from under the remains of her barn, leaving her dog and cat safely tucked under an old horse blanket that somehow had stayed dry through the storm. She wandered around in a daze. Everything was gone. Her home was gone. The barn. All the animals. Everything she had spent her life building.

Tears streamed down Jessie’s face as she cried out for help. She asked, through the sobs wracking her body, how could you let this happen? Why did this happen? Why have you forsaken me?!

Her cries were ignored.

Jessie had no food really to speak of, as all had been burned in the flames, washed away by the rains or crushed under the blow of the mighty Oak. She was hungry. Her clothes were torn. Somehow she managed to find some food, and she gave what little she found to her dog and cat, before she left them safe and snug, though shaken, as she began the long walk in to town.

Now, no one had really known Jessie in town. They always thought she was rather aloof. And, not understanding Jessie, they took it as an insult and gossiped about her whenever they had the chance. Stories ran rampant at her expense.

By the time Jessie walked the 20 miles into town, in her bare feet as she’d lost her boots somewhere running after the sheep, she was quite a sight to behold. Her dress was ripped and torn, mud was caked on her legs, blood streamed down her face from the cut where the nails from the barn planks had struck her. She went seeking help, but everyone’s doors were closed to her. She knocked at all the doors, and no one answered.

She finally found a beggar at the end of the road, and collapsed down next to the man, and cried. He asked why she was crying. Jessie answered that the universe had taken away her home, her barn and all her animals and that she had nothing left. She coughed. Actually, she had been coughing all day, as Jessie had caught pneumonia. It didn’t take long, and Jessie became delirious while talking to the old man. She’d walked by this beggar many times and paid him no heed. He really had been nothing to her.

Jessie slipped out of consciousness and the world went black. Her dreams were tormented. When she finally came to, it was several days later, and her first thought was of her dog and cat that she had left snuggled in the blanket in the remains of her barn. They must be dead too, she thought. Jessie had no idea where she was or what had happened to her. What time was it? What day was it? She bolted upright in fear.

Jessie was in a little hut, by a warm fire, and over by the hearth, in a big basket lined with rushes and a soft blanket, were her dog and cat. Relief swept over Jessie and she cried tears of joy at seeing her two beloved animals, which ran into her arms.

But, how did she get here? Where was she?

The door opened, the warm sun pouring over the stone floor and he walked in. This was that beggar! But, no…was it?

He introduced himself to her as Rick. And he was all cleaned up now. He had been spending time at the edge of town praying for those in need. He was a monk. Well, was a monk. He never took too kindly to all those rules at the monastery, thank you very much, and he had his own views about it all. When in prayer, he never worried about appearances, and it was of no concern what others thought of him – only what he thought of himself. Rick was a happy soul.

He assured Jessie that her dog and cat were fine. Jessie was so sorry for all she had said before. Her home and life were destroyed. She cried tears of gratitude to the divine for saving her life, and more importantly, for saving the lives of her dog and cat, who were now snuggled up against her. The scars on Jessie’s face from the nails began to heal.

That day, Jessie finally had a true picture of the difference words can mean. Slowly, the web was woven anew in Jessie’s gratitude, and the rough and torn fabric was healed. All Jessie felt was gratitude to the divine and to Rick for helping her, and love for her dog and cat.

When she was finally well enough to travel, Rick packed up Jessie and her dog and cat into his wagon, and they drove off to her land. And there before her eyes, were a newly built home and barn! The fences were all repaired. And, there were her animals! Her dog and cat jumped out of the wagon and ran to sniff and greet their old friends.

Most of her sheep, cattle and horses had been found over this past fortnight while she lay in a feverish sleep by his fire. Rick had, unbeknownst to Jessie, wrangled the townsfolk into helping him. Rick was secretly wealthy. Surprising what good will a bit of the gold coins could produce. But really, to their credit, the townsfolk had been in fear of what they did not know of Jessie.

As they saw the ruins of her home and barn, they took pity on her. The Oak had not really struck the animals, but had broken the fence and the animals had run off in the storm. The whole time she was recovering, the townsfolk had retrieved and tended to her animals. They had rebuilt and restored her land. The Oak was cut up and neatly stacked by her new home. And there, by the door, was her walking stick.

She turned in gratitude to thank Rick, but he was gone. Jessie ran to the newly repaired barn to see her horses all safe and sound in their stalls. The other animals were safely in their pens. She saw the beauty of the sun setting over the ocean, and she was thankful.
Jessie walked over to her new home, picked up her staff, held it aloft to the skies and cried out in gratitude to the heavens.

Jessie was home.

The End