It’s Time

I had a great weekend spent with Sharon and Selena, hanging out, recording a podcast or two and attending Selena’s first but I am sure not last, event. The weather was perfect and it felt like it was “time” for a sense of community to awaken once again.

Summer Solstice reminds us that time is now retreating in the opposite direction. The days will get shorter and the weather will get colder but not yet! We still have plenty of time to enjoy summer and all the active moments we can capture.

During the event I pulled three cards just like Sharon. 

The first pull was an overall themed card which would tie everything else that happened after together. It was the “Time” card represented by the celtic goddess Arianrhod. Legend has it that she is involved in determining the fate of individuals as they cross over. She is connected to the moon and the North star. She is from Eastern European descent. Hmm..just so happens I am too. I have been thinking about how to spend my time lately. We have all accumulated “saved time” over our lives now it’s the moment in which to cash it in. Decide what will bring me the most fulfillment as I dole out my hours in a new form and space.

Time is an interesting thing. We try to save it, we make sacrifices in overtime activities such as work or away from loved ones. We are taught that time management is important. I do have to wonder why though? Can you really save time or manage time? The clock is set with only so many allotments of duration per 24 hour cycle. If you save time, it’s not like you can put it in an investment or bank account and withdraw it later. If it isn’t used for one thing it will be used for something else. Hopefully there is a balance to your favour as you use it. In most mystical teachings, including yoga and shaman practices, time is subjective. Passage of it can come and go without any attachment to mankind’s measurement sticks. 

Overall Theme Card

I am in a transition of time. I have spent over 40 years of my life feeling like I had little or no control over “my” time. I do now. I am awake and present and have a sense of the value of time spent.

The next card I pulled was for purposes of “release”. The image was of a woman lying on her back in a cosmic space. She appeared to be meditating. The card read “star bathing”. I wasn’t familiar with this nor the practice. I have been spending lots of time lately doing the opposite of this. I have craved the sun and the solar energy it brings. Maybe it’s time to get nocturnal? 

Star bathing is connected with the crystalline grid of the Earth. Find places where the vortex of energy is felt and meditate there to unlock the energy. It’s time to travel I think and the great part is I don’t have to go far. There are plenty of vortexes here in Western Canada just waiting to explore. 

The last exercise was about embodiment. I pulled an image of a dragon. At first, I thought it was related to dragonflies but now I am pretty. It’s about dragons. In the yoga practices at the ashram I learned a bit about association and the need to explore the setting, the characteristics and the behaviors of the symbols and not just the image. Dragons…are hoarders of precious things, they are loners, they come out at night mostly (the night theme again). They destroy things. They live in the mystical realm and though they are very powerful to dream about, they aren’t real. The dragon in the picture isn’t breathing fire and doesn’t appear to be a threat to the valley it occupies. Now, interesting enough, I was born in the year of the dragon. I have found myself drawn to the space between the earth and the cosmos. Maybe on my adventures to find the vortex’s and star bath I will encounter a dragon?

It was a wonderful expenditure of time! To get out and connect in an actual group of people you can see instead of envisioning through a camera lense was nostalgic of the ashram. I think that’s one of the things I miss the most is the community.

I hope you feel your time spent reading our blogs and listening to our podcasts is well spent. I look forward to more exploration of the meaning of the cards and their connectivity to my present.

Namaste

Accountability: No one left to blame but you

I have been restless lately. My gardens are growing, the yard doesn’t take as much time and I have no major trips to look forward to. I am struggling to stand still. I took a bit of a break from everything for the last month. Stopped my yoga practices, my positive eating habits, exercising and I have noticed some old habits starting to creep back in. Uggh!

The challenge is that now I am more present than I have ever been in my life. I can’t blame anyone else for my current state. In the past I could say that my actions are justifiable and a coping mechanism for my life. It’s my husband’s fault, it’s my kids fault, it’s the ashrams fault hmmm. I know better. I know that I am the one who decides ultimately what I am going to think, create, action or …quit doing.

One habit I have kept is reading books. I opened one recently around Shamanism and spirit animals. Since I was taking a break from the yoga practices I decided to dust off the shaman literature. 

Put yourself first…there’s that quote again. I thought I was pretty independent and started to count the ways in which I was waiting for someone else to complete something before I could do “my thing”. I expected my husband to help me find a van. I realized I also expected him to drop his projects and help me to “camperize” a van to some extent. The “check lights’ ‘ warning came on in the car. I expected him to either fix it or take it somewhere. The list is long but when should the accountability to take care of things that are important to me start?

I have a new adventure for June. Stop waiting for someone else to do the things I can do myself.

I spent my day fixing our pond in the backyard. I researched pumps, purchased the one I thought worked best for our scenario and arranged it. I waded into the muck and cleaned out the debris. Planted my water plants and spent my afternoon listening to the blissful sound of the waterfall. I can do these things! I can do more. I can be accountable for what I want to do and how I want to be. Blaming anyone else doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Clearly I need to get back positive habits that keep me on track and productive.  It’s one thing to get sidetracked. Before you know it weeks if not months have gone by and good intentions have resulted in time being lost.

I saw a tan and black butterfly today. It fluttered by me and then circled me several times. My first instinct was to grab my camera. I knew if I did I would lose the moment to dance with the butterfly. I chose to stay present and as the butterfly the size of a graceful hand floated around me several times I smiled.

It was a good day to dance and get moving.

Wind In My Sails…

On the way to Vimy Ridge just outside Waterton Park May 2021

One thing that is a guarantee about living in Southern Alberta is that there will be wind involved when planning any outside activity. You would think after living here for over 50 plus years, I would be used to it by now. Ugh! Living at the ashram taught me that weather should be secondary to keeping yourself in motion outside. I walked trails in snow, mud, rain and didn’t let it get me down. So what’s a little wind in my sails then? Well, to be honest, it’s more than a little it can get up 70km/hr easily before you know it. The gang has decided we should focus on “adventure” this month and I am up for many as the month progresses. I bought an inflatable kayak and have been delighted in testing it’s ability to stay a float on some pretty easy local lakes. It was on a calm day I have to admit and I will probably stick to calm days while kayaking. My husband and I decided once to take our canoe out on St Mary’s reservoir. It was calm when we started out and not a cloud in the sky. We paddled around the lake and were really enjoying the day when we noticed in the distance some ominous black clouds building. We knew we wouldn’t make it back to our original starting spot so decided to go a shore by the East bank. This part of the lake has big boulders and not much else. I clammbered up the rocks and huddled by the canoe while my husband went to get the truck.

When it rains it pours. The universe loves to make the most when it catches me out in nature without anywhere to go but to stay put and grit it out. Boy did it down pour. The wind whipped around me and the rain felt like nasty pellets stinging my bare arms. I held onto the canoe which at some points wanted to fly away. It seemed like hours before hubby came with the truck but it was only probably minutes. So you would think that maybe I had had enough of that type of boating? Nope, I decided to go even more adventurous and trade my sturdy, hard bodied canoe in for an inflatable kayak. I hope to try it out soon on some rivers and lakes in the local mountain area. I need to go shopping first for a good life jacket and longer kayak paddle.

Wind or no wind, I am determined to get out there this summer and enjoy this amazing playground I have been blessed to live in. I hope to see you on the river or lake or on a mountain trail. Either way, if nothing else, this crazy time has proven how lucky we are to be alive. Why not get the heart pumping!

Work Aparent

I listen to my grown kids talk about their professions these days and wonder… will they ever find a profession they are passionate about? Is that even a thing anymore? You hear lots of stats that say we will change professions at least 4-5 times or more. I chatted a-bit with my daughter. She is thinking about making a change. After so much education involved in professions are we brave enough to walk away from the money and security to pursue something different? Do we owe it to ourselves to try? She said she is thinking about stopping renting her “self” out for labour. Hah, what a great way to put it. We all got to make a living but do we all get to make the most out of life? Someone mentioned universal income to me the other day. Should we have a society that pays us not to work when we chose not too? The world is such a different place these days. Maybe this is part of the shift and trend in thought? Time will tell.

As a parent, I have changed my views of traditional work theories for my kids. I have changed. Don’t just put your head down and do what pays your bills. Find something that gives you a sense of moving forward. Be brave and able to pivot even if you feel that you owe your profession something of yourself. You don’t, in fact the more the shift and change the more valuable you become to any company worth exploring.

What’s The Rush?

Our inner garden needs weeding and refinement as much as our outter one.

The balance between action and refinement

I have been enjoying reading and contemplating the Kundalini philosophy and practices. I strongly believe there is a lot I can learn from action and refinement in this area. The more I explore the more it becomes apparent that action without refinement is something I have mastered. I have always been a “jump in and get started” kind of personality. I believed I could pivot and adjust as I went but it was important to get going before I got side tracked doing something else or lost my motivation to continue down a path. It has served me pretty good in the past with work getting done and the quality being “ok”.

Now? I find myself wanting more quality over quantity. 

I have spent years building my external gardens. My yard is bursting with a variety of plant life and areas of interest. I push the growing season by planting early and extending out harvest as much as the weather will permit. This year was no different and yet it was. In the past, I would have taken the chance that it may or may not snow in my zone at the end of May. Zone 6 is notorious for being unpredictable or predictable in doing the opposite of what you expect. The weather over the past few weeks has been wonderful with highs in the mid twenties even as high as twenty-seven(80 degrees for us old timers) for a few days. Then a hint of cold weather appeared on the horizon and as is common the white stuff appeared out of nowhere. 

So why did I plant early and take the chance that everything might freezeTake the chance that I may have to start over later? I think it’s about taking calculated risks and refining goals as you go. For instance, through the years I have come to understand which plants are more likely to survive a snow fall late in the season and which aren’t. I have researched how to compensate for the low temps by covering plants and providing protection for those vulnerable. I have begun to filter my desire to have a longer growing season with a realistic expectation of what that might entail.

So what’s the rush? This exploration of balance and refinement relates to my desire for making the most of our short growing season (seems Southern Alberta’s growing season is getting shorter and shorter) and finding ways to expand what is possible to accomplish in the time given.

Can we transfer this exploration to our lives? The crystal ball that magically tells us how life will go is flawed. Most often, it doesn’t account for what happens when we are on autopilot. I find myself daily having to reset and find renewed motivation to get projects done or surrender to the knowledge that some things weren’t meant to be. I am working with a mind that has a desire to time travel through the past and leap into the future at any given moment, it takes discipline and resilience to keep it in check. To function from my centre while not giving into the flood of narratives that escape with a variety of emotion is a constant battle of will and surrender of control to a higher power. The garden that dwells within me is still being refined. The habitual paths(patterns) are well worn and maybe too comfortable to keep accessible. As I try to trench out new and healthier routes I become aware that rushing is not the answer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to start and continue to chip away at obstacles that constantly show up to distract us from our goals and purpose. What I am learning though, is refinement and checking in often with my inner guru helps me make sure I am awake and aware . It helps me to find a pace to live my life that keeps me healthy and whole while focused on what’s important for me to see to fruition at any given moment.

Namaste

Save Your Breath

Pranayama-The practice of breath control

If it’s true what yogis say “You only have so many breaths in each lifetime” then isn’t it worth paying attention to each inhalation and exhalation for maximum effect?

How do you consciously control your breaths?

Once you explore the wonder of something that seems to happen without any effort on our part you start to wonder if there isn’t more you can bring within your control.

We use breathing exercises for so many things: 

Just breath(calm from stressful situation)

Don’t hold your breath (release tension) or hold your breath(stop hiccups, absorb intentions)

Deep breaths (build up oxygen levels)

Count your breaths ( to help with sleep, to meditate, to focus)

These are just a few reminders of how we already use our most basic instincts to help us daily.

I have been reading about the Fourth Cakra-Anahata and the practice of pranayama. I hadn’t, in the past, got very specific about the process when meditating with breath control. In the book, Kundalini Yoga For The West, Swami Radha talks about the “Triple Process”: the inhalation, suspension and exhalation. The practice is recommended to awaken the dormancy of the Kundalini energy. You are encouraged to contemplate that you only have so many breaths in a lifetime. Using those breaths on emotional outbursts or trivial endeavors could shorten your lifespan.

So next time you become aware of your breath stop and contemplate the value it has. It’s not like you can stop and save your breath for another time or opportunity. I realize I can, however, gain control over the maximum benefits of each inhalation and exhalation. Take advantage in the pauses between each to absorb the positive energy and release back into the cosmos an excess I may have stored up.

Namaste

 

White Blood Cells

May’s theme is to “Follow Your Dreams”

Laying in Savasana (Corpse Pose)

There is a body. It’s laying on a carpet of green grass in what appears to be a room in a house. It’s face up, hands with palms up and at its side. I can’t see the face clearly.The cavity of the body is open and I can see the internal organs. On the right mid abdomen side I see what I think is the kidneys but it is made up of white milky egg-like objects. They are translucent and bunched together like grapes.

The view shifts and I am in another room talking to someone. I am frustrated and angry that I had to go pick up the body from somewhere else. The person says that the body has lost its memory. I don’t understand the comment as I saw the white egg-like objects. I understood that they were its memories.

I woke up at that moment confused. I wanted more dreams and here is a doozy. Not really clear as usual but interesting enough to want to pick apart.

I just happen to still be my dream yoga class. Yesterday, we used the Kundalini system to analyze our latest dream edition.Using the method the first thing I did was write down as much as I could remember of the dream, date it and sign it. The next step is to describe what was going on prior to having the dream.

A couple of things have been coming up for me lately. One, I have been thinking about my relationship with my dad. It wasn’t a great one. He was loud and a lot of the time it was embarrassing to be with him in public. You tended to try and distance yourself and hide when you were with him. He put himself first most of the time. That made it difficult to grow any feelings of being supported or safe when you were with him. Since I had rescued him several times throughout the years I could easily understand if the corpse was his and I resented having to go get it. 

I have also been struggling with getting the COVID vaccine. I do want to travel, I want this pandemic to go away and I want some sense of being free to connect with others to return. The type of vaccine available for someone like me in my area is controversial. There have been some reported cases of people dying from getting it. I am reluctant to put myself in that scenario.I am not an expert here. I can only make decision on the type of vaccine for me and no one else.

Conscious Concerns- The body is frozen in place at the moment, corpse like in pose. The memory of something seems to be missing. The lack of “motion” has become “emotional”.I have been worried about getting the wrong type of vaccine and having negative consequences. Being pressured into it and regretting the outcome. I have been frozen in fear,reluctance and lack of trust.

Picking of three symbols- Memory loss, White Cells, The Corpse Pose

Memory Loss-

What had I forgotten? During the class exercises it hit me clear as day. For the first 4 years of my life I was isolated in doors. I was born with low white blood cells and had low immunity to childhood diseases. I haven’t had any normal childhood infections like chicken pox or measles. I have lived this type of pandemic existence before as a child. I had forgotten. I required outside medical intervention to grow more white blood cells and increase my ability to be immune. Being closed off from others had triggered this experience to come up for me.

White Cells

Through the class I started to understand what the white milky like eggs were. White Blood Cells are essential to fighting off bacteria and infections. They rush in to help fight off illness. The dream reminded me that I have had a history of needing help to fight off infections in the past and that this time was no different. Whoa right?

The Corpse

If you are a yoga type you know this pose and enjoy the Savasanas. What I have been missing is the connection to the pose and what it does for you. Lying in corpse pose and practicing savasanas helps to calm you. Induces relaxation and peace to help distance yourself from your emotions. Think about the circumstances in a clear and rational way. The body wasn’t my dads, it was mine. I should know this by now as every time I am more than one person in the dream I can’t make out faces or gender of the “mystery person”.

Putting it into action

It’s ok to be frightened and cautious of the type of vaccine you get. Do your homework and decide what is best for you by yourself. Be informed and choose what feels right. Remember you have tools and practices that have become life changing. My husband mentioned to me that I have started to chant or hum in my sleep. My inner guru must be working overtime to keep me on the right track. I was bummed that he didn’t recognize the melody or that he didn’t tape it. I said next time to please record it as I would love to know which mantra is being repeated when I am unconscious. 

Surrender control and trust that you are making the right choice by getting vaccinated. You will be able to reduce isolation sooner and start building the community you crave. I want to stay open and willing. I have been given the opportunity before. I am a walking example of being born without immunity and by the gift of science and medicine being given a second chance.

My dreams have become essential gifts of wisdom and knowledge. I eagerly await the opportunities to learn and grow from them. We, at midlifearieses.ca have dedicated the month of May to following our dreams. I hope you will join us in this adventure!

Namaste.

Begin Where You Are

Not where you think you should be…

I have been home from the ashram now for about a month. I knew it would be a struggle to keep up with all my new found practices. Everyday I am determined to make the habits stick. I have been trying to connect in with the ashram to keep volunteering but meetings get cancelled or rescheduled as everyone is planning what’s next. I have kept busy with yard work, creating sacred spaces in my house and doing some paintings. I have a list of things that need to be done and things that I want to do. I have kept up with morning chants, yoga and stretching. I eat in silence for breakfast and lunch at regular times. So, yes, some of the habits have stuck.

What I have realized is this…I am not doing everything I thought I would when I left the ashram. I have had to take stock of this fact and come to terms with what it means. The little girl in my dream about the stairwell is shaking her head and looking at me like “I told you so”. I could chastise myself and agree with her then make a new list and try harder to make it fit or I could surrender and accept that I am not there yet. I may never be there. 

Acceptance takes courage. It takes being honest with yourself, what’s important to you and how you manage your time.

Some of the practices I have kept doing daily is reading the books I brought back with me.  In the Kundalini For The West, Swami Radha talks about liberation from all limitations. Beginning your journey where you are at instead of where you think you should be. Unclear thoughts and expectations can become focused if you change your thought patterns. Instead of me adopting the narrative of reasons why I am not keeping up on all I thought I would, I can focus on what I am doing and go from there. Instead of trying to swallow the elephant in one bite, take a breath, then a step and see how that feels. A breath and a step everyday is a path to acceptance. Being kind to yourself isn’t weak. It takes bravery to move forward.Knowing that things happen for a reason is reassuring. I am a firm believer in serendipity as I have seen it unfold in my life over and over again. I wouldn’t have gone to the ashram at all if I hadn’t got a Facebook reminder of my first blog about my experience there several years ago. Now, I am grateful for that reminder of steps taken without conscious effort. My unconscious “Inner Guru” is always 3 steps ahead of me carving out the path before I even know what’s what. All I need to do is take a breath then a step. Acknowledge where I am and give myself space to grow my inner garden perhaps slower than I thought was necessary in the past. Each breath and step moves me forward and I am “ok” with that approach.

What Is Enough?

Thoughts on lifestyle through retirement years

I am about half way through my “66 weeks to find myself” adventure. In January I have to choose to “officially” retire or find a job. I have been exploring how I could maybe manage both scenarios at once.  In my previous life, I used to give advice about budgeting, investments and living within your means and now I find myself in a place of decision.

How much monthly income do I need to be comfortable?

That’s a tricky question. I use the  word “comfortable” on purpose. You can get by with minimum funds. I see seniors whose only source of money is Canada Pension and Old Age Security. They get by and if they are resourceful they can manage with some support.

I have a philosophy on this topic I want to share with you. Have you ever tried one of those “How much do I need to retire” calculators? The outcomes are usually very depressing and, in most cases, out of reach for people. It usually tells you that you will need to invest thousands of dollars a month to keep up your current lifestyle into retirement. What it doesn’t tell you is to think about how you see yourself aging. I am active at age 56. I do some lite hiking, I went on 2 (pre-COVID) trips a year most years. Our house is paid for, my kids are grown and moved on with no financial support from us, except for gifts. I spend money on plants, garden things, my spiritual practices (classes and tools). I have saved a bit, not as much as I probably should have but I have some funds put aside. I have a pension to look forward to which I am grateful for.

The literature I have read says you should plan for about 70% of your pre-retirement income to ensure you can still maintain your quality of life. Most articles don’t talk about how long you should look at sustaining the 70%. I think the key is that while you are in good health, young enough to want to explore and travel you should plan to have a larger amount of available funds. I am pretty sure that if I am lucky enough to live into my 80s or 90s that I won’t need the same amount of excess cash that I might in my 50s or 60s. The high pressure sales that exist saying that you need to support a lifestyle that you don’t have now doesn’t make sense to me. I found that when working with seniors and discussing their finances they did in retirement  the same things they did in earlier years. If you saved most of your life you were unlikely to start spending all your money when you stopped working. If you spent thriftly you didn’t start going on shopping sprees in your 80s. We are creatures of habits and we tend to stay consistent no matter what age we are. I would rather maintain a healthy balance of starting to draw from my income resources in my late 50s. Use up my retirement funds to give me the best scenario of quality of life while I can. Then in my late 60s and through til my late 70s I can start to reduce my spending. I believe I won’t require as much to live on then as I do now. I know you think there are some holes in this plan. Also, I should mention that I am a two income family and my husband does plan to work until 65. If the place where he works is still around until then we will have health benefits that are not “out of pocket”.

So, the question remains: How much money is enough to sustain a comfortable existence in retirement?

If you have been lucky enough to have saved for retirement in your younger years and you have a pension to look forward to, I say retire as early as you can. Use the 70% of your income as a guideline but remember you probably will only use that amount for the first maybe 10 years of retirement then slowly reduce it as you get older. When that magic factor (80 in my case) is reached, push the button. I am going to take the maximum allowed annual withdrawals and then reduce them as I get older. Supplement my income with my registered funds and then take early CPP (Canada Pension Plan) at age 60, then activate OAC (Old Age Security) at 65. Even if my husband’s plant shuts down before he is 65 there are many insurance plans we can explore for health benefits. 

My parents passed away in their 80s, my sister passed away at 62. Mortality puts things in perspective. I am not saying working is like dying because that’s not true. What I am saying is that by setting myself up with enough income to sustain my lifestyle I can choose when and how to work. Look for projects and work that brings me fulfillment. I know many seniors that are working into their late 70s even early 80s. The world has changed in this regard. As long as you are productive and have a sense of contribution to a community or company then why not enjoy it.

There are so many scenarios and options available when it comes to finding a mix that works best. I wish I would have started to explore it more in my 20s. I know that the options are greater now though when it comes to working virtual or online as opposed to when I was 20(there wasn’t an internet for the regular population when I was 20).

Next time you look at the retirement calculator and the result says you need to invest 10K a month to meet your goals, remember that it is not taking into account your resourcefulness. Plug in the worst case scenario for yourself then explore how you can supplement that amount through other means. It helps to calm the anxiety attached to not having enough. 

Maybe the commercial is true? You are richer than you think. The more you think the richer you become as an active mind has the ability to create the best possible outcomes.

Namaste.

PS-These thoughts are my own on retirement and may not be your scenario. Find a financial advisor that can give you good advice based on your circumstances.

This Is Home, Where I Belong

What makes a house a home? Listen in to get our version of being comfortable in your space.

Sharon is moved into her new home, Selena has purchased her first home less than a couple of years ago and me? I have been in my current home for over 35 years. What makes a space feel like home? As always our chats are unfiltered, genuine and can get a bit off topic so grab your favorite beverage or plan your walk and let’s dive in.

Making our space feel like home