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Living the Dream

I’ve had a week on my own, and I love it. There is so much gratitude in me.

My son and I have a wonderful relationship. We are adjusting to not seeing each other every day. He’s learning independence and I’m learning to let him have it. He comes over to visit (and eat) every second day. I expect this frequency will diminish over time, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts. I get a heartfelt hug every time he leaves.

I have a fantastic network of friends who have, and continue, to support me. Sometimes, it’s by lending a shoulder to cry on. Other times, it’s giving me a kick in the a** and making me look at things differently. I’m thankful for all of them.

I have an encouraging, loving partner. This relationship is like no other I’ve had. For the first several months I believed it was too good to be true. I kept waiting for the “other shoe to drop”. It hasn’t, and I don’t think it will. It’s still relatively new – only 18 months – and we take it day by day. No expectations for the future; simply enjoying what we have, supporting each other, and defining who we are as individuals and as a couple. Martin, if you’re reading this, I adore you (but you already know that).

I have financial independence. I know many women are stuck in unfulfilling marriages because they can’t afford to leave. Or, if they leave, they suffer financial loss. I don’t have that. I have a great job. I have savings and investments. I may not be able to retire as early as I’d thought, but given how much I enjoy my work, it’s not a hardship.

I have my health. Sure, I have allergies and a couple of autoimmune conditions, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s good. Since my CrossFit gym permanently closed, I’ve started a “10 weeks to 5K” running program. I’m not a runner. I don’t enjoy running. Well, I didn’t enjoy it. That’s starting to change. I look forward to seeing how much longer or faster I get week by week.

For the first time ever – I was able to choose a place to live based on only my wants and needs. I wasn’t convinced I’d enjoy a condo as I love gardening. However, knowing I don’t have to spend free time mowing the lawn, weeding, or shovelling snow is appealing. I can fill my home and outdoor spaces with plants and satisfy my green thumb.

I’m having great fun choosing things for the condo. I can buy what appeals to me, decorate the way I want, and not have to consider anyone else’s likes.

Now that most things are put away, I’m bringing my dog home in a few days. I’m not sure how my 120 pound Rottweiler will adjust to condo life, but we’ll give it our best. He will be my walking/running partner, and my son will take him back to the house so he can play time in the big yard with his favourite purple ball. Keo and I have a strong bond and I’m looking forward to having him spend even more time with me.

I’m sitting here with a smile on my face. Life is good. I’m living the dream.

The Next Chapter

I like the analogy of life as a book with chapters. Some chapters are long, others are short, some are exciting, some you can’t wait to end. Every day is an opportunity to add to your current chapter or start a new one.

I’ve started a new one. I moved into my new home a week ago. I have dreamed of this day for at least five years. If you’ve read my blogs, you know I wasn’t in a good marriage. I didn’t want to disrupt my son’s life as he has a great relationship with his step-dad, so I wanted to wait until he graduated from high school. I couldn’t leave then because my dad still lived with us. When Dad moved into assisted living, there was nothing to stop me.

This new chapter is a time of adjustment. I didn’t think I’d “leave the nest” before my son, but it happened. He’s decided to stay at the house with his step-dad. I get it. All his stuff is there, it’s where he’s comfortable, it’s his home. He visits nearly every second day because, as he’s learning, my ex isn’t much for grocery shopping. The first thing he does when he arrives is go to the fridge, and then the pantry. I don’t mind. Before he leaves, I always get a hug. I commented that he’s hugging me more. “It’s because I don’t get to see you everyday.”

He and I are very close. I think me moving out is a good for him. It helps give him independence from me. He and his step-dad live as roommates. He has a great relationship with his step-dad, but even my son acknowledges I’ve always been the parent. When the time comes for him to move out of the house, he will be better prepared emotionally. Truth be told, as much as I love and miss my son, I’m enjoying the quiet and having a space completely my own.

In this new chapter, I get to put myself first. Maybe it’s something I should have done years ago, but as a wife, mother, and caregiver, it was difficult. Now, there’s nothing to stop me.

I chose a home that suited me and my dog. I’m decorating it in a way that makes ME happy. I love that, eventually, everything will have a place and will be in it. My place will always be clean and tidy. It will be filled with plants. I will do things as they suit me and not have someone telling me I’m doing it wrong or how I could be doing it differently. The people I invite into my home will be those who add to my life, not detract from it. It will be filled with happiness and contentment.

As with any new chapter, I’ve reflected and “reread” previous ones. Those are lived and written; there’s nothing I can do to change them. I’m still processing some thoughts and feelings I have about those chapters, and I’m excited to see where this new one takes me. It’s an emotional time. I’m fortunate to have a supportive partner and wonderful friends.

New job, new home, new exercise program – there’s a huge shift in the energy around me.

It feels good.

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

Emotional Opposites

How many times have you said “I don’t want to know?”

As my ongoing practice develops, I have started to explore the connections between what I am feeling in my body, my state of mind and current energy level. I work on my illusions and what to do about their existence within me.  I have learned a ton about myself through dream yoga. I learn even more through the exploration of the relationship of my subconscious messages being manifested through a feeling of anxiety, gut health and awareness of intentions. 

That’s a lot Vanessa, how do you expect us to understand all that? Lol, well let me try and explain what I mean. I have attachment to certain emotions. I am acutely aware of them entering my realm of feelings. I also observed the effect they are having on me at any given moment. Something happens or someone contacts me with a request or message, it triggers a  feeling and I find myself reverting back to a conditioned response. That response is based on the past and if examined it more closely it has no bearing on the present or future. It’s not logical nor probably true. The old me would have stayed on the concrete stairs (my dream where I just plod up and down the stairs) in a state of mindless self pity, depression, martyrdom or blissful avoidance. 

The new me? I have skills and tools that can help me to navigate the response to the request or message (“red slide response”see my dream post on taking the red path of working with obstacles to push forward). 

In the book, Kundalini-Yoga For The West by Swami Sivananda Radha, there is an exercise in chapter 6. The chapter is working through the Third Cakra-Manipura. This Cakra deals with the root of emotions( among other things). I am sure you have heard of “gut instinct” or “ I have a bad feeling about this”? Have you ever considered that your emotions are getting in the way of seeing situations for what they really are? The saying “I don’t want to know” has become a way for me to cope or coast through many obstacles in life. I can genuinely avoid accountability by saying “I didn’t know”. 

The chapter talks about how to examine your emotions that “cloud” your judgement on what is real or what is imagined. What you are afraid of versus what you choose not to see clearly or validate that which frightens you. Sometimes fear is good. It can keep you alive in certain situations and yet, sometimes it keeps you in a state of emotional paralysis without moving forward.

The exercise in chapter six talks about making a list of your common emotional responses to experiences. Once you have a list, think about the opposite emotion to each.

Here is an example- critical with the opposite being acceptance or frustration with the opposite of satisfied. 

Now you have a couple of examples: how would you change the negative narrative into something positive?

Critical and acceptance- Feedback is neither good nor bad. The source of truth about myself comes from within. All life is precious and deserves compassion. 

Frustration and satisfied- Understanding comes from reflection and a sense of knowing. Knowing leads to satisfaction.

The above is only one of the many exercises in the chapter and the book. It has helped me work through my conditioned responses. Once you open the window to this kind of sight all of the sudden all sorts of doors appear that previously were invisible options. It has taken years to build up these walls. I know they won’t come down just because I can see they exist. I do know, however, that nothing is permanent. Desire, awareness, determination and persistence are part of my being. My emotions that once clouded my judgement or view of what is real versus what is imagined don’t need to define how I move forward now. I have caught on to this scam that was created in my mind and now I have a choice to say “ I don’t know” or to take action based on a desire to understand.

Namaste

Food For Thought

For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful…

One of the habits that was practiced at the ashram was to eat your food in silence. When you are not distracted by talking, it’s an opportunity to concentrate on what and how you are feeding your body. Along with silence, the regular times of eating three meals a day, less meat more vegetables, fruit and alternate sources of protein were followed. My body responded well to the routines and I have tried to keep them up now that I am home. I have noticed that when I don’t eat on time, my stomache lets me know. I consider that great progress for me.

Another ritual I, and others, noticed is how individuals approach the act of eating or better yet, what you do before you eat. We were all pretty curious in regards to this and asked each other at one group gathering if they had a ritual or practice they followed before they ate? Some responded that they pray over their food, some say a mantra or chant, some make a sign over the food like a blessing and others, like me, just start eating. I didn’t want to change my habits, in this regard, while I was there as I felt it wouldn’t be genuine. I was, however, curious as to those that had a ritual or prayer what did it entail?

I remember, as a kid, my dad having a prayer he said “for what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly grateful. May it nourish and strenghthen our bodies. Amen”. I know there are numerous versions of this traditional prayer on the internet. This is the version I heard as a child. It was said in a monotone voice and I never considered it to be anything more than habit that lacked any true sincerity. I think that’s the key in the having this kind of ritual. The belief behind the act. I think I understand the mechanics. It’s an opportunity to focus in, become aware that you are about to intake a substance into your body. To your body you want it to pay attention to the offering and make the most of it. Set an intention as to what to do with the resource. How best to distribute it to the various areas of the human system. I know this all happens automatically without any intervention and yet, does it make a difference if our conscious takes part in what our subconscious does? Verbal communication from the sound of your voice, brain and body has been studied in depth with remarkable connections. Since this ritual would happen at least, three times a day, it has the opportunity to be impactful to changes in habit and consumption.

Those that had a pre-consumption practice at the ashram varied. When they shared the details I was intrigued. One had a prayer they had created. It recognized the source of the food, it asked that the food help the person to use the energy in the best possible way to honor it’s sacrifice. It blessed those that had prepared the food and set the intention that the person eating the contribution would pay it forward in their actions. I like that. Someone else meditated with the food a few minutes before consuming. They manifested how it would help them, how it would serve their body, mind and spirit.

I didn’t choose a ritual to adapt while I was there. I am, though, more aware what is going into my system and my intended use of that energy. If you are like me, in the past I ate while watching TV, reading a book or text, scrolling social media, working, bathing ( yep even the tub had no boundaries). Mindless consumption of anything I put before me. I am aware of the behavior now and can see it trying to needle its way back into my efforts to change. To help me combat that I eat my breakfast and lunch in a quiet room with no distractions. I do, silently, give thanks for the nourishment. I ask my body to make the most of the offering. I am more aware of the chatter inside my head that goes on while I eat. “To do” lists for the day, things I want to explore and other distractions. I treat eating like a meditation and call back the attention to the task as I would call back my attention to my breath. The intention to help make me stronger, healthier and bring a sense of gratitude helps me to focus. Gratitude, that for me and my family, food is plentiful and available. We are privileged to choose from a wide variety and even grow much of our own vegetables if we desire.

Do you have any rituals related to food? Comment If you do as I would love to know what others think of this topic.

Namaste

Community

Beach at Yasodhara ashram.

Community Support

What’s next for me? I have been thinking about what I want to do and how I plan to contribute. 

My husband and I had an interesting conversation the other day. His thinking is that you contribute to society by going to work,don’t complain to outsiders, pay your taxes, obey the rules and mind your own business if you can. He isn’t wrong. 

I have had a chance in my life to see a variety of communities as I travel, work, live in and explore different cultures. I would be curious to see how this pandemic has influenced the communities I adored.

What does it mean to be part of a community? What does it mean to support or be supported by those within a community? Where are you going with this you might be asking?

Here are two examples to help me explain what I mean:

Scenario One:

You have many projects on the go and numerous obligations/commitments that you are currently juggling.Your mom passes away. You are devastated. You contact work and they agree to let you take a couple of weeks off. You are reminded that there are services available to help you and even are sent a link to conveniently take advantage of them. You are also reminded to input your time off in the HR system and if you can make notes on your current projects so that someone else can pick them up if time permits. Sorry for your loss, we are here for you. We have noticed a slip in your productivity lately but we can talk about that when you come back. 

Scenario Two:

I have just come out of a class at the ashram and looked at my phone. My husband texted me that he has been admitted to the hospital with COVID and shows an image of his wrist with a hospital band on it. I don’t have a vehicle with me and no means of leaving the ashram. I am upset. The teacher of the class comes out of the building at that moment and sees me upset. She asked what’s wrong and I told her. She insisted we sit on the steps. She asked me if I have phoned the hospital yet? I haven’t so I do that first. The hospital says my husband was discharged earlier. I phoned home and got no answer. The whole time the teacher is silently sitting beside me with her hand on my shoulder. I turn to her and say that I will be “ok” and she can go. She insists that she will stay until we have a resolution. After contacting my kids and relatives that can go check on my husband, I find out that he was admitted but not for COVID. He had cut himself while trimming a tree and got stitches. I finally got of hold of him and he apologized for the joke. He was making a joke. During the whole ordeal I was experiencing I felt supported by the teacher. She didn’t leave and kept prompting me as to what to do next. Offering encouragement and suggestions and even reminding that even If I did have a means of transportation I couldn’t see him as he would be isolated. She helped me to realize and work through the situation. I had two weeks left in my stay which was good. At home, I would have been isolated from my husband for 14 days. She followed up later and texted me the next day to make sure I was still ok. She let others know that I needed extra support and connected me with them. I was in crisis mode not able to help myself or think through the most practical ways to cope with the stress. I didn’t need to as I had community support to help me.

I realized for the first time in my life what community support entails. I am very independent to a fault and asked very little of others to help me. It’s a learned behavior which has really not been very helpful to say the least. Can you see the difference in what it means to be supported by a community here? I know the scenarios are not the same. Work is work and you really shouldn’t expect anyone to offer that kind of experience in a professional setting. I am curious then, why do we have slogans like “We are in this together?” We are a company that supports mental health? Our foundation is built on trust, empathy and compassion. Hmmmmmmm.

My mother was the 5th person to die in my life in under 4 years. The trauma built up in my mind, body and spirit was overwhelming. Some days it still is. How long does it take to stop griefing? How much time should one take off of work to work through the pain? There isn’t a right answer here. What I have noticed is that it takes time. The more you try to suppress your grief the more time it will take to unravel the impact. You can store it in dark places or “cracks” in your foundation. Just know that It won’t go away permanently. It will probably reappear when you least want it to.

I find myself gathering pockets of community support now that I understand the value it can offer me. I can find it by staying connected to the ashram. I can find it by reaching out to friends and family. I find it often in this community of bloggers, the wonderful ladies I blog with and comments from strangers that I have helped them in some way.  It doesn’t have to be work related though I would challenge you to question the next co-worker or leader that says to you “ I/we am/are here for you”. What do they mean by “here”?

I am reminded of day 2 in quarantine at the ashram. I was told “You have to learn how to trust” and with that “You have to ask for what you need”. Words of wisdom when it comes to understanding of community and being immersed in warmth of genuine support. I don’t blame the corporation for not understanding my state of mental health nor have any expectations of companys to build a genuine state of community support. It would be hard to juggle productivity, profits and being human feelings.

PS. It has taken 7 months to get this far in unravelling my emotions and how much the death of loved ones has contributed to my “coma” state of existence over the last several years. We live in a society of instant resolution to our pain. We numb up with substances and mindless stimulation. It takes courage and discipline to feel raw emotions and work through them until they no longer paralyze you. It’s worth it though. The work is worth it and community support is worth finding and cultivating.

Namaste

Doesn’t “Calm” Come First?

I haven’t been very active in this blog for the past couple of months. My life has taken some unexpected, sudden turns and I feel like I’ve missed the “calm” and have landed firmly into the “storm”.

Some of the storm is physical – my dad moving into long-term care, my roommate deciding to buy me out of our home, finding a new home, getting ready to move, and work projects coming fast and furious.

Some of it is emotional – feeling as though I’ve let Dad down (even though he’s the one who asked to move), angry at my roommate (soon to be ex-husband), frustrated from dealing with him, excited about my new place, sad that my CrossFit gym is permanently closing (thank you Covid), and happy with how things are going in my current relationship.

Some of it is mental – I find myself paralyzed by indecision. I’ve never had the opportunity to purchase and set up a home just for *me*. What do I like? How do I want to set it up? What works for *me*?

I alternate between feeling as though I have everything in order and, like today, feeling as though everything is out of control. It’s uncomfortable.

I try to get comfortable through “to do” lists. I love the sense of completion I get when I can cross something off the list. Thing is, the closer I get to the closing date, the longer the “to do” list seems to grow. It feels like a hurricane increasing strength as it moves towards land.

Will the storm’s strength decrease before it reaches land, or will it hit land and wreak havoc?

I need to stay on top of my self-talk and reflect on what I’m feeling.

Yes, I feel overwhelmed. I need to focus on what needs to be done *right now* and not think too far into the future. What do I need to get done today?…tomorrow?

I need to focus on creating a new home and filling it with things that sustain my physical, emotional, and mental well-being and rather than dwelling on what I’m leaving behind.

I need to remember that – yes – as I pack and realize I have a lot of “stuff”, I don’t have to unpack it all in one day. It’ll be OK to move things and decide it doesn’t serve me anymore. Reduce, reuse, and recycle – I can do that anywhere.

I can peruse Pinterest to get ideas for setting up my new home. Or, I can set up the rooms next week and feel free to change my mind as I live in the space.

I may not have experienced a calm before the storm, but I feel there’s a tremendous calm waiting for me after it.

Take The Red Path Home

One of the interesting things about living in an ashram for a couple of months is when you stop living in an ashram. Everything around you is up for review, observance, reflection and most importantly awareness. I started to panic a bit and imagine all sorts of reasons why I would lose what I had gained. All the work I had done on staying present and building an arsenal of tools I can use to help me in my everyday life as well as my interactions with others. Once the panic tempered, it took a while and a lot of repeating “I am functioning from my centre” (chant for clarity in Kundalini system-3rd Cakra Manipura), mantras such as Om Nama Sivaya(remover of obstacles) and staying connected to the ashram through classes (started my first Zoom class on dreams last Sunday).

I am confident, now, that I can do this. Stay with my practices for me, stay aware for me and stay connected to the community. By doing all of this, I can be there and hold space for others. I look around me, listen to how those in my life are fairing right now. New COVID restrictions just came into place that make it almost impossible to be with family and friends. I have observed that most are very tired. The desire to induce a coma state is appealing. Take something (choose your drug) to help you sleep, wake up, go to work, spend a good portion of your day doing something that sucks your energy up like a sponge. Come home, eat whatever is available or order something, at a distance of course, sit in front of your favorite medium of choice-TV, On-line video or series, take something and go to sleep again. On your days off? Take something to ease the realization that you can’t go anywhere or do anything outside of your living space.

Do I have it right? This could very well be our lives for the foreseeable future. What if we choose a different path?

I am working with a dream I had a couple of weeks before I left the ashram. I won’t go into the details ( if you want to look at it,it’s the blog called “ Can you read the signs?”).  I have been working with one symbol from it. The red slide that the little girl and I enter to try and find a way out of the stairwell. 

Here is an excerpt from the dream…

The tube- It’s red and goes down for a bit then raises up. That’s where we get stuck. 

Trying to go up. I can see the stairwell at that point as there is a window in the tube which shows that we are by the stairwell. I am in front of the girl in the tube and it’s me that gets stuck and decides to turn back. She has to scootch backward for us to get out of the tube.

I was curious about the color of the tube. It’s bright red, like the ones that I used to see on the playground when my kids were little. It’s inviting and playful if you want it to be. It can also be hard to navigate if you build up friction or don’t have enough momentum to push yourself forward.

The fact that the tube goes down for a bit and then has a connector that veers upward is telling. 

When I choose a path like this one, at first, all seems fine. It’s an easy down hill slide. I gather some speed and get to work doing whatever it is I want to accomplish. Somewhere in the middle though the obstacles or challenges start to appear. In the dream it’s the upward “kink”. At the junction I noticed a window that opens up to the adjacent stairwell. The same stairwell that I know is familiar and easy to navigate. It’s appealing to just revert back in the tube and walk the stairwell instead. That’s what we do in the dream. We retrace our steps until we find the solid cement ground of the stairwell. Head down, feet firmly planted we begin to go up and down the stairs once again. Nothing changes, no one comes, no one goes and we are unaware of time passing.

Does life feel like this for you? A stairwell you can’t seem to get out off? The challenge is that it’s comfortable and easy. The child, in the dream, seems ok with our progress or lack of progress of finding a way out or coming across her parents. It’s safe and secure.

I am curious what would have happened if we kept going in the red tunnel? What was beyond the connection going up? I know I can use this analogy in my life. I react too quickly to changes. Too willing to abandon the progress and revert back to the stairwell of comfort. I can walk without thought or exertion. The red tube is potential that I am not exploring. Red means creativity, life source, motion, pumping blood to the heart. The tube is more narrow than the stairwell, less ways to escape if it doesn’t work out for me. Yet, what it connects too could open up into a world I have yet to explore. 

I am working on creating the scenarios in my life that encourage red tube options. I have started some Karma Yoga for the ashram from home. My musical background has come in handy with doing some mixing of some of the Bhajans (devotional music) to share back with others in the ashram. I continue to contribute through videos and editing and stay connected with the residence. This path doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It can be both here in my home and there in spirit. It’s a relief to know that I can navigate the red paths while still keeping my sight on the stairwell that runs alongside them.

Find a way to stay awake, stay connected and feed your heart and soul. I have gained so much and I am determined to keep learning. To build on it and explore how to maintain my divine inner light.

Namaste