Light a Candle

Lighting candles creates sacred space. It is an ancient ritual, and when you light a candle, the atmosphere in the room changes. The gesture elevates us. The ordinary takes on new shape with its new luminescence and the room feels different.

I learned this from a teacher I had in a continuing education class. She always brought in a little tea light, placed it next to her, and lit it at the beginning of every class. Though a small gesture, it changed the dynamics of the room. The candlelight gave us focus and encouragement as the evening proceeded with exploration of spiritual topics.

Lighting candles is a gesture of hope. We light candles to illuminate the darkness, to lift up our prayers, to ask for blessings, to ask for guidance, to acknowledge our intentions, and to remember those who have gone before us. Lighting a candle is sending out a little signal to God. Hey, I’m still here. I’m trying my best. I’m sending my little prayer up to You. Please see me.

When we light candles, it is a sign of devotion. It is a sign of renewed hope. It may be a remembrance, a prayer, a plea, or a humble thank you that we are sending out into the universe. It is our effort to create a little personal light while embracing a bigger one.

How do we bring this candle lighting ritual into our daily lives? Tea lights help. They are portable. They burn out by themselves. They are readily available. It’s easy to find glass holders for them that add brilliance and color. (I’m enjoying crackle glass holders right now.) Of course for those who prefer traditional candles, there are all shapes and sizes available, too.

When we start the day by lighting a candle, we are sending out our own personal light of hope into the world. And when we end the day with the same ritual, we give reflection and gratitude to the day past. It adds sacredness to the ordinary.

 

 

You’re One in a Million and More

You’re one in a million. Actually you’re 1 of 7,655,041,631 people in the world as of 8:30 AM on Sunday, October 7, 2018. If you live in the U.S., you are 1 of 327,390,653. If you don’t believe me, go and look up the population of the world or of a specific country in real time on the world population clock at http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/  

So when you’re feeling not so special, think about this. Scientists estimate that the odds of you being born are 1 in 400 trillion. Yep, 1 in 400 trillion!! (I don’t even need to cite this statistic because it is so widely believed and noted by many scientists.)

Still not sure how unique you are? Here are 4 stats from Ted Talks speaker and HuffPost Life contributing author Mel Robbins on the probability of being born:

  1. Probability of your parents meeting:  1 in 20,000
  2. Probability of your parents meeting resulting in the birth of a child/you:  1 in 2,000
  3. Probability of the right sperm meeting the right egg: 1 in 400 quadrillion
  4. Probability of your ancestors having reproduced successfully: 1 in 10.
  5. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/probability-being-born_b_877853.

So why does this matter? Because you matter. It took a miracle to get you here. And we forget that. We forget how the odds were stacked against us even being created. Yet, here we are. We are the ones who made it on a wing and a prayer. We got the opportunity to come into this world. We were born. We are living and breathing miracles.

So what are you going to do with your time here? Of course, that is the big question that will continue to haunt us. This question does not have one answer, but it has many. And the answers change over time. But the guiding principle is the same – make the most of our time here. Life itself is an improbable gift. Give back as much as you can. Be present. Eyes wide open. Be loving. Embrace others. Be kind. Extend a helping hand. Be adventurous. Go see the world. Be curious. Learn as much as you can. Be grateful. Grow your faith and your spirit. Be healthy. Treat your body well. Be the best you that you can be. Just Be.

 

 

In Spring, Everything Is Full of Promise

Spring, oh I love you, Spring! Nature’s rebirth is our seasonal blessing! What joy to see your greenery once again! What happiness to breathe your fragrance once again! What contentment to hear your birds in the morning once again! What reassurance to feel your soft turf under our weary feet! Our senses come alive and we drink you in in big gulps of gratitude. For Spring is the season of hope and the season of promise. And I love it because it restores my soul through its resilient persistence. It always shows up.

So you may say that all seasons are special. All seasons are unique. True enough. But what other season brings back life? Only spring. It is our metaphor for the human condition. That hope will return.

Spring and hope are intertwined in the mind, body, and soul. In spring, nature conspires with biology and psychology to spark the basic needs that underlie hope: attachment, mastery, survival, and spirituality. It is true that hope does not melt away in the summer; it is not rendered fallow in autumn nor does it perish in the deep freeze of winter. But none of these other seasons can match the bounty of hope that greets us in the spring. (Anthony Scioli PhD, in Psychology Today, March 20, 2012)

Spring brings light. Light brings clarity. Light brings hope. Light brings healing. Spring, by example, inspires us to be whole and full and beautiful. To be our best and brightest selves. Spring pulls us out of the depths of our personal winters back into the light of hope – just like Persephone rising in Greek mythology from the Underworld every spring. We rejoice, we rejoice.

Louis Armstrong’s celebration of spring in his song “What a Wonderful World” says it all:

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

Oh, yeah….

 

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the unexpected. As children, we do this naturally. The world is full of wonder. It is exciting and unpredictable. New experiences are around every corner.  And we are open inside to embrace them. And as children, we don’t mind some mystery in our daily existence. We accept it as a part of life.

Adulthood has a different tenor. Predictability takes center stage. We create it. We nurture it. We sustain it.

I am not saying that predictability is bad. It isn’t. It’s a long road in this world to achieve stability (especially for an empath). What I am suggesting though is that stability can include the predictable and the unpredictable. The expected and unexpected can co-exist as twin flames, as yin and yang. And understanding and embracing both experiences leads to a fuller participation in this world.

Who helped me to embrace the unexpected well into adulthood? A cat. Yes, a little black kitten came into my life, and she developed a special talent. She leaps on you. Out of the blue. From a distance. From behind, from above, from below. Sometimes even a quiet running down the hall and jumping leap. She always lands on your shoulder or upper back. Good aim. Scared and surprised me the first time that it happened. But now I can smile because I see the lesson behind the leap. She helps me expect the unexpected, literally – helps me stay grounded and tuned in to my environment – two traits that this empath needs to be reminded of. And I recognize that some surprise pounces can add a little zip to my day.

Expecting the unexpected leads to awareness and can also lead to growth and creativity.

Creativity cannot flourish if we keep seeing only the things we expect to see. If we want to be creative, we must keep ourselves surprised; we must embrace uncertainty and actively look for the unexpected.           ~ Lidor Wyssocky

My cat sees adventure around every corner. And when we expect the unexpected, we see it too.

Uh….Yes, Your Words Matter – Part 2

Words can save you. Their power is immeasurable. We remember the right words that are uttered at the right moment because they stay with us. We remember the words that help us to keep moving forward when we are so tired. We remember the words that verify our own unique place in life. We remember the words that tell us that yes, we matter, and yes, we are worth it, and that yes, we are loved .

When we need them most, we can recall the words that were told to us, and we can recite them internally or out loud. And they save us again and again. Because the words spoken to another become part of the listener’s history and a part of their story. So, we must be mindful to use our words carefully and thoughtfully at critical moments in someone’s life. The moment will pass, but the words spoken will live on.

Think about the most meaningful words ever spoken to you. You know what they are, and you know why they mean so much. They affirm a part of you. Here are mine. “In my family, we love seldom and deeply, and I love you.” – when learning to trust in love again. “You are a mighty oak.” – when doubting my own inner strength. “Can I copy your paper as a good example to show other students?” – when unsure if I hit the mark in my writing. “We had such wonderful times together.” – when my mother said good bye to me for the last time. These are all simple words, simple sentences. But they mean the world to me because they were spoken by people who I trusted and who believed in me. So I believed in me too.

Words and emotions are linked. We remember words with the emotions of the moment when they were spoken. This is true for everyone, though empaths often notice the emotions first and the words second. We feel it, and then we hear it. But either way, the words and emotions are imprinted on us to be recalled at will in times of need. Like a prayer.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” -Mother Teresa

Amen.

Sacred Space….at Home

“Whether you’re religious, non-religious, or anything in between, a sacred space can help you pause, unplug, and reflect on the only work that really matters: loving the world, practicing gratitude, and being kind to yourself. 

Having a designated space in your home for prayer, meditation, or private reflection can be a constant reminder of how important it is to cultivate this sense of awe and wonder in your life.” ~ Carol Kuruvilla (How to Create a Sacred Space in Your Home, 3/04/16,Huffpost.com)

You may think, “sounds good” or “yeah, right, nice idea, but how would I ever do that?” Believe me, it IS doable in your home, and in your life.

Start by thinking about your home environment. You can start small, and grow your space as needed. Do you have a favorite chair or place in your home that you go to regularly to pause, pray or think? Do you have a desk or table where you sit to read, write, or draw what is deeply personal to you? Do you have a special pillow that you hold when you need strength or patience? Have you (perhaps unconsciously) started to add to this space with meaningful items?

My “sacred space” didn’t start that way. It started as a card table shoved in the corner of the bedroom to put my computer on. But then, I started to add personal and meaningful things to my space very gradually. Guided by spirit, and with intention, the space changed. Bit by bit, I added photos, seashells, crystals, drawings, a pitcher, candles, and words of inspiration. My space became a sacred space designed just for me. It is where I sit and where I write. It is where I feel the most me in my own home.

I’ll close with a quote I recently read from India.Arie about the importance of sacred space at home (O Mag, June 2017). “We all need sacred space. It’s important to have a place where you can recharge.  Everybody’s is different, but I do think it should entail quiet because it needs to be where you hear your spirit most clearly. For me, that’s the prayer room in my apartment.  And since my home is 700 square feet, I mean the coat closet near the front door.”

 

Lighthouses

What is the draw of lighthouses? Aren’t they past their time? Why are we still drawn to them? What is it about that beacon of light that still pulls us in? What is it about a building that continues to speak to us?

I spent some time this past weekend visiting lighthouses with my sister. They were all over 100 years old. Some were retired, and some were still operational. Some were in disrepair, and some were restored. Yet, I found them all beautiful.

I think that lighthouses are a strong symbol for us. They literally are the lights in a storm. They exist to help and guide you to safety. To remind you that you are not alone. They are an eternal visual symbol of hope. Hope that you can get to shore. You can weather the storm. You can complete this leg of your journey. Don’t give up.

I did some internet sleuthing on lighthouses, and I found this on Reference.com. “Because they are constructed to withstand powerful storms, lighthouses are frequently depicted as symbols of strength. They are also used to symbolize shelter, protection and peace for the same reason. Lighthouses expose the connection between inanimate structures and human emotion in a way that few other buildings can.”

And yet for all their guidance, sometimes the ship crashes, the boat sinks, and there are injuries and casualties. It’s a reminder that life is hard, there is heartache, and things don’t always work out as planned. But we notice that the lighthouse will still stand, and its light will still shine. There will be a tomorrow, and life will go on. When we survive a “shipwreck” we acknowledge that unexpected disaster can strike. There are no guarantees of smooth sailing in life.

I think that lighthouses remind us that hope and light will continue to exist. Lighthouses may become non-operational, but the idea of their guiding light lives on. The guiding light is faith. And faith’s hope and light are eternal. Who doesn’t love a forever light?

For Love of the Underdog

Highly sensitive people especially love underdog stories. The ones where against all odds the underdog triumphs. And it isn’t easy. In fact, it’s really, really hard. Of course it is. That’s why it’s an underdog story.

An underdog is defined in Google definitions as “a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or a contest,” and as “a person who has little status in society.” Synonyms are “long shot” and “dark horse.”

We love underdog stories because they are full of emotion, and empaths welcome the opportunity to travel with the underdog and their emotions. The tales can captivate us like no others, and we can let all of our empathy loose freely. It is a cathartic process. With a happy ending.

We all have our favorite underdogs. We see them in sports, in music, in history, in science, in myths, in fiction, and sometimes in our own families. Popular culture and the rise of films and social media have made underdog stories accessible to the general public world wide. We know the famous underdogs who have risen from poverty or prejudice or historical conflict. Their stories captivate us. They bear repeating again and again. They give us hope on a grander scale.

What underdog stories speak to you? Why? How do they give you hope? How do they encourage you to follow your own unique path….despite the odds? Watch films about them. Read stories of inspiration about them. Let your emotions experience their turmoil and triumph. You may see an amplified version of what you are experiencing in your life. Draw strength from them. What did they face that you are also facing? What drove them to continue chasing their dreams despite many roadblocks? And why is their story showing up in your life right now?

I’ll leave you with an inspiring quote from a famous underdog. It is taped to my refrigerator. “You are a composite of all the things you believe, and all the places you believe you can go. Your past does not define you.  You can step out of your history and create a new day for yourself.  Even if the entire culture is saying, ‘You can’t.’ Even if every single bad thing that can happen to you does. You can keep going forward.” – Oprah Winfrey….living proof.