Saturday, February 17, 2024

Taking Things Personally


How much suffering do you want to take on in this life?  If it’s a lot, then continue to take everything personally.  If it’s not a lot, then consider something very important before you take things personally.  We sometimes get this idea in our heads that just because we would never do or say something like X unless we disrespected someone, doesn’t mean other people think or behave in the same way.  By our very nature, we are born to monitor and look for patterns in our surroundings to keep ourselves safe.  But when we make too many automatic assumptions about others and their intent (which we can’t with 100% certainty ever know), we actually cause our own suffering. 


If someone cuts you off on the highway, and you get angry – you’ve taken things personally.  You have absolutely no idea what’s going on for that person.  They could be on their way to the hospital to say goodbye to a loved one.  They could be on their way to day care to pick up a sick child.  They could have just lost their job or are running late for an interview.  Should they drive carelessly?  No. But you see, when things trigger our emotions and urgency, we do sometimes lose our ability to do things or say things with any amount of normal care.  Are some people just careless as a part of their nature?  Sure.  But none of that is about you is all I’m saying.


A part of our ego sometimes revels in the idea of catching others doing something wrong as if that might lift us in status in some way.  It doesn’t. What you see in others is filtered through what?  Your experience and your own intimate and personal awareness of your own short comings.  But wait, isn’t there a right and wrong here?  Sure, sometimes there is but also, sometimes that realm of right and wrong can differ from person to person and justifiably so given their situation, life experience and also their psychological state at any given moment.


Definitive truths in human interactions is hard to pin down especially when you are sure that your assumptions are facts just because they come from within your own mind.  Your deductions based on the limited information you observe do not equate to definitive truth.  When you understand that, you start to understand situations more, spool up less and your compassion and tolerance grows.  Why would you want that?  Well, intolerance, distrust, accusation, and anger all have their place but if you are living your life with the energy of those thoughts controlling the filter through which you see the world every moment of every day, you could be making yourself and those around you quite miserable.


We assume intention often but you can’t know someone’s intention with certainty so why let your mind take it to that level?  You punish yourself so much when you create a framework where everyone and everything is out to get you or ruin your day. Sometimes bad or rough things happen.  It isn’t necessarily personal, and I’d argue that even when someone attempts to make it personal with intention, you have to realize all the years of potentially detrimental psychology that person has lived with to come to that point where they may take issue with intention with you and your presence at a certain time or place.


I’m all for standing up for yourself and for what you believe in for sure.  But belief, please understand, is provisional truth at best. Belief is a hypothesis.  I’m not talking faith and religion here. That’s a whole other matter I’d prefer not to bring into this discussion at this time. Think more psychology – simpler like the thought process of – my husband didn’t take out the trash, therefore, he doesn’t love me and expects me to do all of the work in this house alone.  He lives here too.  Why should I do all of the work?  The thing is, hubby may be busy with other things.  So, if you want the trash out right this second – do it yourself or ask him again when you can tell he isn’t preoccupied.  Taking the trash out when asked does not prove love to begin with.  Love is bigger than that.  I’m not suggesting we don’t set boundaries on what we will and will not tolerate but understand what love is and isn’t.  If my imaginary situation is one that you have faced or feel, you might want to instead have a talk with your spouse rather than assume lack of love or care.  Assumptions, and we all do it – are part of the problem.


We assume so naturally, but we can’t know 360 degrees of a person or their intentions by assumption alone.  I find dealing in facts keeps me from constantly being disappointed by others.  I also find expressing my needs up front rather than trying to catch someone with proof they don’t love me is time better spent.  In my life, I have faced both intentional and unintentional slights or bad behavior.  Because I value my peace, I choose to see both as not about me.  I have developed a pretty good sense of self and I know that no one on this planet can know me at a 360 degree level.  So, their insult is not something I need to take on board.  If I’m concerned about truth in their words, I can own up to my actions or behavior without that threatening me at the core level of my being.  Most of the time though, I understand that someone who calls me names is telling the world more about the state of their own psychology than they are telling the world about me.


I mean, I am certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but if someone wants to see a monster in me, that’s on them and doesn’t bear out as the definitive truth about me.  If I get caught up in collateral damage by the unthinking actions of others, I’m not always quick to anger and even if I do become angry, I won’t act or react on that anger without first trying my best to see the truth of a situation.  Once I see that my own assumptions cannot be validated about a person or thing – again, since I value my own personal peace, I’m more likely to set the matter on ignore and walk away.  I choose understanding over asserting my ego for its version of right or wrong because I know me and my ego is wholly incapable of doing that accurately.


A few more parting thoughts on the matter…have you ever done something stupid, insensitive, uncaring or even cringy?  We all have as we have made our way through life.  Our mistakes are how we learn.  When someone “transgresses” in my view, I am likely to be compassionate and understanding – meaning, I’m not going to get crazy angry or feel bad about myself to the point I get angry.  I may be disappointed and I may choose to set boundaries so I don’t suffer further unthinking or bad behavior but I will do my level best to maintain my balance and equanimity.  Somethings just hurt in life and that is what it is but “hurting someone back” will never, ever remove the pain or other emotion that you suffered and any attempt at vengeance for a perceived slight whether intentionally or unintentionally committed will never un-mark that pivotal moment in your interaction.  Your energy is better spent understanding the emotion an action evoked in you rather than engaging in further battle.  In life, battle is all some people know and due to psychology, it’s the only way they know how to interact with others and it’s very likely – unhealthy. To continue to engage with some people in a tit-for-tat exchange is truly beneath you, won’t change that person or their behavior and is really not the best use of your energy.


From a bigger picture perspective, those things in life that vex you the most, the things that trigger that feeling of incredulous within you – those are all messages to you from you that you have wounds inside that need your time, attention and great care.  We all carry these.  It’s part of living life on Earth.  But when you strive for understanding both for yourself and another, you can home in on what is best for you in a moment.  Maintaining peace is a beautiful thing.  Engaging in battle often leads to escalation, chaos and worse.  Step back.  Take a breath.  Pause for a moment. See what within you can thoughtfully respond.  Ask yourself if this or that thing is really the thing you want to take personally.  Is there a basis inside of you that is easily triggered?  Do you know that if you figure out what those things are and strive to understand and heal them, no one can ever trigger you to unconsciously take things personally again?  Wow!  That is a powerful thing to possess – healing, the ability to stop, think, and respond to a situation (walking away or not saying a word is also a response).


So yeah, if you value your peace, don’t take things personally.  Things don’t always go the way we think they should. That doesn’t mean that we are bad, wrong or whatever.  It just means this or that interaction isn’t going as planned. So, stop, consider, reset and strive for something different, better or healthy for you.  You matter as does every human on this planet no matter how attractive of repulsive you find certain folks.  We are all part of a whole living here in this giant Earth School at this time.  We need to learn how to de-escalate and honestly, that begins best within and a starting point is not taking things so personally.


I wish you peace, I wish you love, I wish you the greatest understanding, and the deepest compassion.  You’ve got this!


© 2024 Jaie Hart (photo and words)

Friday, February 16, 2024

My Spiritual Journey


Often at times in my life, I’ve had this deep almost visceral feeling that there just has to be more to this life than working, raising kids, eating right and exercise.  For many years, I’d have to say I was on a spiritual quest.  Along the way, I’d have to say that I came across some pretty amazing things, unexplainable things, and things you wouldn’t believe even if I were to explain in great detail.  But, at the end of the day – none of the things that I discovered satisfied that inner feeling that there was something more. 


I’ve had plenty of subtle hints left at perfectly timed and pivotal moments of my life.  But as I sit here today, I feel like all the different shoes I tried on to walk that path, didn’t take me anywhere I didn’t have access to all along within me.  Nothing in the “New Age” or even purported ancient teachings brought me what I was looking for.  There was still that feeling of home, like I’m missing it terribly that sometimes washed over me.  I can’t really explain it well enough to give it proper meaning and in nearly 60 years of this life journey, I’ve not run across anything outside of me that quells that feeling entirely.


However, there were often things that I could do from time to time that satisfied that longing for a time.  It wasn’t teachers, books, classes or chasing knowledge.  It was something by far more simple. Believe it or not, getting up early to have a quiet moment to watch the miracle of the Earth turning into the sun and then again, at the end of the day, seemingly turning away from it while watching a miraculous fiery display of light in every warm color imaginable at sunset did it for me.  Other things too, like noticing the quality of light etching the leaves on trees, a blade of grass or a simple weed, it brought me a sense of that feeling of home.


In quiet meditation, I have found much solace and comfort for that feeling.  Other things impacted it positively as well like holding a new born, stroking a fluffy kitten or playing with a bouncy land-shark puppy or rising above a vexing psychological matter in myself or others – all of these things seemed to quell that longing a bit.


If I’m honest, I’d say my spiritual journey was a grand disappointment on one hand.  It took me down many pathways and rabbit holes.  It had me spending time and money on what equated to snake oil.  At the point I discovered I wasn’t finding what I was looking for, the path disappeared and pointed me right back to myself.  Not a bad thing but an unexpected thing.  Some other things I learned along the way (random truths - at least truths for me):


1.     Everyone holds dark and light within them.  There is no point decrying the darkness in others when we are holding our own darkness either in ignorance or denial. Remember – what you see is because it is within you to understand.

2.      True love is as it has forever been – inside of you and readily available at any time you become willing to dig deep inside and find it.

3.     Whatever seemingly calls to you in the outside world comes from within you – nothing in the outside world will bring you as much as if you explore your own inner depths and seek understanding – your personal whys.

4.     We are One at many levels – we all co-experience this frame, this Earth and each other.  Ego gratification never truly soothes the soul but the Ego isn’t something to be destroyed either.  It’s best understood as a necessary part of us during our travels here on Earth.  It’s best to make friends with it, accept it, and in a way maybe to tame it with love.

5.     Finding self-love enough to stand on your own two feet and make your way through life in confidence and compassion can take you far in terms of understanding the meaning of your life.

6.     While there may be this grand design in life, you will never definitively know it.  You are best served finding within your life -  all of those things that you are truly grateful for, treasuring and appreciating those things and then learning what you can do to give something to this world and Her inhabitants rather than figuring out ways to take things from this world and Her inhabitants.

7.     You are entitled to nothing here in the Earth School. You are given a body.  You are given consciousness.  Everything from there stems from your earnest effort and seeking to understand your life lessons.  Right action, right thinking and right presence is required to succeed (and know that even when you fail, you are learning so – that can still be right for your at parts of your unique journey).

8.     It’s okay to feel however you feel.  You can wallow in darkness for the entirety of your life.  You can find ways to understand and then shatter the darkness that you feel in your life.  You can walk in the light understanding that even when the sun shines unobstructed, you may not feel it – walk any way.  Keep going.  Never give up.  Never quit.  Always have faith in yourself to master your life.

9.     Grief is real here and you must learn to process it.  We come in at different times and we go at different times.  If we fight change too hard, our grief will be protracted.  Learn from your grief and understand that the depth and level of your grieving is very likely equal to your love.  Seek help if you should struggle.  Help is there for you if you seek it.

10.  Never fall into the trap of equating your worth based on what you observe in others. Envy is a trap as is keeping up with the Jone’s.  Your path is uniquely yours.  Find your gifts that are unique to you and appreciate them. Focus inward and what you have to work with and not what you think others are given. Remember, you are entitled to nothing in this life.  But you do have free will.  Use it wisely without circumventing or imposing on the free will of others.


After many years of searching, I’d have to say I willingly stepped off the path.  I came to terms with much uncertainty and worked hard to grow comfortable with change.  As I got older, energy began to wane some, lines and wrinkles appeared as did glorious and sparkly silver strands comprising the covering of my head (I spent so many years dying all manner of shades and still do today just for the fun of it). Change is a constant.  It’s best to make it your friend. View aging not with fear and trepidation but as graduating to the class of Elders on the Earth.  If you make it to this stage in life where age shows in your reflection, you are one of the fortunate.  Aging is a gift not granted to all equally in this frame. If you can, strive to hold gratitude instead of fear.  When your body dies, your consciousness lives on but you transform from the existence you have become accustomed to here.


I love my life today so much.  I don’t have deep, burning, or all-consuming desires to know this or that about life.  I’ve learned in my life that taking time to better understand my inner landscape, learning self-love, full acceptance of self and a lifetime’s worth of action was necessary for happiness.  The more I engaged in self-understanding, the more that feeling of connection to Source returned and the more that sense of longing quieted.  I still have desires and goals and I will succeed in them as I always do.  It’s just that my reason or mission has changed.  I think I’m at a place in my life now where the idea of contributing to life has more meaning than anything.  Lending a voice, an ear or compassionate presence – that totally kills that old greatly diminished now feeling of longing for home.  When I stopped looking for something to fill that longing, I found it.  I am home (as I have always been), I’m comfortable in my skin, I’m happy, satisfied with a life well lived and hopeful for tomorrow despite the chaos of information constantly bombarding me. 


I’d have to say that I do appreciate the spiritual journey I embarked upon and all of the magical and unexplainable things that I have experienced.  I’m really glad that this grounded comforting feeling eventually caught my attention and noticed that it was coming from within after all that searching in the outside world.  Our lives and our journeys here on Earth are intensely personal and uniquely experienced just for ourselves and our growth as souls.  You can’t read your life’s purpose in a book.  You are so unique and precious that no one else’s words, thoughts or ideas can describe you or your purpose. Living your life and doing what you do is what you came her to do.  If your life brings you sadness, that’s okay.  Consider it a message to you from you that you might potentially benefit another way of learning or living along your journey.  If your life brings you comfort, that also is a message that maybe you are on the right path for the moment.  In those moments that you find bliss, that’s a YES from the Universe. 


One of the many phrases I’ve come across in my life that inspired me the most – more than any practice, books, classes or whatever was: The Journey Is The Destination.  It inspires me still.  We are all born in this frame and our bodies die at the end.  If we continually wait for happiness only until this or that happens or we put off relaxing or wait continually to do things until all lights are green, we’re missing the point.  Our destination is ultimately to die after living a life well lived.  So, go and well-live your life.  Find something in the day to day that you like, love, or appreciate in some way. Enjoy your spiritual quest or existential explorations as is your desire but live and appreciate something in your experience that is truly good, light and bright. Respect the darkness for that does truly exist within us all.  Strive to find a place of balance and equanimity.  Know that tough times will come and go and still you will learn and achieve all that you were meant to in life. Relax your judgement of yourself, others, and this world.  Be the amazing you that you are.  That’s what my journey taught me most loudly and most clear.

© 2024 Jaie Hart (photo and words)

Friday, October 27, 2023

Aimless Meandering


It’s amazing how quickly the hours, minutes and days go by when your mind is occupied in a busy life.  I think I’m reminded more so now than ever of the importance of taking a pause, a moment, a breath in the present to just appreciate all that has been, all that is and all that is to come without assigning any emotion to that.


In reflecting this morning, I realize what a winding steep and perilous road I have sometimes travelled.  At other times, it felt like smooth sailing.  At this time and in this stage of my life, I have to say that I am happier than ever I have been.  I have meaningful work, a growing family, and I somehow managed to deal with grief.  I’ll be honest, I don’t care for that part of life.  It seems the things that wound us never really ever heal (sorry – spoilers).  But if we give ourselves the space and the grace to be fully present with grief without resisting it, something shifts in our disposition.  Some part of us begins to accept that grief as part of life and we learn that pain is okay to feel – it is nothing to fear – and we just tend to grow beyond those moments.


Acceptance has loomed large in my life with many lessons to affirm the need for it.  I might like to throw temper tantrums because of “what is” in various aspects of my life but I know ultimately how I face something or not is a choice and that choice may extol more energy than I have (if in resistance) or apply just the right amount (if I allow what is to be).  Ever since I heard the serenity prayer and took the time to really dive deep into what seems on the surface a simple string of phrases, I have learned the wisdom of it.  At some point we have to decide if our resistance to what is makes sense to hold onto.


I’m a deeply sensitive soul and I have faced some pretty big emotional upsets in my life but I somehow learned to stand and remain flexible regardless.  If we can learn to bend sometimes like a tree in a storm, flow instead of resisting, we’ll weather most storms.  Sometimes the storms are just overwhelming in life – did you know it’s okay to crumple into a heap and cry it out?  (I’m telling you – give yourselves permission to feel whatever you feel when you feel it – just don’t take action when in feeling mode. When in feeling mode, just feel – be with whatever it is – then take action in a healthy and appropriate manner that supports you and others).


I think for a while in my life I got hung up in trying to ascribe a reason for this or that lesson.  While seemingly a pain-minimizing endeavor, sometimes we just don’t get any closure on things.  You have to learn to deal with what you have, what you don’t know – you don’t know, and assumption is never a good idea.  It isn’t an either or – assume or get the definitive answer exercise – in order to be okay.  The one thing in life that is fact is that life is ever changing. The only thing that is the constant is change.  When I run into rougher times I remember – “This too shall pass.”  When I am enjoying happier times I remember – “This too shall pass” and I appreciate with much gratitude any moment of peace or happiness.


I understand much about people and sometimes that understanding that everyone is battling their own trauma’s, wars, environmental psychology etc. is all I need.  I never let that excuse behavior I find untoward or indecent, but it does help me to realize much of what other people engage in along hurtful or unthinking lines is not personal for me.  That thought doesn’t minimize the pain of the things that some people do but understanding that from one human to another – life is hard – I know all that I need to know, and I can set boundaries for myself in terms of what I can and cannot tolerate.  In life, the one thing you must learn to do is stand up for yourself and your needs and that doesn’t have to be a battle of wills with another human to get them to understand your needs.  In some cases, you can scream that crystal clear and the person you’re screaming at cannot take that onboard at all.  That’s okay – some people are not for you, and you are not for some people.  You don’t have to hate or hold grudges, just refocus on you and what you need to do for you.


Life is hard but when you look back, 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years in a life, you see so many different versions of yourself while you were enmeshed in one life lesson or another.  The same is true of your family and friends – different versions of them throughout the years.  It doesn’t matter so much today who you were yesterday – what matters is who you are now – in this moment.  Every moment is an opportunity to find realization, gratitude, acceptance, make plans and set goals and find something in our moments to appreciate.  I find I can appreciate even the bad times even if only to think they won’t last forever.  I find I can appreciate people – even the hurtful and mindless seeming ones. I do know they’re doing the best they can.  I also know I don’t have to remain in proximity to those who are hurtful and hateful.  I don’t have to add to their negative energy.  I can lick my wounds and take a detour down any number of different life paths open to me when I and only when I remain open to finding them.


Sorry for the aimless and meandering thought journey this morning.  I don’t often have the time to write these days.  I appreciate more living life rather than trying to mentally figure it out, but old habits die hard.  I still love my morning reflections over coffee when the house is quiet, and the cat is curled up right next to me.  I’ve got projects to get started and I’m burning daylight. Wherever it is you find yourself on this great journey of your life, I hope you can take a moment to congratulate yourself for making it to this moment.  It’s been no easy task and yet you have somehow managed to master it.  Yay You! Be good to yourself today – acknowledge your efforts regardless of whether anyone else will.  Do one thing at least today just for yourself.  You deserve that kind of love and care from you to you.


Blessings for a great day on the journey that is your life.  Remember – the Journey IS the Destination!


©October 2023, Janice L. Harter (photo and words)

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Chasing Dreams and Lessons Learned

So many miles have come between me and the land of my birth.  If I think about it too long, my heart starts to ache for the sound of the ocean, a strong and cool salty sea breeze, and the sound of gulls.  How many days did I sit at the shore just to feel the power of the waves, feel the enormity of the depth and the breadth of the ocean? Through sunny summer warmth, and cool, cold and stormy days, I’d find my way to the coast and gaze for hours in solitude.  I miss those days sometimes.  Fortunately, those memories will always live in my heart and bring me comfort still when most I surely need it.


As many in life have come to know, the land of your birth won’t always support your dreams and if those dreams are strong enough, you’ll pack up all that you own, kiss your loved ones goodbye and begin a journey to find whatever it is that calls to your heart and soul the most. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to go to far to begin to fulfill my biggest dream.  It was a simple dream to own a home on my own - large enough for me and my children, a yard big and green filled with flowers and trees, and some space to breathe with rare beauty.  I did find it and I’m so grateful.  But these words echo in my mind, “now what?”  

In my mind I have visited the echoes of yesterday and the enormity of lessons learned, love lost and found, broken, and bruised pieces of my heart and psyche along with the strength of the inner light that can and will carry you through the darkest of places if you just find a small shred of hope to hold.  I have not lived an easy life by any stretch, but I have learned above all else to trust my inner most urges and intuitions.  In all the times that I learned to listen and heed my inner guidance, I have found resolution to outer and inner conflict, new paths where all once seemed obscure and a beautiful light to reveal what lay hidden in the darkness (that of my own thinking and that brought to me by the lessons of others).


 When I look at all that I have accomplished, I feel really good.  Humble beginnings was the start to my story.  Where I am now I am not married to because I have learned in life that all is fleeting, transient and impermanent at every level.  I have come to know that it is not what I have and what I have done that matters most.  The greatest of my life’s lessons has been learning to take a measure of comfort in what is as it is in the absence of judgement or fear.  I have grown and gone far beyond anything I ever expected.  It only took me learning to let go of what this world, society and my family expected of me.  The conventional has never suited me and I will no longer entertain it.  I am content now, more whole and happy even - most days.


Life lessons still come and the pain can sometimes feel soul crushing.  But the key to leaving that prison is accepting what is, sitting with the pain without reacting, and allowing yourself to cry, shout, scream or be.  In time, we expand beyond the painful spaces within us.  We learn to bring in more light to shine more clearly into the darkness and we find our way back to the sun as long as we spend no time in resistance.  That is so hard and can take years and years.  It’s not an easy lesson facing grief, sadness and pain.  These things are part of the human condition and when we encounter them we must always remember – this is not it.  It is not all we will ever feel again.  We will expand, we will grow and as we do we create more space within us to take in other things – joy, love, curiosity, hope and so much more.  I think the pain never goes away but we take in more and with balance, we learn to live with the good and the bad seeming within us.  It’s amazing how that works, and it has worked for me time and time again.


 I stand here today so grateful for all of the mountains I have climbed, the darkness I have faced, the disappointment, the anger, the bliss and love – all of it.  My time is not yet done.  I just plan to live a little wiser, with more patience and acceptance.  Maybe find a little more courage, curiosity, and wisdom to face the rest of my journey wherever it is it may lead me.  I think sometimes the journey is within and without simultaneously.  How can it not be?  It’s like magic at times and it can make me laugh or cry depending on how I look at it.


If you take anything away from this piece, I hope you take with it hope, trust in your journey and yourselves to live your lives as perfectly and as meaningfully as you were meant to.  Count your blessings and lessons both (you’ll find they are one and the same in the end).



© Copyright 2023 Janice Harter (photo and words)

Monday, May 29, 2023

Not an Every Day Journey



I woke up early to watch the sky change colors as the sun climbed up into the sky.  The display is one I never ever tire of.  Its magical how the sky goes from inky black with millions of pin point stars, to dark blue, faded blue, to smoky pink, peach and then golden.  Every new day always strikes me as a rebirth.  It isn’t actually that but the world turning on its axis as it orbits the sun. But I like my magical thoughts more than my scientific ones this morning. 


I made some coffee, fed the cat and retrieved and then filled the bird feeders.  I sipped coffee watching my little winged friends flitting about excited for an easy meal.  The brightly colored Finches and Sparrows are a favorite.  After they finish a nibble, the bigger birds swoop in to pick up off the ground what the little birds pushed out of the feeders.  The Grackles and Doves get a bite too.  I just love to see them for some reason.  I have small windchimes around the posts that hold the feeders so I can hear when the birds fly in for breakfast.  Well that and I love the little windchimes.


It's cool out now so I threw the front and back doors open.  I can hear the birds singing happily along with the occasional whir of air conditioning units kicking on.  Out here in the desert, we are heavily dependent on the air conditioning to keep us not only comfortable but safe from the extreme heat of the late Spring and Summer days.  Sometimes I long for greener scenery but there is something about this place that called to me so long ago.  It came to me one afternoon nearly 20 years ago.  I lived in Southern California and was paying ridiculous amounts of rent, daycare on three kids on one income.  The idea of moving to Arizona came to me.  I could at least solve the exorbitant housing expense.  I just wasn’t quite ready to leave.  But then, over the years the call changed.  Added to it was a desire to not just move to a new place but to be a home owner.  As a single parent of 3, there was just no way I could come up with a down payment.  There was also no way my boss at that time was going to let me telecommute.  A few years later, I had 4 children and no idea how to manifest the dream.  But it came back due to circumstances reinforcing the original thought – giving me pause to remember and consider. I wondered, why couldn’t I just manifest the resources?  That changed to – why don’t I just manifest the resources. And that is exactly what I did.


I found my desired location (the city felt like home as soon as I accidentally found it) and started looking for houses in my price range.  I figured out what I needed for a down payment.  I definitely didn’t have that but I didn’t let that discourage me.  I imagined what it would feel like to sit in my back yard sipping coffee.   I imagined my bank account growing so that I would have enough.  I stayed open, positive, and every day looked at homes and started getting really excited about the idea.  I found myself a mortgage broker and an agent.  I found a way to manage a down payment, pulled together the funds for a mover and before I knew it an offer had been made and accepted on a home that really sparked my inner being.  We went to Arizona to see the house and fell in love.  45 days later, we were moving in.


I was paying twice my now mortgage plus just for rent in California.  But, my new boss allowed me to telecommute and I was able to bring my California salary with me to Arizona.  My dreaming, positive thinking, staying open to ideas that would better align me to my goal paid off.  Here I sit 4 years later on my back patio sipping coffee watching the birds munching happily the bird seed I just filled the bird feeders with.  I did it on my own.  I did what I once thought impossible.  I manifested a dream I scarcely let out into the light of day.  I’m still amazed today at how everything came together.


The trick was giving voice to the dream, as specific as I could while staying completely open to the how and trusting the how would come together.  I did my part.  I researched, I gave good positive thoughts to it daily, I worked to do my part and not one hitch was encountered.  It could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t.  Uprooting your life from being born and raised in one state to another is no easy thing.  But it was the perfect thing for us.  I always knew that Arizona held magic for me. Yeah, there’s that word again.  Let me have my magic!  My first grandchild was born a year ago and as I ease myself into that next part of life I have managed with the Universe’s help, to create for myself a fabulous framework for that next stage whatever it will hold for me.  I couldn’t be happier.


More than thirty years ago while driving through the desert, a thought came to me – “Lost and Found in the Desert.”  I didn’t think much of it at the time but as I sit here now, I know exactly what that means for me.  I was lost in so many ways before but when I came here, to the desert in the land of the sun, I found myself.  I found what I didn’t even know had been missing.  The journey of the last 30 years, every step, every misstep, all the good times, all the hard times – they all led up to this moment.   In this moment I feel tried and tested.  I feel strong and so happy.  Times won’t always feel happy because there have been some hard, hard things to face on this journey.  While I know now that dreams can come true, the every day journey is going with the flow, knowing that emotions and circumstance are fleeting, and that every life journey is extraordinary.  It’s no everyday ordinary journey that brought me here.  It was a dream that I gave voice too, concentrated on and helped manifest into reality.  I’m grateful for every part of my journey up until now. The good times – the bad times – the happy times and dire sad times…all of those times instilled in me the character I needed to build, let shine, let grow and to keep on dreaming.  Yeah, this had not been your every day journey.  It has been a magical one.


© 2023 J.L. Harter (photos and words)

Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Heart Break of Letting Go and Healing

At so many different points in my life I have faced the agonizing decision of letting go.  I have let go of jobs, places I loved, People I loved and even family pets that I loved so much.  None of these can be faced, I think, without encountering some level of intense grief in the act of letting go.  I don’t deal with these situations very well.  When I realize these are manifesting in my life for whatever reason, my body physically starts to fight back hard with that deep and heavy feeling in the chest, that sinking feeling of horrendous anxiety, or those doubtful feelings of failure, of losing something important or realizing you just can’t hold on anymore either for self-preservation or it’s just time for others to go.  So, letting go becomes the only option for many reasons.


In my time on Earth, I have had some pretty epic letting go scenarios.  The first and the hardest were letting my parents go. One through death, the other through substance and resulting extreme toxicity that I could no longer bear.  The latest, a beloved pet I raised from a puppy.  For some reason this feels like the worst letting go of all of them.  I’m not sure why really but I suspect that the grief of any letting go is cumulative.  You don’t ever heal from letting go and each time a new scenario presents itself and you must decide again that you must let go even when you don’t want to, all the pain from all of the past letting go’s come straight back out to the light of day from the depths of your soul.


They say grief and pain heal in time.  Sitting here today, I know that isn’t true.  You can come to terms with letting go, the emotional whirlwind of grief but when you love so deeply and must let go, there is no real recovery.  You must learn to expand who you are, stretch your very capacity for understanding, love and compassion and learn to live despite the pain.  It’s the hardest thing to do.  But what I can offer is that there is something I discovered along the way when dealing with the heart break of having to let go.  I mean, first and foremost, counseling is helpful in managing the processing of emotion. Given.  Important.  Please do it if you face extreme pain in letting go whether mandatory of voluntary. 


Next, what begins must end.  Nothing stays the same forever. On this planet, in this dimension and framework, things begin and end.  Or, well, things shift focus.  What is of primary emotional focus, will not be so in 365 days more than likely, or 6 months, or 1 month or whatever.  The same is true of emotional pain. The time leading up to the imminent decision of letting go is the worst, the moment of feels worse yet and then days that immediately follow are pretty bad.  When it comes to letting go of people and pets, there is an energy separation that feels very physical.  That intense energy separation period seems to be its worst for the first 3 days following the letting go.  The rest of the next week, moments of feeling normal wash in like waves from time to time in increasing intensity.  The next week after that is the same.  Emotional moments and more normal feeling moments come. The pain starts to lose intensity at times and you start to have more blocks of time where you feel normal again.  As you continue to engage in moving forward, the third week really starts to cement the new habits.


Now, you can step back and freeze yourself in these early stages if your push yourself into denial or bargaining, which the mind may want to do. But if you could just acknowledge these arising when they do whithout curling up into the fetal position when you encounter them, you can keep forward progress. 


The year of firsts is really a thing.  Key dates that first year will be difficult, as your mind wanders through memories or temporarily forgets that you had to let go, these moments can be painful.  Acknowledge the pain and know, the level of pain is equal to the love. That thought really helps you to give yourself some compassion.  Of course, it hurts, you loved.  They go hand in hand.


Now, when the letting go is voluntary, extra care is definitely needed.  Your mind could potentially dream up all sorts of scenarios where – you wouldn’t have to say good by if only this or that had happened.  But backwards thinking, wishing or fantasizing cannot change today.  You can also worry or doubt yourself into oblivion about whether or not you did the right thing but here is where a big dose of self-assurance and trust comes in.  If you gauged a situation as any form of danger whether that be emotional, physical or financial, to the point you felt letting go was required, trust yourself.  At the end of the day, the person you owe is yourself. Setting health boundaries means that sometimes you will need to let go of all that is not in alignment with what you need. There will be no shortage of challenge, judgement or harassment for boundaries and letting go when you felt you needed to.  If you are concerned, get counseling to vet your thoughts and decisions before you invoke them.  Then trust yourself to do the right thing by yourself.  Your happiness and quality of life matter.  That happiness and quality of life is something within your power to control.  You cannot control other people.  You may be able to influence them or their behavior, but you cannot change the reality of the exchange.  If it is toxic or dangerous for you in any way, letting go may help you preserve you.  Even though pain in such an instance is seemingly self-inflicted, it’s really no different than an involuntary letting go.  You must work through the steps and if you can steer clear of second guessing yourself or entertaining the harassment of those who don’t agree with your decision, you will move on and eventually learn to live your life again despite the pain.


Pain isn’t the enemy. When I feel it, I’ll be honest…a part of me panics.  I may actually have panic attacks of the kind where I lose consciousness as my system is overwhelmed with anxiety and emotion.  It is really uncomfortable.  I face the same reaction whether the letting go is voluntary or involuntary.  Although it is definitely made worse by outside harassment after I have decided that the best thing for me is to let go.  I know that if the decision to let go comes to my mind, I have already done all I can do, managed all that I can, considered all other options for me and must do what I feel is right. That is my right.  Bottom line. Dealing with the pain, as I said is similar.  Getting over heart break and the panicky feelings of the first days is hard.  You cannot heal them completely, but I think “getting over” is a better way to put it.  You learn to accept in time as you continue with your life, and you expand enough to do that. The pain may always be there, and you may even be reminded and feel that twinge of pain from time to time but sometimes letting go is the only thing that you can do.  No matter what anyone else says, the way you deal with parting is individual and unique.  My experience here may not be true for you.  I’ve just observed the energetic aspect – that physical feeling of separation that is the hardest at first. That energy deficit does calm down and right itself within about 3 weeks.  Emotional pain may take longer to work through, and each path is different there.


The most important thing that you can do for yourself when you are facing one of the many “letting go” periods of your life is to be really good to yourself.  Honor the emotions you feel, acknowledge them, give yourself time to feel them.  Emotional times aren’t necessarily times for action though.  Keep in mind that when you are grieving, you are impaired when it comes to things like decisions.  Rely on your circle to help you through any decisions that must be made during grieving.  Any important decisions that can be put off while you are grieving, put them off for a time.  Turn your focus inward kindly and gently.  The things that have helped me most during times of grief were just the simple acts of daily living.  Getting up in the morning when I don’t feel like it, showering, getting dressed, getting myself presentable as normal or eating, working and taking care of my home.  Take it easy on yourself but do keep up with as many of your responsibilities as you can.  Get outside if you can.  Breathe in nature with your lungs, with your eyes, with your ears and with your heart.  These things all help.


Letting go is part of life.  As I said, everything changes – nothing ever stays the same. We must learn to roll with the punches, flow with the changes and some days this will take epic amounts of energy and sheer force of will.  That’s okay.  Just keep going.  Even when it seems like life his horrible and dark, it won’t aways seem that way.


© 2023 J.L. Harter (photos/words)

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Change in Season - Facing Change


No matter what we do or say, there are few things we can count on in our lives...the world will turn, the sun will rise and there will be stars up in the sky whether obscured by sunlight or accented by darkness. Gravity is fairly constant and something we must learn to contend with day in and day out.  For now, the coffee is warm – aromatic and I’m sipping it peacefully as the sun climbs above the horizon (or, more accurately put, the Earth is noticeably turning at one of those times of day that it is truly noticeable).


The long scorching hot Summer came and went and if I’m honest, I’d say uneventfully.  That’s not a problem in my book.  Uneventful means I’ve had moments of clarity, of peace and of quiet.  The birds are singing just now, and it is reasonably cool out in my little corner of the world.  The Chinese Elm in my back yard is speckled now with yellow leaves that soon will fall.  At this time of year, I am always reminded that the trees just let their leaves fall.  It is part of their existence – their nature.  Funny it is that we humans hold on to things…memories, stuff, and thoughts, thoughts and more thoughts.  When we can muster a moment of clarity and let things drop away and become even more clear, more grounded and even more grateful, we can flow more easily through the stream of the elements and Seasons that make up our experience of life.


Fall winds here always seems to bring change.  Those Fall winds are blowing now and soon into the season too.  I remain curious about the changes going on around me.  Some changes are uncomfortable because of the unknown aspects of potential consequences but some changes are good bringing relief and an opportunity to refresh, begin again, usher in new thought and energy.  While uncomfortable for a time, I’d like to think that change is ultimately good – whether wanted or unwanted. Pivotal moments where lives and paths intersect always bring the possibility of change and growth. Well, the growth-part is a choice we'd be wise to make.  I am okay with change even if it feels uncomfortable for a time. If I dig in my heels and resist, the only soul I’d be hurting is myself and I have vowed time and time again, never to intentionally cause self-harm! We can't really fight change in our lives - time marches on - a constant.


The seasons of my life have brought me much that I am so grateful for.  I stand much more confidently in my own skin these days and so the changes blowing all around me aren’t something that I get overly concerned about.  If I walk back through my memories, I can clearly see that change has been the one very dominant constant in my life along with breathing – up to this point.  It is part of my awareness and existence.  I am constantly reminded to appreciate all that I have experienced and to cherish the good and bad alike.  It is all part of my experience of life on planet Earth.  Although I am very aware of the change thoughts running through my mind this morning, I intend to just breathe, remain curious and hopeful – grateful – committed.


Coffee consumed and first morning chores complete (feed the doggo and the kitty cat), I now must return to the routine of my day.  I’ll do so contemplative today.  I feel it already.  I have much to wonder about.  I have much gratitude yet to fully appreciate and I’ll keep that in mind throughout my day today.  At this moment in time, all is well, no major concerns or worries and I intend to appreciate a day off of my work-a-day world.  I have learned that I am well prepared and grounded enough and with trust in my ability enough to face whatever consequences of change that I encounter.  I have proven myself resourceful, thoughtful and capable of pivoting quickly if need be.  I think that is the beauty of experience and growing older in this frame.  When you look back and recount all of the things and situations you have faced and mastered, you begin to develop very strong trust in yourself to face your life with an ever diminishing sense of fear and angst and an ever growing sense of strength, wisdom and confidence.  I love that.  I hope what ever change blows your way brings you the courage to stand and face it standing tall in your skin with curiosity and confidence.  You’ve got this.  Have a lovely Fall!  Enjoy every turn of color, gently falling leaf and hopefully, gently changing temperatures that don’t shock your system! 


© J.L. Harter, September 2022 (photo and words)