She Sings what my Heart is Saying

Early one morning, while still in bed, I received a text message with a link to an album by an artist I wasn’t familiar with. I opened the link and clicked ‘play’. Thirteen songs later it came to an end and I pressed ‘play’ again. After the second time through I messaged the person to let them know how grateful I was… and then… I pressed ‘play’ a third time!

I have never been impacted by an album like that. I love music and may find one or two songs on an album or by an artist that connect at this level but never have I immediately downloaded 10 of 13 songs and had four of them become my go-to favorites!

The album is Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb.
Her music washes over me, it refreshes, resonates and slowly loosens and frees what ever is weighing me down. I feel swept away and freshly connected with myself, others and all that is around me. The longer I listen, the deeper the loosening seems to go.

She has a beautiful voice and a deep tone that at times whispers… but what really connects is the honesty of her words as she reveals her unfixed mess and invites us into her story.

Ellie gracefully holds the tension and mystery of life with her words and music. She acknowledges her struggle with shame, self-hatred and not feeling enough right along side the realization she is loved, covered and wonderfully made.

So, is her message one of being broken or whole? Does it describe anxiety or peace, fear or love, triumph or desperation? The answer is Yes, Yes and again, YES! After three weeks I continue to find myself listening to these songs multiple times a day.

Read this tiny selection of honest, rich, resonating words from “Find You Here”,

Here in the middle of the lonely night
Here in the middle of the losing fight
Here in the middle of the deep regret
Here when the healing hasn’t happened yet
Here in the middle of the desert place
Here in the middle when I cannot see your face
Here in the middle with Your outstretched arms
You can see my pain and it breaks Your heart

I didn’t know I’d find you hear
In the middle of my deepest fear, but
You are drawing near
You are overwhelming me with peace

That’s what Ellie Holcomb and this beautiful album deliver for me, again and again… OVERWHELMING PEACE!

To listen to a few of my favorites from this album just click on the following link, Ellie Holcomb or search for her on Google or You Tube.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I am!
Steve

Do You Hear the Deep Harmony?

Just beneath the surface of my mind, below my thoughts and beyond my understanding I seem to be hearing something beautiful. It’s beyond the noise of the familiar and hidden behind the illusion of my mind.

I’m drawn to it but I could miss it if I’m not intentionally still. The sound is so quiet it’s easily drowned out by the never ending noise vying for my attention.

Yet its presence is undeniable. It’s like a beautiful song that connects and resonates within. It touches parts of me I didn’t know existed and stirs emotion I was unaware of.

The deep harmony is intoxicating and the connective vibration allows my distractions to fade away. It’s like finding the frequency all energy and matter communicate through.

As I shared last time, the more often we connect with and center ourselves, the more often we sink beneath the chaotic noise and distraction of our thoughts. Being in sync or in tune helps us participate in the harmony, vibration and flow of the universe.

There is a universal symphony playing within you right now… do you hear it? Do you feel its ebb and flow? This sound, which is present in us all, lifts and connects and frees us to experience who we already are. It’s there… we can find it… it’s just beneath our thoughts.

It’s like turning an old radio dial until you find the frequency your favorite music is broadcast on. Once you find it, you mark its location so you can return again and again to experience the music that touches your heart.

We slow down and take time to tune musical instruments and tune in radio stations. We take time to save websites and download apps in order to connect and reconnect over and over again. Shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves?

I’m becoming more aware that taking time to center myself and see if I’m in tune or out of sync has a positive effect on the rest of my day.

It doesn’t mean everything will be perfect or I’ll stay in tune… but it certainly helps if I start off in tune before strumming my life and story for all to hear.

We share our lives everyday and whether we know it or not, our story produces a sound much like a musical instrument. The question is… is the music and story we’re sharing in tune… or not?

Fine Tuning

Many mornings I find myself longing for a few focus-less moments. A time to detach from my mind, what I would call object-less meditation. I slow down and gently sink into the stillness of being present right here… in the now.

At times I become aware of what sounds like a universal harmony hidden just beneath the surface of my mind, but I seem to be out of sync.

Some thought pulls me to the left, another to the right and before I know it my brain feels like a pin ball machine. I keep surrendering, getting distracted, letting go of thoughts and searching for that illusive sound.

Finally I reach a sweet spot and everything fades into the moment. I am present. Disturbances are swallowed up, thoughts are dissolved and I am one with ‘what is’.

In these moments I feel whole. It’s pure presence, pure rest and there seems to be a symphony of vibration and harmony. I am peacefully in tune with all.

In the next moment a thought sneaks in, stretches me and the sweet spot disappears. I try to find it but it alludes me like a guitar slipping out of tune.

I enjoy playing the guitar. I’m not very good but there were times when I played an hour or more a day. Lately, it’s more like once a month.

I notice the more I play, the more often I tune. When I’m playing regularly I can pick it up, play something and it sounds pretty good cause it’s in tune, or at least close.

If I haven’t played in a month and pick it up… ouch! It doesn’t sound anything like what I’m trying to play and it’s useless until I tune it.

A guitar just can’t stay in tune. When its played, the strings are pressed, pulled, stretched and strummed countless times. When it sits unused, the temperature and humidity  compress and expand the strings, the neck and the wood.

The more often you tune it the closer it is to the way it was created to sound. Being a little out of tune doesn’t destroy the sound but if you go weeks before tuning then what is heard is not music to the ears.

Likewise, if I don’t routinely center myself and settle into that sweet spot then I will be out of sync. I will be out of tune and what you hear from me won’t be in harmony with ‘what is’.

Being in tune, out of tune, in tune and out of tune is part of the life and journey of a guitar. Music happens and is created, changed and transformed all the time… but if you want to enjoy it… you want it in tune!

Being centered, not centered, centered and not centered is part of the life and journey of all humans. Life happens and is created, changed and transformed all the time… but if you want to enjoy it… you want to be centered and in sync!

Staying centered is similar to breathing; we inhale, we exhale, inhale, exhale and it seems to work best if we don’t hold our breath. No one wants to listen to a guitar that’s out of tune or break a string in the middle of a song… just like we don’t want to be out of sync or pass out in the midst of life.

Life is happening right now… are you in sync? When was the last time you enjoyed a good tuning?

Tidal Waves of Gratitude

A shaking or breaking within
a tremor, a wall falls
a line moves, a lens shatters
it is so small, does it really matter?

Yes, the smallest movement
produces a wave of energy
a ripple across the fabric of life.

A small movement hidden beneath the ocean floor
creates a wave of energy and water
sweeping across islands and coasts
displacing all.

What if… your trial, challenge or suffering
results in the shattering of a lens
releasing a wave of energy and gratitude from within
creating ripples that affect the world?

What if… each times we embrace ‘what is’
instead of resisting ‘what is’
a fresh wave of energy and gratitude is released?

What if… In the presence of gratitude,
lines are softened and illusion fades
as connections become easier to see?

What if… In the presence of gratitude,
boundaries are unclear and ‘us and them’ a blur
as fear quietly dissolves?

What if… In the presence of gratitude,
the inherent value in all shines thru
and people and things are enjoyed ‘as is’?

What if… In the presence of gratitude,
kindness pours forth from eyes & lips, hearts & smiles
and small unseen acts of generosity appear in its wake?

What if…
We embrace ‘what is’ and let
Tidal Waves of Gratitude flow!

 

There is only We

‘I’ tends to feel alone… ‘We’ doesn’t.

My biggest struggle seems to be with my own fear. Part of me says just embrace the fear and see! See what? See that fear is just a shadow.

Shadows are a part of every landscape, to feel afraid of them is to miss out on their beauty. Without shadows we lose the diverse beauty of all things. Without shadows we can’t behold the limitless contrasts and hues that come together in a sunset, in the eyes of a child or in an ocean wave.

Speaking of waves; light, music, and water move in waves. Actually, all matter moves in waves. We feel and experience waves of energy like the wind, the ocean and love. Love is relational energy… an energy that relates and moves all things.

Art, poetry, love and music are waves of energy that exist beyond the mind and beyond explanation. Energy and freedom are always present beyond the mind.

When I stop trying to see… I see. When I stop trying to focus… all things come into view. As I relax and am present… I’m aware I’m one with all that is.

I no longer have to connect the dots… as I see… and feel… every dot is connected, every dot is engaged, every dot is… oh my… there are no dots… just waves of energy, waves of love and waves of relationship.

There is no ‘I’, there is only ‘We’.

We are swept up in a universal dance, We are singing a universal harmony and We are immersed in a universal love. Relational energy is inherent in all things and we are living, breathing and moving as one.

Sometimes words flow and I write them down… though I can’t necessarily explain them.

The struggle for me is to leave them there on the page, unexplained. This is one of those times!

My mind wants to dissect them, to identify and label each component into separate ‘dots’ that I can explain, manipulate and hopefully control.

It’s rather amusing if I slow down and become aware of my minds intention.

Given full reign… I think my mind would bring an end to art, music, poetry, shadows, contrast, diversity, paradox and mystery… in favor of definitive information and understanding. I wonder if that’s what we tried to do with public education?

Shadows belong, art belongs, diversity belongs, music belongs, the unexplained belongs, poetry belongs, love belongs… We all belong!

Too Busy

What does ‘too busy’ really mean? Is it that my mind is racing in some imaginary competition and is unable to slow down, be present and enjoy this moment? Sometimes I feel like I’m training for the Olympics or a prize fight and yet no such events are on my horizon.

But I definitely have a coach or trainer or something cause I can here his voice in my head, “Come on, push, push, push, let’s pick up the pace. We have another 42 miles of road work before we can get to the core strengthening that’s necessary to tackle the fast twitch neuro conditioning and it must be done by noon so we can start the next twenty tasks and complete them by 5:30! Let’s go, faster, make it count, at this rate you’ll never finish today’s list.”

This coach is one hard task master and these commands are barked most mornings before I’m even out of bed. Do you have a coach/voice in your head similar to this? In her blog, Daring Boldly, my friend Louise Gallagher lovingly refers to hers as ‘critter’ and if I’m not aware my critter/ego will have my mind engaged and spinning wildly out of control on a hamster wheel going nowhere… by 6 am!

No wonder I feel ‘too busy’! It has nothing to do with my actual schedule and everything to do with thinking, worrying, running and pushing this train of thoughts faster and faster. But where is this train going? Lately I’ve become aware it’s going anywhere but HERE!

My critter coach doesn’t seem to care if we focus on past failures, mishaps or future ‘what ifs’ just as long as we don’t slow down and be present right HERE in the NOW… cause if we do that, he’s out of a job!

He knows that if we happen to slow down… we may find ‘ourselves’ and suddenly realize there’s no race, no competition and no where we need to get to. If we slow down we might just see that this frantic rat race is all an illusion.

Such a revelation could throw my critter coach into an identity crisis. What if he/we suddenly realized we’re already okay and there’s nothing we need to pursue or achieve in order to prove ourselves. What if everything we really need is already present within us? That type of information could blow critter coach’s mind!

Imagine finding that peace, satisfaction, rest, joy and contentment were NEVER out there but instead they were always HERE, right HERE within us! How would that change your daily grind?

When I’m too busy, I don’t slow down.
When I’m too busy, I miss opportunities to be present.
When I’m too busy, I miss out on enjoying the moment, enjoying smiles and enjoying me.
When I’m too busy, I will also most likely miss out on you. I won’t be present with you. I probably won’t even notice you.

Why would that happen… because I think I don’t have enough time. Time is an interesting concept. We talk about it like it’s something we gather, collect, lose or own yet the only time we really have is NOW, this brief fleeting moment.

If I think I’m too busy… then I will likely lose the only time I have… by NOT being present in the moment. What a tragedy it is to let our minds be too busy.

When I’m too busy, I miss out on everything available in the moment. Keeping that train of thoughts moving or that hamster wheel spinning requires energy. Feeding that monster, that ego machine eventually drains me.

This morning I’m too tired to keep feeding the machine. I’m too tired to push the train, to spin the wheel or even to listen to my coach. I’m just going to sit here on the deck and breathe… and relax… and oh, what’s that, yes… I hear that thought but I’m going to let it go. OK, I hear that thought too and I see that image but I’m not interested.

Suddenly a flood of thoughts race across the screen of my mind like clouds across the sky. My coach knows me so well and tries everything he can to get me to reengage. But this morning… I continue to breathe. The air is crisp and cool, the frost is glistening on the grass and as the sun peeks through… I begin to feel its warmth on my face.

In this moment of object-less meditation and focus-less presence… stress and anxiety seem to lift and my thoughts simply fade away… Ah, there I am! I guess I was always HERE. I just needed to slow down in order to find me!

Now I can enjoy the moment. Now I can relax and be present. Wow, where did that energy come from? I didn’t think I had time to write today but something seems to be overflowing… guess I better write it down.

Oh hi, how are you? Where did you come from? Yes, I SEE YOU HERE… reading with me… do you see me? This is wonderful! Why didn’t I come HERE earlier? Do you want to join me HERE in this moment? You can you know! Do you feel too busy?

It’s amazing the energy and enjoyment that can be found when we become aware that our mind is too busy. It’s usually the first step to slowing down, being present and re-finding ourselves… which in turn allows us to find, connect, enjoy and BE present with others!

You’re Grateful for What?

Lately I’ve found myself experiencing gratitude in the most unusual places, a gratitude that seems to rise up from within, a gratitude that makes absolutely no sense. A gratitude that’s seemingly unattached to circumstances, it just shows up, rising and overflowing from the depths of who I am.

If that’s not weird enough I’ve found myself being grateful for things I’ve never felt grateful for before. Actually, if you’d told me you were grateful for these things I may have thought you were crazy, needed a doctor or possibly had suffered a recent head trauma.

I am now experiencing moments where I am truly grateful for my helplessness. First, let me say that this is NOT a rational decision, it is NOT a choice, it’s beyond comprehension and NO, I am not off my meds!

I also have not been hit in the head although I do feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. Many recent circumstances have caught me by surprise, like a punch that takes your breath away and forces every ounce of air out of your lungs. In that moment you’re stunned, you can’t even gasp, you try but nothing happens. Then finally, in the midst of your helplessness, relief comes and you breath again.

It was a Monday evening when the Genetics Clinic returned my call and I was able to update them on Josh’s condition. When I finished I asked if she had anything for me… I NEED SOMETHING!

I guess it came across really needy, which it was, since I was desperate and exhausted.

She hesitated and then said, “You and your wife have done everything there is to do. There’s nothing to look out for, be careful of or to avoid. There’s nothing to do except be with him and be grateful. I meet with parents all the time who would be thrilled if their child had the function Josh has right now. Josh is a miracle!

Be grateful for the function he has right now, shortly, he may not have it.
Be grateful for the moments of relief he has and…
Be grateful each time he smiles and for each moment he enjoys.

Can you feel the air leaving my lungs? I was on my deck when I took this call and I was unable to walk back in the house for hours. I was overwhelmed, sobered and I was grateful.

This was NOT a normal conversation for a medical professional, yet in my desperation, through my blunt needy request, she spoke from her heart and in that moment, I heard with my heart.

How easy it could have been for my mind and ego to be offended. How dare she tell me to be grateful in the midst of my son’s suffering.

With all my heart I am so grateful for that woman, for her honesty and for her courage. I think she knew she was stepping out on a limb and taking a risk.

Since that evening I’ve become more aware of Josh’s smiles. I know I miss most of them, but I also believe I see way more than I would have without the kindness she shared with me.

When Josh smiles, in that moment, I experience Joy. Why, because Josh is enjoying being present in that moment. His presence and joy, which many times are unattached to his circumstance, invite me to join him where he is. So really Josh leads me, Josh teaches me and Josh shows me how to truly live.

I am so full of gratitude and most of the time… I don’t know why!
I wrote this poem early the next morning while sitting on my back deck.

RIGHT NOW

Life only exists right now,
in this moment,
It is very short,
brief and fleeting.

So be grateful for today,
Be grateful for right NOW
Be grateful for and within this very moment

Enjoy your breath,
Enjoy the touch or feel of something or someone
Enjoy the smells and fragrances lingering in the air
Enjoy the breeze, enjoy the sun, Enjoy the clouds,
Enjoy the shadows, they play a significant part in our landscape
yet we rarely notice them.

Enjoy the sound of children, The chirping of the birds
Enjoy the hum of an engine, your computer,
or even the rhythmic beat of your own heart.

Listen to the silence
Listen for the silence
Listen in the silence
Enjoy the silence

All are gifts to see, hear and feel.
All are gifts to enjoy
All are gifts experienced in the moment
Be grateful in everything

 

I am also grateful for a new found friend… a blogger whom I’m sure you’ll hear me mention many times in future blogs. As I read her posts yesterday, at times, I felt I was reading my own journal. We have apparently crossed paths often on our back decks though we reside in different countries!