keeping on keeping on…

It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything but post quotes du jour here, and I haven’t done even that with any regularity. Of course, if you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that I’ve been dealing with a cancer diagnosis since last June, so my priorities and energies have shifted dramatically to say the least. I don’t want to go into it all here, but if you’d like, you can go to my Caring Bridge site and get the details on the ups and downs I’ve been through, especially in the last six months.

With illness—and the definite possibility of my life ending from it—being front and center for me, I nonetheless continue to search for meaning in my life as it stands now and in my life that has gone before. What have I contributed? What do I/can I contribute now? Continue reading

following the path you can’t see

IMG_7082Umstead State Park, Raleigh, NC  – Photo by Viki Atkinson

There’s a quote that’s been around for years, something along the lines of “growing old ain’t for sissies.” I’d like to propose that living your life by following (or trying to follow) spiritual guidance ain’t for sissies, either.

That stepping out in faith thing? A lot of the time it’s like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which he comes upon an impossibly wide bottomless abyss that he has to cross to continue his quest—only there’s no bridge or Tarzan swing or anything that might help him do that. His only option is to take a step out over the abyss and hope like hell something will happen to help him across. When he finally does step out (spoiler alert!), his foot lands on something solid—invisible, but solid. So he takes another step, and he makes it all the way across on an invisible bridge that never would have shown itself if he hadn’t taken that first trusting step.

For five or six years now, I’ve been feeling as though I’m being led to and prepared for some…purpose…and yet the specifics of that purpose remain elusive. Continue reading

note to self (6)

What you are “supposed” to do is known only by your heart/soul. When you are seeking your purpose, your path, you must look within. Do not look to some outside source. That would be like looking to someone else and asking them if you are hungry or thirsty or in need of rest. You are here to fulfill the unique expression of your soul, to contribute to the fabric of the universe by playing your unique role in it.

Each cell in the human body has a role to play. When it deviates from that role, due to cancer or some other illness, the body suffers. So too does the world suffer if you do not fulfill your unique place in it. You are the only one who can ultimately know what that role is. You are the only one who can accurately interpret the message your soul is trying to convey. Listen. Go within. Pay attention. You will learn everything you need to know by doing this.

~pathwriter’s guidance journal

quote du jour ~merton – if you want…

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.

~Thomas Merton

if you ever wonder…

I daresay every teacher has one or two (or more) students that has carved a permanent place in his/her heart—the ones that you continue to think about, wondering where they are and how they’re doing. I have a few of my own, but the one that I’ve held most strongly in my thoughts is a girl that I’ll call Casey.

Back in the late 80s, I taught dance at a performing and visual arts magnet middle school in Raleigh, North Carolina. I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t there just to teach dance. I was there to make a difference in the children’s lives; I just happened to be using dance to do it. I could tell you lots of stories about the children whose lives were transformed by participating in the arts—dance, drama, music, visual art—but that’s another story for another time. This is Casey’s story.

One day, in the middle of the school year, the guidance counselor came to me and said, “There’s a new girl who has moved here to live with her aunt because they discovered that the girl’s father has been sexually abusing her since she was five, and her mother is too ill to care for her. Evidently, she’s taken a lot of dance in the town she comes from, so I enrolled her in your Jazz III class.”

I’d had a lot of kids with challenges in my classes…kids with learning disabilities, kids with behavioral problems, even a hearing-impaired girl who was also undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. I always found a way to manage, to make things work, like making sure that the hearing-impaired child could always see me so she could read my lips and see me count out the beats with my hands. I hadn’t encountered child abuse yet, but I knew that Casey was a 12-year-old girl who loved to dance. If dance was a place where she could feel safe and normal, we’d just go from there and figure it out along the way.

Casey was a good dancer and a good student. In class, she didn’t seem any different than the other kids. Then one morning, I walked into my office to find Casey curled into a ball on the floor, sobbing, petrified Continue reading

excerpt du jour ~broken open, by elizabeth lesser

A prayer for being brave and open on the journey of life…

Drum sounds rise on the air,
and with them, my heart.
A voice inside the beat says,
I know you are tired,
but come.
This is the way.

May you listen to the voice within the beat even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding, and leads you to freedom. If you are weary, may you be aroused by passion and purpose. If you are blameful and bitter, may you be sweetened by hope and humor. If you are frightened, may you be emboldened by a big consciousness far wiser than your fear. If you are lonely, may you find love, may you find friendship. If you are lost, may you understand that we are all lost, and still we are guided—by strange angels and sleeping giants, by our better and kinder natures, by the vibrant voice within the beat. May you follow that voice, for This is the way—the hero’s journey, the life worth living, the reason we are here.

~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

quote du jour ~kubler-ross – learn to get in touch…

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

it’s not WHAT you are, but HOW you are… sarah susanka

“The point is that if we’re not present in our lives, we’ll never see the opportunities that are there because they will almost certainly look nothing like what we are expecting, and we’ll be too busy doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing to notice.”

~Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big Life

If you haven’t read The Not So Big Life, I highly recommend it. To read the entire post….

what i have learned so far ~mary oliver

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion. Continue reading