A Spark of Life

A Spark of Life
Inside Sequoia Girl

Welcome...

Welcome to A Spark Of Life Transformations. I've created this blog to share some of the spiritual insights and effective methods for purposeful transformation that I've gleaned over the years. Also included are some bits and pieces of my own experiences and musings. I want to know about your experiences as well. What worked for you -- and what didn't. Ask a question. Make a statement. Share your heart. I only ask that you be respectful in your posts. I can't wait to get started!



Sunday, October 17, 2010

eHarmonious

Okay, I broke down and did it: I subscribed to an online dating service. Eek! I mean, I paid real money, not just the free subscription, you know, the ones where you can't see any photos or communicate with any of the inmates, er, members. I have done this under much internal resistance. "I don't need a relationship right now. I'm very, very busy." was what I told myself. "I have a full life. I have my business(es). I don't mind spending time alone." All true statements, but, I realized a while ago, that I had closed the door on new beginnings in relationships. Not only closed the door, slammed it, and nailed that sucker shut. Then bolted it.

If I dared to look through the peep hole in that heavily barricaded door, I would have to admit that there is still a part of me that wants romance and companionship and yes, passion. Not to mention support and someone to talk late into the night with and share some laughs.

So, I chose a online dating service that required a more in-depth analysis as I wasn't interested in having to screen through a bunch of Klingons: Please, pick me! I have so much love to give!!!!" aka: Mr. Emotional Black Hole or "Hi! Please send a full-length photo of yourself in your bathing suit, or less.  (wink, wink) When can we hook up?" blech.

The truth is, I'm terrified of "getting out there" again. I'm fifty-four years old and have not become so spiritually evolved that I totally love the extra forty pounds I gained going through mental-pause. MOst of the time when I look in the mirror, I think, "Who is that?!?"  In my mind, I still feel like I'm in my thirties. One of the reasons I appreciated Brad was because he accepted me for who I was, and was still turned on by me, even after I gained the weight.

Then there's the fact that I'm more settled into who I am and less willing to morph into what someone else wants from me. I mean, that was one of the main tricks in my bag! I was an expert at intuiting what someone wanted or needed and devoting large chunks of time to fulfilling it. Now what?

In spite of all this, I subscribed. I won't have to ever date or even speak to anyone, if I choose, and it will be a good exercise in opening my heart to possibilities, I reasoned. And, I can do it all from the safety of my living room.

So, I took the time to fill all of the questions out truthfully. After all, I didn't want to give and false hopes. I love to cook and hike and my family is very important to me. and I have only recently decided to consider being in a relationship again, so I tend to be cautious in my communications. I may elect to communicate via email initially before I venture further. and, under Something else you should know about me: I'm sparkely.  I included several pictures of myself from different angles plus a few of some activities I enjoy. Then, with a big sigh, I clicked the SUBSCRIBE button.

The next day I was surprised to find a dozen or so potential "matches". As I clicked on each profile I experienced a mixture of interest and dismay. Some of these guys looked really old! I mean, they were within the age range I had checked, but really, was I just delusional about the men my age? To be fair, some of them didn't look like they were already "circling the drain". Although none of them really struck a deep chord, a few looked interesting enough to want to know more. One guy lived fairly close by and, judging by some of his photos, seemed like he might be fun. He had a "cheddar head" picture, was originally from Wisconsin, something we both had in common.  There were a few others I thought might bear more research, so, I clicked on a preselected set of questions and awaited their answers.

Soon I received some questions from other members as well, and I clicked on their profiles to learn more. Ack! Too old. Too sad. Too needy. I left their questions unanswered and ventured back to the COMMUNICATING tab to see if my requested questions from Bruce, formerly from Wisconsin had been answered. Nothing. Upong further exploration, I discovered that, with a click of a button, you could cease communication with another member with out having to go through all that direct messy, "I don't think we're right for each other" crap. I clicked on his mailbox and found this disheartening reply:

bruce chose to close communication with you on October 16, 2010, 02:00PM PDT.


Finding the right person always comes with some degree of trial and error. Move forward and remain focused on the matches that interest you.


To move bruce to your Closed folder, please close him.


Really? I was rejected by a man wearing a huge wedge of cheese on his head?! Hey, I said I was Sparkely! Closed, it is. click. This dating business is not for the faint of heart, I realized anew. No wonder I had avoided it for so long. After licking my wounds for a few hours, I decided, once again, that I needed nothing from these emotionally dismembered "members". I had a perfectly fulfilling life and I went off to furiously clean my kitchen.


Each day a few more "matches" find their way into my mailbox. I click on their profiles and check them out. I noticed, that, while I want to think of myself as "spiritually evolved" appreance is important to me. I mean, he doesn't have to be an Adonis (although I wouldn't turn one down), but he needs to have a twinkle in his eyes and be reasonably fit.


What I've found more telling is the reasons listed under The most important thing I am looking for in a person is: 

The number one thing men seem to be looking for is: Honesty. Along with Integrity and Fidelity. Have so many men been betrayed by sneaky, conniving, cheating bitches? Are we women really so deceptive? I have to admit, they are some of the same things I am looking for in a mate. And it is precisely due to my past history in relationships. What if I had the ovaries to simply state: "I really want someone who can be themselves."?

I have a great long list of attributes that I have posted on one of my vision boards. Ond of the things I advise those I work with who are looking for a prospective mate is, after you have made your list, make another with the attributes of the type of person who would attract such a mate. And, then another list that honestly assesses which of those attributes you already possess and what areas you need to work on.


So, here's what I need to work on:


I still need to be willing to open my heart for another. To make a place to welcome them in and to extend and receive love to another. I closed my heart to this years ago and have barricaded the door so rigorously that my chest and shoulders ache from self-protection.


Part of my weight gain has also been from a need for self-protection. Not wanting others to get too close. To shield me from my own desirability. I don't need to access my passion I have a full life and I'm a very busy woman! I have been rebelling against more exercise and movement. I've never had to work at losing weight, being thin for most of my life and eating whatever I wanted. I'm pissed that I have to work at it now. But, I'm also sick of losing the strength and tone in my muscles and the continual ache in my left shoulder that makes my fingers tingle and my arm go numb.


Today I started yoga. I realized I did not feel comfortable or confident enough to go to a class yet, so I downloaded a video and followed along in a "beginners" yoga stretch. I could barely do half of the moves, and there was absolutely no way my body was doing a reverse table pose. But, I felt myself open just a little. I felt some of that anger and rebellion rise to the surface. "Oh sure", I thought as I watched the instructor on my computer. "You can do this because you are a skinny bitch!" Oh, the hostility! I also went out yesterday and found a set of dumbells at a garage sale. I started exercising my shoulder and neck muscles.

I decided I wanted my passion back and all the felxibilty and strength to go along with it. I might even buy a Zumba! DVD. Right now, I need to go for a long walk and transform that hostility into desire and passion. I need to go be with my friends, The Trees.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thank You, Dear Friend

Yesterday I said good bye to a dear friend and former lover. Brad and I have known each other for ten years and have experienced many adventures and misadventures, both internal and external. Brad recently took a job in South Florida and left yesterday to begin a new chapter in his life. He has helped me grow and change in so many ways -- sometimes willingly, at times, kicking and screaming the whole way. He is unbelievably intelligent, insightful and wise. We lived together for six of those ten years, but, recently I realized it was time for us to both move on to new experiences and relationships.

Although we have been living apart for the past six months, I still relied upon his support and companionship. While his departure has left me more than a bit lonely, I know he will be an asset to his new employers and to the future mate I know he so richly deserves. He has a delightfully wicked sense of humor and a smile that makes you want to know him more. He rarely gives up once he has committed himself and has a deep love and respct of nature and all living things.

I wish him all the best. Here's to you, Brad.

With Deep and Abiding Love and Friendship,

Melody

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I met a Mad Housewife and now I need a new phone.

OK, first of all, let me say I am not a techno-phobe. While I don't run out and buy the latest gadgets, I do appreciate some of the little gizmos that make our lives a little easier. While I'm not that fond of my friend Brad's GPS and the woman's voice with the calm british accent telling me to, "Turn, right! Turn right!" (I call her The Direction Bitch.), I do enjoy my laptop. After all, it's what's allowing me to be writing this blog right now.

So, back to my phone. I have an electric blue four year old Sanyo VI2300. I got it free when I signed a new contract with Sprint POS, I mean, PCS. It's not a fancy phone, by any means, but it has served me well and, in spite of leaving it outside in the rain a couple of times and dropping it on concrete more times than I'd care to count, it has proven to be quite durable. I still have the original battery and, although it doesn't keep a charge as long as it used to, it's still quite serviceable.

Even though I have thought about getting a fancy new phone that has more functions than my laptop, I have stubbornly resisted since my current phone still works. I mean, do I need a phone that I can draw tarot cards on, really? I don't even text all that much. And besides, I don't like contributing to unnecessary landfill waste.

Now, about that Mad Housewife. So, a few weekends ago I went to a sleepover with a few women friends. I brought along bottle of Mad Housewife merlot wine. (I mean, how can you not buy a bottle of wine to drink with your girlfriends with a label like that?) We had a fabulous time, shared a lot of laughs and drank some delicious wines and had a fabulous dinner, plus I met a great new friend. (Hey Katy!)

After a lovely breakfast cooked by the hostess, I packed to go home and Terri insisted that I bring the remnants of the very drinkable Mad Housewife merlot home with me. After saying my goodbyes, I drove home and decided to take a nice long detox bath, a wonderful treat after a night of indulgence. If you've never had one of these, you must give it a try. It works wonders for clearing out toxins from over-indulgence and/or residual energies from emotional disturbances.

Here's the recipe:

In a tubful of whatever temperature of water that feels right for the situation add:

1 lb. baking soda
1 lb. epsom salts
1 lb. sea salt

Stir until dissolved and get in and soak for at least 20 minutes. Perfect time to read a chapter in your favorite book or pamper yourself with a facial. Add a handful of herbs or a few dashes of your favorite essential oils, if you like.

So, anyway. I decide to take one of these fabulous baths, right? I get the water running, shed my clothes and I'm anxious to slide into the water and soak when I realize I am out of sea salt in my upstairs bathroom. I dash downstairs with the water still running and reach for the sea salt from the cabinet. On the way out, the end of the sea salt bag catches the top of the Mad Housewife that was sitting on my kitchen counter. I am standing there in the buff, listening to my bath water run upstairs while watching this all happen in slo-mo. The bottle of merlot does a complete 360 and lands with an explosive blast on my beautiful, but unforgiving tile floor. I mean, it literally explodes. There is glass everywhere and dark purple droplets of wine cover the the floor, the face of my cabinets -- and my naked body.

I sputter as I look around at the tile floor littered with shards of dark green glass. Suddenly, the running bath registers again and I make an executive decision: I grab an old towel that lies nearby and throw it onto the widening puddle of wine at my feet. I am so not dealing with this now, I think and carefully back out of the room.

I dash back upstairs and thankfully realize the tub is not over-flowing, throw in the sea salt and sink in to relax. I feel a sting in my big toe and realize I have suffered a tiny cut from the broken glass. Not to worry, the soak will do it good.

After my lovely bath,  I return to my kitchen and assess the damage. Wine is beginning to dry on my cabinets and the stained label with Mrs. Mad Housewife stares back at me from the floor. I get the broom and a bucket filled with soapy water and begin to clean up. When I say there is literally glass on every square in of my kitchen floor, I do not exaggerate. After sweeping and then mopping the floor several times to get the last of the wine up. (It thankfully doesn't stain the tile.) I set the bucket at the end of my couch in the living room and wait for the floor to dry. 

While I'm waiting for the floor to dry I sit down on the couch to relax and check my email. As I bounce onto the couch cushion, out of the corner of my eye, I see something fly off the end of the couch and hear a muted 'ka-thunk'. I look over at the floor, but I see nothing so I continue with checking my email and then, sleepy from the bath, I lay down for a quick power nap.

After my nap I wander to the kitchen and check out the floor, which seems clean, but my foot finds another tiny shard of glass and I limp back to the couch to examine the cut. I see a little blood, but can find no evidence of glass, but it's hard to see, even with my glasses. By now it's quit bleeding so I get up to empty out the mop water and notice, curiously, that there is a little black cord running into the bucket. Shit!

I yank the cord out of the water and unplug it from the wall when I realize it is the wall charger to my ancient cell phone. The end of it is hot and a bit of the sponge from the mop head has welded itself into the plug. Shit! I don't want to have to buy another wall charger, which will probably cost more than the phone is worth. I just wanted to limp along with my cell until it died and I had to buy a new one. But, even after I dry it out and clean out the little plug, I realize it's fried. Big sigh.

Just as I'm ready to make a trip to the Sprint store, Brad stops by and offers a converter so I can use the car charger as a wall charger. My day brightens. I can put off for another day that difficult long-term commitment with the phone company and agonizing over choices of multi-dimensional phones, all with the latest "apps". I sure could use that last glass of Mad Housewife merlot about now...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Decadent Experiment

I have a confession to make. I did something this week that I would never have thought I'd do on a million years: I made love to money -- and I liked it. I know, I know! It seems to decidedly un-spiritual and is so unlike me. Or so I thought. 

First, a bit of my background concerning money: I come from very simple beginnings. My family was quite poor for all of my childhood. I was conceived into an atmosphere of the fear of never having enough. My mother had five children, close together and my father's employment history was spotty. So mom was overwhelmed a lot and worried about her survival -- something she also grew up with, and, my father, while a hard worker, had an attitude of doing enough to just get by. He was not driven or ambitious. He loved his family, but was just not cut from the cloth of the traditional ideas of being motivated for financial success.

Consequently, in relationships I chose men who were constantly worried about money, were overwhelmed by their financial responsibilities and usually had just enough to get by, or less. Sometimes a whole lot less than enough. So, I spent a good deal of my life anxious about not having enough money.

About fifteen years ago, I was in a very dark place both personally and financially. I fell into a deep depression that lasted for over six years. During that time I was unable to work more than a few hours here and there -- just enough to keep from being homeless.  I made a decision somewhere in the midst of all that darkness, that, though I didn't know what the future might hold, I had to do something to get out of it, even if it was wrong. So, I began the long, slow road out of depression and destitution. It was painful and embarrassing and I had to let go of my pride and, in humility, ask for help.

I slowly recovered to a point where I became more financially stable. I led a very simple life and learned to live within or below my means. I regained my credit and, for the most part, remained out of debt. I got involved with a man who was much more disciplined financially that my previous partners and he also lived within his means. After working for several years at a "regular job", I decided I'd had enough of the stress and working for someone else's dreams and started my own landscaping business. It was a huge decision for me. It had been over twenty years since I last owned a business.

Initially, the landscaping business did well, but then, due to normal seasonal fluctuations, business slowed, then stopped. Completely. I watched myself become nervous, and then anxious, and then totally immobilized by fear. But, in the midst of this anxiety, I decided to confront my fears about money and my ability to support myself. So, since I wasn't working anyway, I decided to use my time revealing and healing my issues around money and my ability to manifest. This was not an easy choice for me to make. I quickly blew through my little savings and went into credit card debit.

My significant other did not support my choice to focus on my financial healing as he was feeling the effects of my negative cash flow on his own budget. What I was doing seemed totally unreasonable to him. Friends and family thought I was floundering -- "doing nothing". But, I made a commitment to challenge these old, encrusted and debilitating beliefs. Perhaps I will go into the details of this process in another post, but for the purposes of this post, suffice it to say that it was a difficult, but rewarding process for me and I emerged more confident and better able to manifest financially.

That was over three years ago. And, while I am not wealthy by any means, I was able to pay off my debts in full and have lived a comfortable life. Recently, As many of you know, and in keeping with my life-long need to push my comfort edges and grow, I realized that, though I had made some very positive changes in my financial situation, and was happily growing spiritually, I wasn't feeling the rich fullness in my emotional and sensual life. I wasn't overflowing with joy, and, while I had my moments, I wasn't deeply depressed either. I was stuck in a state of having "just enough" in my emotional life. (I am getting to the making love to money part, I promise!)

While at Summerhill, and actually prior to my Soul Coaching training, I had begun to realize how I had put aside my personal happiness and experience of pleasure in favor of becoming more financially and emotionally independent. I was really getting more than a little tired of not feeling my passion. At Summerhill, I found a tremendous sense of peace while there and and many moments of great fun shared with my Soul Sisters, but, I had concluded -- incorrectly, that after the third major romantic relationship in my adult life had ended, happiness was a fleeting emotional state, that depended on life's circumstances and was not to be relied upon. It was what my mind had tried to convince my body of, anyway.

But, as I was awakening a richer, deeper spiritual life, filled with relationships with amazing women, my body also began to awaken. And, after such a long slumber, it wasn't exactly bounding out of bed ready to embrace the day. My body has been grudging, at best in my reawakening and downright cranky at others. Maybe I wasn't happy, but I was comfortable, my body reasoned to my mind. Just let me sleep! 

Fine, my spirit whispered, but you're the one who said you were ready for a new relationship. Do you think you're new partner will want to spend his time waiting for you to coax your body to wake up?? Aw, crap.

One day a few weeks ago, while listening to Hay House Radio, I heard Dr. Christiane Northrup talk about how we as women deny our own pleasure and satisfaction, sacrificing it on the so-called alter of serving others. During her program, she interviewed Regena Thomashauer, or Mama Gena, and she goes by. I checked out her website and the more I read, the more I was intrigued. She speaks some fabulously outrageous truths about women and our ability to change the world through experiencing and being in command of our pleasure.

Now, Mama Gena has written some fine books on women and pleasure and I ordered some of them that day. (Hey, it's research!) I was particularly interested in Mama Gena's Owner's and Operator's Guide to Men since I was preparing for my new romantic relationship. Even if you're currently in relationship, this book has some excellent ideas in taking responsibility for your own pleasure and for interacting with your partner.

On her website, one of Mama Gena's Sister Goddesses (Don't you just love that term?) Elvira was talking about her visualizations and exercise for bringing money into her life. (You can listen to it by clicking here.)  Here was the idea she and one of her Sister Goddesses concocted:  First they created a special ambiance in their bedrooms -- made it a sacred place of pleasure. Then they covered their beds in -- are you ready -- cash. And then they self-pleasured in the middle of that pile of cash. Well, it sounded so outrageous I just had to try it! I went to the bank and withdrew a thousand dollars in cash. I decided on smaller bills so it would have more volume. You'd be surprised how little space $1000.00 takes up. As I was waiting for my check to be cashed I kept my head down, silently praying they wouldn't ask me what I need it for.

Now, let me tell you, this exercise challenged all my ideas about what money is and was used for. And, it challenged my very serious image of myself as "spiritual teacher". I just could not bring myself to carry it out. What did this say about me and my ideals?  What sort of images did I carry about money? (i.e.: Money is dirty and is connected with selfishness, greed and lust.) And further, if I had such negative judgments about money, wasn't I pushing financial away by not wanting to associate myself with those negative judgements? If I developed a more friendly relationship with money, wouldn't I just be distracted by having it instead of following my spiritual path? The money sat in the bottom drawer of my desk under a stack of envelopes and mailing labels for over a week.

But, what I want to teach others, and women especially, is not only to be empowered, but how to have fun doing it. I knew that if I wanted to realize my dream of one day owning a retreat center for healers and to travel and speak around the world and assist others in their own empowerment and healing, it would take money. And, I could no longer remain in the dark about my judgments about it. So I was ready to play full out in this little experiment.

I decided to reframe my beliefs about money and make it sacred and an energy gift that would allow me to better serve myself and others. I took a shower and carefully prepared my room. I lit a candle and burned some sweet smelling incense. I had my luxurious 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets on the bed. Selecting some soft, sensual music. I pulled back the covers then took the cash out of the bank envelopes and spread them across the top of the bed and stood back to look at it.

I noticed what I was feeling. First, I was grateful to be able to have enough cash to withdraw for this exercise, and I remembered that creative energy and sexual energy are intertwined in the body. I found my body to be surprisingly responsive and in the mood of the moment. Holding out my hands, I blessed the money and all it had done and all that it would do. Then I slid into bed and laid there, noticing the coolness of the paper against my skin. I rubbed a few bills across my body and found it to be more pleasurable than I expected. I let the music wash over me and just stayed in the sensations of the moment, not judging or trying to reason what was happening.

As I continued with this delicious experiment, I remembered hearing of couples who, in creating a child, held the highest spiritual image for that child in their minds and hearts as they experienced their ecstasy. I decided to do the same, only with the image of my healing center held in my mind and my heart. As I touched myself and my sensual energy rose, I clearly visualized the beautiful land and buildings where people could come to learn and to heal -- a sacred and beautiful respite for the mind, body and soul.
Denise Linn's Summerhill Ranch is a wonderful model for the retreat center I plan to create.

It is said that we are more closely connected to the Divine during sexual ecstasy. I truly felt connected to the Divine and I recognized money as part of that Divine flow of light. Not something to be worshiped or desperately sought after, but as one ingredient in the manifestation of my dreams. I saw streams of light coming down from heaven, through my body and into the earth. Entwined in these streams of light was money. I realized it was not mine, as in ownership, but to be used by me in service to myself and others. I also learned that I had done the hard work of clearing out my fears of lack and unconsciousness attitudes and behaviors concerning money and I could be trusted to be a worthy steward of financial reward.

I felt I had so changed my ideas about money that I left the money in my bed for the rest of the week, to surround myself with it's energy and possibilities. It was, for me, a terribly decadent and thoroughly enjoyable experiment. And I can't wait to see the results! Maybe you want to conduct your own experiment. Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An Amazing Past Life

Hello there,

Part of the certification training I received at Denise Linn's Summerhill ranch this spring was for Past Life Regressionist. I come from a fundamentalist background that had no belief in an afterlife or past lives. Basically, when you're dead, you're dead. So, I have had to break through this conditioning to accept and understand what past lives I have experienced and how they have affected me in this life.

At Summerhill we explored some of our past life experiences as we conducted regressions with each other. I had an amazing conclusion to a past life memory that had started at Denise's seminar at last November's Hay House I Can Do It conference in Tampa. I'll tell you more about that in another post. In any event, I have had a few regressions in my life and some spontaneous past life memories.

Recently, Denise Wigent, a very dear friend and fellow lightworker offered a session where she combine her talents as a reiki practitioner with chakra balancing and an archangel meditation by Doreen Virtue. Denise's sessions are always so healing and relaxing and I feel like I've had a full hour massage afterward, so of course, I said yes! 
Denise holding a gardenia from one of my gardenia bushes.

After I laid down on the table, she checked my chakras and started the Doreen Virtue Angel Therapy meditation. In this particular meditation, Doreen gently brings in the Archangels, one at a time, and asks them to conduct healings on your behalf. I found myself paying close attention to some of the archangels messages and drifting off on others. All seemed to flow perfectly as Denise lovingly gave me reiki.

However, in one particular spot in the meditation, Doreen talked about past lives and allowed time to explore a past life. The most amazing vision came to me: I saw myself as a High Priestess in a land, many centuries ago. I was standing on a stage or platform, dressed in a beautiful flowing violet-blue gown, tied at the waist with a braided gold belt and wearing a gold tiara or crown. I was looking out over the sea of my followers.

On the stage next to me were my two children from this life. They were young, about ten and twelve years old and they looked exactly as they had in this life. They were beautiful. I noticed the tremendous love that flowed between myself and my subjects. They looked to me for guidance and wisdom and I loved them deeply and offered what ever I could in return. I wish I could paint this image as it was so beautiful. My followers were dressed in the same blue-violet robes and all were happy and content. It was a very peaceful and beautiful lifetime for me.

While in this vision, I wondered if I had a husband as, after all, I had two children. Suddenly I noticed that, standing behind me were, not one, but seven men who were devoted to me, adored me and loved to serve me. Each of the seven men had particular strengths and talent in each area of one of the chakras and were dressed in the color of their particular chakra. They all smiled as I turned to look at them. It was the most amazing, beautiful experience and tears of joy came to my eyes remembering it.

What I took away from this particular past life experience, was that a big part of my strength and purpose in this life came from that past life, and that knowledge has followed me through each lifetime. I also realized that as I explore and prepare for a new romantic relationship, I am to reflect on and appreciate the strengths of each man I meet, whether they are a potential interest or not. And, more importantly, to allow men to serve me in this lifetime, rather than losing myself in serving them in order to receive security and approval.

What a truly amazing experience. Thank you so much to both of the Denises in my life!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dancing!

Wednesday was my first full dance instruction. I got all dolled up -- Loki, the instructor is very handsome. :) and even bought a new pair of dancing shoes. I was a bit nervous and self-conscious as I am working on improving confidence in my body. I arrived to the dance studio, clutching my new shoes only to find the door locked and the studio dark! Okay, I thought, he's stepped out for lunch and is not back yet, plus I was a few minutes early. I wandered into a nearby shop for a few minutes and then returned to the studio. Still no Loki.

I was curious to see some of my insecurities rise to the surface and feelings of a fear of being rejected or forgotten. My appointment wasn't a priority for him. was the thought that surfaced. I was a bit surprised at my reaction, but realized how vulnerable I felt in taking these lessons. Dancing, for me, is the body expressing art and beauty in motion. It felt very personal.


My Soul Sisters Tracy and Jane, dancing in the Dance Barn at Summerhill Ranch during the Soul Coaching workshop. You go girls!

I wandered down the street and checked into other shops before returning to the studio to find it still locked. Now I was downright irritated. It was hot out and I was sweating and feeling decidedly less enthusiastic and confident. I pulled out my cell phone and was about to leave a message on the studio's voicemail when Loki ran to unlock the door, apologizing profusely about not managing his time better.

"Why are you making me stand out here and sweat?" I tried to say it in a teasing manner, but I think he got that I was not pleased. I gave myself a moment while he turned the lights on and did a little self-talk. You are here to learn and enjoy yourself and you can shift this mood. I felt it lighten a bit as I put on my new dancing shoes. Loki apologized again and said that today's lesson would be free as his apology for being late. I smiled. That certainly helped the shift.

Spotting my new shoes he said, "I am impressed! Buying dancing shoes is a commitment. I know when people are serious about dance when they buy a pair of shoes."

The lesson went very well and I had a lot of fun learning some of the steps of the more common dances with Loki smiling and encouraging me. He has a marvellous way of teaching that helps you understand the thinking behind the moves. I found my self-consciousness disappearing as we moved through the dances and, even when the next student arrived early and sat down to watch, I was undeterred. I can't wait for the next lesson.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 28 Final Day of the Soul Coaching Program & My Quest

"I give love deeply and fully. I receive love deeply and fully. My essence is love." - from the book Soul Coaching by Denise Linn

I have to tell you that the 28 Day Soul Coaching Program was more powerful than I expected. Although I hit a few rough patches and skipped a few days, it didn't seem to matter as I felt I was being propelled toward my changes. I feel lighter, and blessed to have a marvellous circle of Soul Sisters to rely upon. I've taken some brave new personal steps (more about that later) and feel as though I'm on the edge of a new adventure.

One big "aha" for me during this time has been my realization that my experience of happiness if fully in my hands, and that I must decide when and where I want to experience it. I have put my own happiness off for a variety of reasons: I have to get my work done first. (Ha! Like that ever happens.) I have to work through or "process" this problem first. Other people's needs are what is important now, not my own. I am being selfish. I need someone to share it with. blah, blah, blah...

Last week I took advantage of a coupon someone gave me for a introductory dance lesson. My instructor was a beautiful and talented man named Loki. He was patient, had a marvellous sense of humor and I felt like he could look into my soul. Our lesson was just for a half hour, but he spotted the drama queen in me and the part that loves being the center of attention. "Have we met?" I asked him. He just smiled and said, "I am very intuitive." Well, I just had to sign up for six one-hour private lessons. Today is my first full lesson!

At one point during the introductory lesson I nearly started crying as I felt my decision to take these lessons was a decision to live in my joy. It was also a decision to listen to my body better, and to trust and allow another to lead -- something I am not accustomed to doing. It is also part of my preparation to make myself available for a totally new relationship. I have a feeling I am in for a wild ride...

This last weekend I went on my Quest. A Quest is a journey you take to ask your soul to reveal what you have learned on your 28 Day Soul Coaching Program. The idea is to go somewhere you can quietly reflect and call on your Soul and guides to reveal whatever it is you need to see.

I decided to combine two adventures into one. I was going to meet my former significant other (and still great friend) as he was travelling on a soul journey of his own. An avid hiker and backpacker, he had decided to hike the entire Florida trail which runs 1100 miles from the Florida Everglades to Pensacola at the far western edge of the state.  He had started out on his journeya few days after I had left for my Soul Coaching training at Denise Linn's Summerhill Ranch in Paso Robles, California.

Last weekend was his fortieth birthday and I wanted to surprise B (as I will call him here) and meet up with him along the trail. He had been diligently planning his trip for weeks and I knew he would be at a particularly favorite camping spot of ours in the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee, Florida.  I packed up a few treats and a fresh change of clothes and set out to backpack into a place we had named "Cali Point". Cali Point has a beautiful story all it's own that I will share with another time.

I had mixed emotions as I hiked back into the woods. We had ended out relationship over a year ago, yet were able to remain friends and stay in close contact with each other. We talked regularly via cell phone over the past few weeks where I received updates on his progress and experiences along the way. Although I planned to arrive at the campsite a few hours earlier than I expected B to arrive, giving myself some time alone there to reflect over the past month, I questioned my choice to combine my Quest with this reunion. Was I avoiding being alone? Was I creating a convenient distraction for myself?

I had had a very vivid dream a few weeks earlier where I was with B and my younger sister. In my dream, they were each going on a separate trip and I knew I would not be seeing them again for a long time, if ever. They both seemed at ease and eager to go on their respective trips, but I was sad that they were leaving and felt that loss quite keenly. I had been planning this trip for weeks, but suddenly I questioned my motives for going. Was I unwilling to let go of this relationship and move on, as I claimed I was ready to do? (Hey, I put it on my Soul Collage!) But, I looked into my heart and felt it was really what I wanted to do. I was so proud of B for making this trip. I admired the determination and stamina it took to do it, plus, I wanted to be there to celebrate his milestone birthday with him.

I thought about this dream again as I neared the campsite. It was hot and humid, as it is in Florida in the summer. I was perspiring profusely, but was not uncomfortable as I made my way through trails and forest roads I had travelled dozens of times. I found myself excited in anticipation of the look of surprise on his face when he saw the camp I had set up for his arrival.

Cali Point is an elevated peninsula between the Sopchoppy River and Monkey Creek. Live oak, cypress and cedar trees line the river banks, along with long leaf pines. They form a beautiful canopy of shade over the spot where I would pitch my tent. I set up the tent and then strung up my new hammock, complete with enclosed screen and climbed inside. I looked up through the trees to the blue sky, took a few deep breaths and asked my guides to come to me with any messages or symbols I needed. The wind whispered softly through the  pines and the creek gurgled in the background. Even the buzzing of the pesky yellow flies seemed music to my meditation.

I found myself keeping one eye out for B coming up the trail, afraid he would see the tent, presume someone else had taken his spot, and back away to find somewhere else to camp. I started giving myself grief about not being able to go deeply into meditation and receive a profound message. Instead, I decided to just be grateful for the experience of being there. Once I made that choice, I soon expereicned a wave of gratitude flood over me for everything B and I had experienced together. I was especially grateful that we had been able to maintain the best parts of our relationship. We share a deep love of nature and respect for the earth. We both love adventure and exploring and learning. We also have the same irreverent, sardonic sense of humor.

Then I realized that this was the message I was supposed to receive: To deeply cherish the blessings of the people I care about and to release the pain in order to experience my joy and happiness. I really felt so very blessed to have known B. He has helped me grow in so many ways.

Suddenly I heard footsteps and looked up to see B walking toward the campsite, slowing as he saw my tent. He stopped for a moment and peered at the hammock. It was a bit difficult to see through the screen, I imagined. Then I saw a huge grin of recognition spread across his face.

"I'm sorry, you can't camp here mister," I said with a grin, then shouted, "Happy Birthday!"

He laughed. " This is the best birthday present ever!"

I climbed out of the hammock and walked toward him. I was shocked and delighted to find that he had lost what looked like forty pounds since the last time I'd seen him. I gave him a big hug and told him how great he looked. He said that he had hoped I would surprise him on his birthday, but he tried hard not to expect it so he wouldn't be too disappointed if I wasn't there.

I couldn't stop staring at him. He looked absolutely radiant. He smiled all the time and seemed truly at peace. It was so great to see him that way. I felt myself attracted to him all over again. He unloaded his pack and we went down to the river to cool off as he told me more about his trip. He'd seen a yearling bear close up just the previous day who had just stared at him without running away. "You are one with nature now," I teased. "Besides, you probably smelled like one of his clan."

After cleaning up a bit he donned the tee shirt I had gotten for him in Sequoia National Forest, then I took him into a nearby town to pick up a few supplies andwhere we had Mexican at a local restaurant. Back at camp we listened as a thunderstorm circled around us. There is nothing quite like being in a thunderstorm with nothing between you and the fury of the storm but a thin piece of cloth. I sat inside the tent and away from the biting flies as B prepared his pack for the next day. I commented how much more serene he seemed and just how much I had appreciated him being able to keep the good parts of our relationship without hanging on to the bitterness and pain. We talked into the night and he read me a few pages from his journal that he had been keeping before we drifted off to sleep accompanied by the music of the cicadas and crickets. It was really a very lovely experience.

Although we awoke at six o'clock the next morning, we were slow to get going. We finished eating the fresh fruit I had brought along, then packed up camp. I took a few things with me that he no longer needed to make his pack (which averages about 55 pounds) a little lighter. We walked together for about .7 of a mile until the trail separated where he needed to go and where I would go back to my car. I knew he would have liked me to linger with him longer and I was tempted, but one of the lessons I am learning is taking care of myself, and I had made plans with some other friends for later that day.

We said an emotional good bye with more hugs and kisses and then we each walked our separate ways, I looked back now and again until he disappeared into the rows of slash pines.

As I returned to my car, I noticed hundreds of beautiful, huge butterflies, mostly swallowtails flitting along the forest road. Here was my symbol -- it represented transformation!

I look forward to seeing him again in a few weeks when I will bring him more supplies and then will pick him up once he reaches the final trail head. He is a remarkable person and a part of me thinks about trying it again with him. A lot of the issues we both struggled with during our relationship have been healing since we separated. But, a part of me knows we each have our own paths to follow. My goal is to live in the present, so I try not to project into the future too much about what might be. All I know right now is that I am truly grateful to have known him and so glad I included B in my Quest.

Blessings to all.

Melody


Friday, June 11, 2010

Days 26 & 27 of the 28-Day Soul Coaching Adventure

Good Morning,

This has not been an easy week for me. Heavy, dark emotions have been rising to the surface and I found myself zoning out on TV and other distractions. I mentioned earlier that I have had bouts of depression, and the truth is I have had them most of my adult life. Usually I either stay busy to keep them at bay or zone out at I earlier described. This week, however, I honestly became quite fed up with the depression and started talking to my stove (yes, my stove) about how I felt about it insinuating itself into my life -- even (and especially!) when things were going well.

I cried and yelled at my stove as I cooked my dinner of green curried vegetables, as the waves of bitterness and disappointment at still having to dealt with this heavy energy that seemed to push against every thing I attempt to do rolled over me. I drank a good glass of home made wild persimmon wine and eyed the cake that had been given to me at work.  I self-medicated for sure, but it was a conscious decision and I tried to go high-quality.

Anger at having to go through the tough time in my life alone surfaced as well. But then I realized I am not alone, but I often chose to deal with things alone because of the shame and regret I feel from judging myself for not having my shit together better. I thought of my dear Soul Sisters and my beautiful experience in California and decided to email them and -- ask for their prayers and support. Novel idea, huh?

Well now, asking for help is not an easy thing for me to do. After all, I want at all times to appear competent, confident, and wise. Yelling at your stove and sobbing into your wine -- even if it is home mad wild persimmon wine, does not scream competent! But, one of the things I put on my Soul Collage was a picture that represented me forging new, healthy relationships with women. So now it was time for me to put up or shut up.

So, I sat down at my computer and poured my heart out to my beautiful sisters as I cried and ate my green curried vegetables and drank my home made wine. Even before I finished writing the email, I felt their love and support surround me like a soft comforter. And their responses lifted me even higher with their tender words of compassion and wisdom. I am truly blessed to have met these women.

Day 26:

"I am at home, no matter where I am." -- from the book Soul Coaching by Denise Linn
One of today's exercises was to bring nature into your home in some way. I have to admit that although I did not read this exercise until the day after, I found that I had already done it. Ever since I got back from California, I have been bringing in cut flowers. Gardenias, hydrangeas, roses, black-eyed susans, sunflowers, lilies. Even when I was feeling the worst of my emotional state, I could look at them and feel a small sense of peace.



Day 27:
"My future is filled with love, joy and peace." -- from the book Soul Coaching by Denise Linn


Today's execise is about envisioning yourself in a future filled with your heart's desires. I have to admit I feel a bit challened by this exercise today with the daily reports of the impending oil slick coming ashore. I took a dive down to the beach and walked out to the shoreline to see if I could find any evidence of tar balls. And, while I found none, I did find the water to be as thick and green as pea soup from algae and seaweed. I don't think I have ever seen the algae that thick.
I sat on the sand for a while and looked out into the ocean and sent out love and healing. But the beach was unusually still and, at first I the only wildlife I saw was a few pigeons and some terns, who have a protected nesting area nearby. I couldn't shake the feeling of death in the air. Eventually, I saw a single osprey circle overhead and dive into the sea, but came it up empty. I watched him circle over the beach and fly back toward the rising sun. I sent him love and protection. A little while later a lone, tattered-looking seagull also flew overhead and down the beach toward the sunrise. I felt a tiny ray of hope from these lonely creatures.

I will check in later with the further results of today's exercise.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

THE BIG PICTURE: The oil spill and our current state of affairs

The Big Picture in all of this mess is that it can be a huge wake up call for all of us. People are understandably upset because their way of life has been changed in a moment -- possibly forever. The fishing ban area is widening daily. Tourism has slowed to a trickle. Businesses that have been going for generations have ground to a halt. Life as we have known it forever will change. But, maybe that's not all a bad thing.

Like the financial market degeneration and the health care system, these enterprises have been infused with fear and fueled by greed. Over the years they have become top heavy and unsustainable. There were opportunities in the past to change the direction of these systems, but greed won out over common sense and integrity. And, I am not just talking about the greed and fear of the financial institutions or health care providers.

As consumers, we are responsible for where our dollars go and with whom we invest our trust. Have we been diligent in asking the probing questions that would reveal the nature and integrity of those in whom we have entrusted our livelihoods and health care? Do we take responsibility for our own health and health care or do we trash our diets or live lifestyles that deplete our bodies and then expect drugs or doctors or hospitals to "cure" us? Do we make conscientious choices about where we spend and invest our hard-earned dollars or do we want the highest return for our dollar and turn a blind eye to how that rate of return has been created?



And now we have the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico -- another unchecked industry fueled by greed. It's deja vu all over again Instead of a demand for alternative fuels that have a reduced impact on the environment, we complained about high gas prices and pushed for expanded oil exploration in some of the planets most vulnerable areas.



Okay, I hear you mumbling -- more negativity about a negative subject. What good does that do? But there is a ray of hope in all of this, really there is. I honestly don't see a repair of the current system, the tipping factor has been reached, and unfortunately, lasting collateral damage is the result. BUT, we now have a tremendous opportunity now for restructuring our economy, our health care and the way we meet our energy needs.

We can take more responsibility by reducing our spending and consumption on items that pollute our water and clog our landfills and generally damage our planet. See the Story of Stuff Drive less, walk more. Eat (real) food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (To paraphrase Michael Pollan) Hug a tree. Get out in nature. Pick up your trash. Learn to plant a garden, maybe even a community garden
GOOD NEWS! When we change our habits the market will adjust to our needs. When we demand integrity and quality, and refuse to settle for less, the market will rise up to our level of integrity. When we band together and join our single voice with the voices of the many, the market will adjust to our demands.

Doubtful about your affect on machinations of giant corporations or your government? Look at what has happened in the food industry over the past few years. When I owned my health food store back in the 1980's, you'd be hard pressed to find many products on the grocery store shelves that were free of hydrogenated fats, MSG or high fructose corn syrup, let alone gluten free. Now you can find a huge selection of these products because consumers stopped buying these products and went elsewhere to shop.

We can and will affect a change. What that change is, will be dependant entirely upon our choices. Reclaim your empowerment. Make your voice heard. Buy less. Recycle and reuse more. Mostly local. Vote with your dollars. Support products, businesses and individuals whose ideals and integrity reflect your own.  


The antidote for greed is the Grace of Reverence. When you treat yourself and your body with sacred reverence, you will have reverence for your family, your community and the earth. It's no coincidence that the most loving thing you can do for this planet just happens to be the most loving thing you can do for yourself.



Many blessings and grace,

Melody

Suggested Reading:
Reclaiming Our Democracy by Sam Harris
Defy Gravity by Caroline Myss

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Days 17 - 21 of Fire Week 28-Day Soul Coaching Program

Whew! It's hard to believe it's been over a week since I last posted. There was a lot of sun here in Florida and it's been hot - August hot. Heat indexes have been in the triple digits. I have to constantly remind my self to re-hydrate and to replace my electrolytes. Landscaping has been a challenge and when I get too hot I get cranky! I was a bit disappointed that I did not follow the exercises for each day faithfully, but I remembered Denise said there would be days like this and just to move on to the next day and don't look back.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 16, Fire Week -- 28 Day Soul Coaching Program

"I am free to experience joy in every moment... no matter what is happening in my life." -- from the book Soul Coaching by Denise Linn

Today we are challenged to take a risk and step out of our comfort zone so  dug out a flyer I had been holding onto for months and made a phone call. I left a message to enroll in dance lessons! I love to dance and have always wante to take lessons but had always felt too self-conscious to do it. Now I am excited to get started.

Oh yeah, I also finished reassembling my Soul Coaching Collage. It's almost as I first created it in California, but I put it on black poster board. I think it makes it stand out more. What do you think?


Day 15 - The first day of Fire Week, 28 Day Soul Coaching Program

" I am safe." -- from the book Soul Coaching by Denise Linn

The element Fire represents Spirit and this week I will be cleansing my spiritual life. Today we examine the fears and shining the light on them, we lessen their power over us.

Here is a partial list of fears I find lurking beneath the surface:

Loneliness
Being overwhelmed
Abandonment
Being criticized
Being wrong
Being unloveable
Not being enough
Being undesirable

At the moment loneliness seems to be dominating my consciousness. Normally I enjoy spending time alone. I like moving about my house in the morning, making coffee, catching up on my email and listening to the birds sing outside my door. Lately however, I have been overcome with incredible bouts of loneliness, especially this holiday weekend. I have no family nearby and with Father's Day coming up, I've been missing Dad.

So, my challenge is to name this fear and then imagine the worst-case scenario and then list how I would not only survive, but thrive in it. OK, here goes:

My deepest fear is that I will be alone the rest of my life, without a spiritual and romantic partner to share my life with. No one to laugh and sing goofy songs with. No one whose shoulder I can cry on or give me a hug when I feel down or lost or overwhelmed. No one to share my bed with. No one to cook for. No one who will be there, supporting me and encouraging me, both in my successes and challenges.

Whew! That feels so heavy in the pit of my stomach and I feel a tightness in my chest.

Now, how can I survive and even thrive being alone? Well, I certainly know I can survive being alone. I have a very full life and have interests and a list of projects and ideas to work on that will carry me into the next lifetime. I have dear friends and my sisters (and Soul Sisters!) that I can call on when I need support.  I love and enjoy food and art and nature and beauty and I have people who are ready and willing to join me in the experience. The truth is I am without a romantic partner and I am thriving now.

I used to have a sign posted over my computer that read,
"Anxiety is just frozen fun -- so defrost yourself!"
I think I will make another one and post it today.

Today I racked some home made wine (fire water??) that I had started months ago. I love making wine and when I rack the wine, or siphon it off the sediment or "lees" into a new container, I always get a generous taste to see how it's coming along and today it warmed me nicely. If you come to visit me, I'd be happy to share a bottle with you.

With Grace and Gratitude,

Melody

Days 14 of Water Week - 28 Day Soul Coaching Program

"Who I am is enough, just as I am." -- from the book Soul Coaching by Denise Linn

Today is the last day of Water Week and it has been an intense emotional week. On this last day we are challenged to look at our "victimhood" thinking and to look at the types of questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis. Questions such as, "Why can't I lose weight?" or "Will I ever find a partner?" When we recognize that we are thinking these self-defeating thoughts, we can change them to what Denise terms a "noble question" such as, "How can I experience more, love, joy, vibrancy... ?"


I was afforded a very vivid look at some of my dark, defeating thoughts. In the past, I've been given to bouts of depression and anxiety and today I saw the deep feelings of fear and unworthiness that was at the core of these thoughts. I had a fairly unstructured day where I napped and played computer games. When thoughts like, "Why are you being so lazy, there's so much to do here?" I made a conscious choice to reframe those thoughts into, "How can I rest and nurture myself today?" I watched a movie and made a delicious dinner with a salad with fresh spring greens, sweet grape tomatoes and goat cheese and ramen noodle soup, a dish I've always associated with comfort food.

When I felt overwhelmed by my emotions, I remembered the quote we learned at Soul Camp; "It's just stuff, and it's just leaving!"
 I also remembered something I really "got" while sitting at the foot of a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park, "FOCUS ON THE DESIRED OUTCOME, INSTEAD OF THE PROBLEM." I think I'll print that statement out and hang it on my wall.

Blessings and Grace,

Melody
The amazing ocean at Kona, Hawaii.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Days 13 of the 28 Day Soul Coaching Program


Day 13: "My life is blessed and I am so grateful." -- from the book Soul Coaching by Denise Linn

Today's excercise was about developing an attitude of gratitude and I have so many things I am grateful for. Imstead of listing all of them, I thought I would post some pictures of some of the things I have been gratedul for in my life. These pictures are in no particular order or time.
My Parents
My trip to Hawaii last summer when I became an Angel Therapy Practitioner and met so many amazing people.




Meeting Denise Linn at the Tampa I CAN DO IT Conference, November 2009. It's where I signed up for the Soul Coaching course that has changed my life. Yay!



These two tough guys are my grandchildren Harlon and James. The Meade Boys.


My granddaughter Ellie Mae (don't you just love that name?) and her sweet mom, Sarah.



One of my favorite spots to canoe off the Yellow River in Florida.



Some of my landscaping handiwork. I love my job.



My sister Linda who came to visit me this spring and nurtured me through a busy time.



My talented and loving sisters, Rosemary and Linda


My daughter Jessica, Sarah (my DIL) and son Aaron enjoying a 3D movie.



My little house here in Northwest Florida.