Friday, September 28, 2012

Coyote Medicine

Those of us who live in urban Southern California acknowledge that the wily coyote is growing in numbers and becoming braver. Even in city neighborhoods, the coyote roams freely in the light of day.

Living with coyote means being protective of your canine and feline companions. Some people believe that the answer is to attempt to remove coyotes from neighborhoods. But where would they be moved? We are living in their former territory and, quite frankly, coyotes are very intelligent beings who are adaptable and are content living among us!

For those of us who pay attention to nature and the balance/imbalance therein, Coyote is viewed as the trickster with many lessons to teach us. Coyote represents the two sides of every coin, every issue, every situation, and urges us to examine all the facts before we take a position or offer an opinion. Coyote is the shape-shifter and the transformer. He is here to teach us the value of living and walking in balance.

Coyote is skillful but would rather find someone else to do the work if he can. He doesn't want to overextend himself, so he finds others to help in tasks so he can drop back. Coyote uses his instincts skillfully to tune into his environment and use the resources around him, including humans living in his former territory, to make life easier. Coyotes are very clever and adapt easily to changes in their environment.

Coyote is devoted to the family unit and the male takes an active role in parenting. He is adaptable, and can make his home in any environment and make it work for him. Coyotes don't take things seriously. There is a sense of humor to their actions and you can't help but laugh if you observe them carefully.

I live in a little canyon at the beach in Southern California. This canyon connects to a wilderness reserve so coyotes are expected. Recently I was enjoying my view with a visiting friend when we spotted a family of four coyotes walking across the hillside landscape in the middle of the afternoon. This sparked a wonderful conversation between my friend and I and led us to reflect about the message Coyote was offering. That night the coyotes were exceptionally active, howling throughout the night. I must admit is was a bit eerie! 

The next morning my friend and I talked at length again about the teachings from Coyote. My friend and I went outside and discovered that one of my red gardening shoes, which I always leave on the front porch after coming in from the garden, was missing. We looked everywhere for that shoe but it had disappeared! When I saw coyote scat under a nearby fruit tree I realized how close the coyote had been during the night.

That led us to begin story-telling about what had happened to my red shoe. The final version of the story was that Coyote had been feasting on fallen fruit under the apricot tree when he smelled a much more delicious treat - the fragrance of my kitty, Bentley! He navigated his way up the garden path, over the two gates separating the garden from my cottage, and down the stairs that lead to my front door. I never let my cat go out into the yard but he has the enclosed patio to lounge in during the day while I'm home. That's where Coyote's keen sense of smell guided my patio. How disappointed he must have been to find no feline dinner after all! So, he grabbed my red shoe and trotted off with it. Better to come back from a hunting expedition with a memento of the the adventure instead of empty handed!

Coyote can help see the humor in life, to lighten up and trust our instincts. He can also teach us to be mindful of our actions and be wary of playing tricks on ourselves or others. Coyote also reminds us that the consequences of our actions affect more than just ourselves.

When we are being too serious about life, Coyote may appear to teach us to laugh at ourselves and life’s ironies. Be prepared for your sense of humor to invite you to expand your perspective.

Sometimes Coyote comes to us with a message about learning from our mistakes. This learning can mean communicating with "our pack" for better understanding and a broader perspective. Or the learning might be an individual lesson like recognizing a personal mistake, seeing its consequences and vowing not to make that same mistake twice.

If Coyote shows up in your life, look for the magic. Be grateful that Coyote has appeared to remind you that you are ready to manifest miracles if you are willing to adjust the imbalances in your life. If he warns you about a "trap" that needs attention, be mindful. Coyote is a powerful teacher who is not out to get us but to teach us about magic, freedom, joy, and
the alchemy that is available to all who seek it. 

Blessings of peace, love and light ~

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nurturing Hope

As I watch my grandchildren developing, I am reminded that we all began like this - full of hope, curious, innocent - pure potentiality. Our parents dreamed of a better life for us, wanting to provide us with the security they may not have felt as a child, a life filled with abundance and love.

But life is a complicated journey and things don't always evolve as planned. Challenges enter the picture and families are confronted with forks in the road and decisions to be made, some simple, some complex. How do we provide the foundation for our children to become good problem solvers, understanding that when they take responsibility for their actions they will feel empowered and find balance in their lives?

This simple concept is in reality complicated. Some situations that we are confronted with put us in harms way; sometimes children aren't provided a safe environment to grow. Not all children receive the unconditional love and nurturing that creates a feeling of safety and harmony. When children don't feel safe, they grow up to be fearful of life and often angry. Disharmony creates fear. Fear creates disharmony.

As adults of our world's children, all of us need to take responsibility for nurturing and loving our children into tomorrow's adults. Our planet's future depends on this. It truly takes a village to raise a child. But how do we find inspiration in the world? How do we teach peace when we have lost our ability to find harmony in our daily lives?

We can look to nature for examples of how to live in harmony. When humans come into harmony with nature they learn how to live a balanced life. Nature reflects the harmony, or disharmony, within humanity.

Children intuitively understand this. Have you ever been with a young child as he excitedly discovers a spider's perfect web securely attached between two shrubs in the yard? They are naturally in awe of the intricately woven creation. It is the balance and harmony of nature that can restore balance within and without human beings. Childhood innocence. Hope. Curiosity. Inspiration. Living in the present moment. This is the gift nature gives us and children can help us remember.

Open your heart. Embrace childlike wonder and dream a future where humans are in harmony with  the natural world. Learn from a child. Teach a child how to become a thriving, optimistic adult who loves the Earth and is inspired to live in harmony with all sentient beings. Nurture hope.

"If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in." (Rachel Carson)

Blessings of peace, love and light ~ Gretchen 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Finding Your Path of Heart

I often remind my students and clients, "Follow your path of heart." I am assuming that they have a sense of what that means but is that true? What does this phrase mean?

I've received a number of emails recently about the fear and uncertainty that is connected to heeding the inner call to follow a path that is out of the mainstream, a path of heart. This is usually about following a spiritual calling, not an academic pursuit, although there may be training involved in order to attain the necessary skills. In modern society, it is acceptable to study for a profession and receive certification for that endeavor. But what about your soul's longing? What if that is not in alignment with an academic pursuit? What then?

As I reflected on this, I remembered Carlos Castaneda's books and the teachings of Don Juan. I want to share a quote from The Teachings of Don Juan.

Don Juan said:
"Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition.

I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart?

All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere.

My benefactor’s question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart?

If it does, the path is good; if it does not, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other does not. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path.

A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it. For me there is only the traveling on paths that have a heart, or on any path that may have heart. There I travel… and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly."

May you find your path of heart and may you have the courage to follow it, no matter what others say.

Blessings of peace, love and light be upon you ~ Gretchen

Friday, May 4, 2012

Making Peace with my Mother

Sedona is a place where “magic” happens. Nature has a high vibrational frequency where the energies from multiple dimensions are accessible. Sedona opened the portal to making peace with my mother.

For years I had been seeking understanding about the soul lessons that I encountered while my parents were living. Since their passing I have been able to look deeper into what we had contracted to learn together, sharing ancestral woundings and traumas that needed to be released. I have understood for many years now that my soul agreement was to heal our lineage through forgiveness and transformation of old limiting beliefs and patterns. However I now recognize that even after my mother’s passing eight years ago, I have still not been able to see her as a positive teacher. I loved her and knew she loved me but I have always said that I learned what I did not want to become by watching my mother's journey.

The transformative vibration of Sedona showed me a new picture of my mother. As I sat in meditation about the Divine Feminine and what that looks like embodied within, I was shown an image of my mother’s soul, a snapshot of her “true” self. What I glimpsed was not the woman I knew in real life. This picture was a beautiful soul who was connected to Nature and loved exploring the world. My mother’s soul was peaceful and wished to share wisdom with others. But my mother’s life did not reflect this deep soul’s knowing, this inner wisdom, and I wondered what had happened.

As I continued reflecting and writing in a meditation garden, I heard a young man’s voice saying, “Excuse me Mam. Can you help me? I’m lost and I can’t find my way home.” He looked frantic, filled with fear, and I stood up to help him. He explained that he was from Florida, far away, and didn’t know this place. He had taken a dirt path from his hotel to the church chapel because he wanted to spend some time in prayer. He found the chapel but when he came out he was turned around and disoriented and couldn’t find his way home.

I tried to calm him down and as we walked around the grounds I asked him to look for familiar landmarks. I continued asking him questions and we finally spotted his hotel nearby. We found the path that would lead him back to his family. He was grateful and we blessed each other as we parted.

I knew that this encounter was more than what it appeared so I continued walking and reflecting. He had repeated, “I was looking for the chapel. I wanted to find the chapel. But when I came out I was lost and couldn’t find my way home.” 

As I meditated on this statement my heart opened and I realized it was a message from my mother. She had come to this lifetime with the intention of finding “the chapel,” her sacred place, but during the journey she got lost and couldn’t find her way “home.” She lived her life in fear and disappointment and never seemed to find true happiness, at least not for long. The last five years of her life were lived in confusion and sadness. She had lost her way “home.” The true story of her life’s journey had been lost and she didn’t know how to find it.

This breakthrough was significant for me because I began to see how similar my soul is to my mother’s. The difference is I have had the support and guidance along the way as I needed it to allow me to find my way. This has provided me the opportunities to shift the old family story of so many of my ancestors and to find my way "home" to my soul's purpose. During my lifetime I have encountered many beautiful teachers who guided me and heard my longing to find my soul’s true path. I am grateful for all of them, those in physical form in this lifetime and those from the Other Side.

What a gift my mother’s life has been for me and how grateful I am that she was my mother. She always loved me and always tried to support me but her own wounding prevented her from being fully present. However that was what I needed to “kick-start” my own journey. My quest has led me to reconnecting to the Divine Feminine within myself, through the lessons from my mother.

Thank you Mom! I love you!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Gift of Spring ~ Hope & Joy!

Spring brings melodious bird songs with such renewed vigor and enthusiasm! In my yard a Rufous-sided Towhee has reappeared. I had forgotten about him until I spotted his bright orange sides, white chest and black back the other day, pecking in the soil for tasty morsels. His presence brought back the feeling of hope and abundance that I experience every spring. Nature brings the visible and audible reminder that there is balance and harmony in the world and that there are repeating cycles of change and evolution. 

In the quantum world, nothing is real. There are infinite possibilities until we choose a direction and focus our intentions on an outcome. The observer changes the observed. 

"Let us remember that space is never empty. If it is filled with harmonious voices, a song arises that is strong and potent. If it is filled with conflict, the dissonance drives us away and we don't want to be there. When we pretend that it doesn't matter whether there is harmony, when we believe we don't have to 'walk our talk,' we lose far more than personal integrity. We lose the partnership of a field-rich space that can help bring order to our lives." (Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science).

Words and thoughts have the power to expand our beliefs or limit them. When we encourage our children and allow them to feel successful about themselves, they thrive and feel empowered to take risks. If a child is criticized and told they are not worthy or important, they grow up believing that in their core.

As adults we carry the blessings and the wounds of our childhood. The journey through life asks us to be brave enough to lift the lid of our beliefs and to reveal what lies in the "box." Once observed, core limiting beliefs can be released and transformed. Those old "stories" can be rewritten and a new story created, one that has a happy ending!

We have the power to change that which is not working in our lives. Sometimes this requires great courage. To thrive and participate in co-creating a more peaceful world, within and without, requires that we choose change. It means letting go of old limiting beliefs that no longer serve us. The result is transforming the limitations that we have believed hold us back into possibilities for personal empowerment and joy!

How do we begin? There are many ways for the observer to change the observed but here are a few ideas to begin the shift:

1. Gratitude. Every day, write down at least 10 things you are grateful for. If you have been fixated on an old wounding, look for the gift, the lesson learned from that experience. How did it change your life for the better?

2. Spend time in nature. Sit by a tree, walk in a park, stand with your feet at the water's edge. It really doesn't matter whether it is a community park or a wilderness area. Just spend time breathing through your heart in nature. She will help you find your center and help you experience harmony.

3. Experience joy. What do you love about life? Do you enjoy writing or painting or other creative expression? What makes you laugh? Do you find joy in watching young children play? Maybe it's watching your favorite movie with a friend or sharing your week over a delicious meal with loved ones. Is it spending time in nature, running, walking, biking? What brings you joy? Gift yourself time to enjoy life. 

4. Prayer and ritual. There are hardly any limitations to creating rituals. Set an intention for shifting a paradigm in your life and then choose an element that you love - fire, earth, water, mineral, nature. Find a setting in nature that incorporates the elements that create feelings of harmony within you. Bring an offering of flowers, tobacco, birdseed, crystals, stones - whatever natural materials have value and meaning for you. Sit quietly in meditation, breathing from your heart and bringing your senses into balance with the natural setting around you. Then begin praying in whatever way you feel comfortable, first offering your gratitude for the gifts and blessings in your life and then asking for assistance in co-creating the changes you want to manifest. 

All of us long to connect with someone who can identify with our circumstances and share in our day-to-day life. Prayer is just that - a personal experience and intimate connection with Ancestors/Source/Creator/God(dess). Healing, ritual, and community are intertwined. Woven together they bring about healing. The gifts of one person connected to the gifts within a community of people have the power to change the world. When a group of people has a clear vision, a new story can be created. 

During this hopeful time of year, allow Spring and Nature to bring you into balance, to find your own inner voice and to restore hope. Connect with others who are like-minded and experience the joy of community support. Love yourself enough to experience the gift of hope. 

Blessings of peace, love and light,