Grab a cuppa, get comfy - and let's talk about living as a Square-Peg in a round-hole world.
Consider this your grace space, where we connect around what's right with you, not what's wrong with you!.
I'm ready to jump in!
Well, it's a bit cold to jump into Lake Luxembourg (pictured above), plus you're not actually allowed to swim there, so I probably wouldn't jump in even if the temps were higher, but I'm ready to jump
into some consistent online socializing.
And look what I found to help me jump -> TWO super cool Instagram-centric gatherings:
Starting April 1st there's Susannah Conway's April LOVE photo challenge.
During the ass-freezing Winter (just now passing), when I was seeing the same four walls seemingly ALL THE TIME, I grew weary of attempting to find fresh things to photograph ("That wall? Again??"); I am so looking forward to having prompts that help me focus/find things to photograph and share on Instagram - and super excited about checking out other people's photos.
There are also a whole bunch of folks connected with this gathering who'll visit my email box (yours too, if you sign up) through the month of April with self-love stories and inspiration - YES!
Then there's Elle Luna & The Great Discontent's 100 Day Project - which is described as: "...a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making."
Starting April 6th I'm going to play with watercolors for 100 days. I've always been drawn to watercolors, yet it's rare for me (three/four times in the past 10 years) to get my set out and experiment. That is about to change! P.S. I'm on the hunt for watercolor tutorials for newbies, so if you know of any please share in the comments!
Spring is shaping up as FUN!
Want to join me? The water's warm (metaphorically speaking) and these gatherings are no cost, plus (imho) I think that participating in them is guaranteed to establish some new online friendships (cool, right?).
Want to hear (and/or read) stories that bring you awareness, allowing, acceptance and appreciation (i.e. celebration!) - of yourSELF! As you are. Now!
Yeah? Good! Then check out Square-Peg Celebration: Stories of Acceptance and Grace.
There's a gorgeous 47-page pdf including the essays, Slightly-British Daughter's gorgeous photography, and inspiring quotes - plus a recording of each essay! (see: hear and/or read!)
What are you waiting for? Go on over and listen (there's a free mp3 sample!).
I'm not a fan of Winter.
Last year we had broken water pipes, our electric went out during a couple storms (uh oh, water in the basement and no sump pump), and our oil burner suffered a shit load of problems (the repair guy was out so much he began to seem like one of the family).
Winter makes me nervous. There's less light here in Winter, too - which just adds to my seasonal angst/grouchiness.
In an effort to open myself up a bit (you know how, when you're IN something unpleasant, you can curl up and close down somewhat? I've been doing that - sigh) - and also to increase my connection (I feel guilty about not being here on the blog for such a long time -- and I so miss talking with you!), I started doing something I'm calling what's right.
On February 6th I shared this on Facebook:
Consider: I've whined and growled at oil burner problems a number of times here on FB, and could probably have told you the number of days the heater was acting up (when it was), but today - with ass-freezing temperatures outside, and the heater, down the hall from me, humming along doing its job - I realized that I can't tell you how long the heater's been running smoothly.
And I may not have mentioned that the heater problems earlier this year led me to an incredibly solid, caring, and super-service oriented oil burner repair company.
I want to bring that seeking and paying attention to what's right thing into ALL of my life!
After posting that I started to document (daily) what's right in my life. NOT as an effort to drown out, or ignore, what's wrong or pissy - just to widen my perspective - see more than just what was annoying/angsting/scaring/depressing me.
p.s. the purple flowers in the picture above remind me of the Albert Camus quote: "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." YES!
Fir needles crunched beneath my feet, and the faintest whiff of their sharp, sweet aroma wafted through the summer air. My feet felt solid and good, coming down one after another along this narrow trail. My breathing deepened as the trail began to climb, I glanced up at the screech of a birdcall.
For those few seconds I felt connected, present to the wilderness surrounding me. Then, immediately my mind floated off, racing into the past. The same old whining stories began to reverberate in my brain.
What am I doing with my life? Should I move? Where? How can I possibly to do it without any money? When I get back we’re going to hit the same old walls, but we won’t really argue we’ll just reach for the wine. And then we’ll feel better. And then I’ll feel worse. There’s no opportunities for me in that town. But where can I go. How can I possibly make it on my own? Why aren’t I more proactive in building my business? Why haven’t I done more yet? Why aren’t I there yet? What’s wrong with me?
The circular train of thought was familiar, not in a comfortable way, more like a frustrating way. But still, there’s a measure of comfort in familiarity.
I’d circle and circle, knowing something had to change, but feeling totally blocked on how I could make it happen. In the usual pattern my mind would then flit away and light on something new – maybe a friend’s problem, or a party I’d be attending that weekend. And I’d run away from the pain.
Today something different happened.
As I wound around a bend in the path, waxy rhododendron leaves brushing my arms, a voice spoke up so loudly I nearly wheeled around to see if another hiker had come up behind me.
“If you’re going to make a change the time is now. The city you will visit tomorrow is where you’re meant to go.”
I’d spent the night at one of my favorite retreats nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Since I was making the 8-hour drive to Oregon to attend a conference I’d decided to spend the 4th of July here at one of my favorite spots on the planet.
“Well, I don’t know,” I told the voice. “I can check it out, but it seems like a long shot. I hardly know anybody here in Oregon. And how would I make money?”
In my previous escape fantasies I’d imagined perhaps a temporary move to a closer city where I’d be offered a well-paying and satisfying job.
However, despite trolling Craig’s List and telling a few friends of my interest, the golden opportunity had not yet materialized.
“You can sit around a wait for life to happen to you,” the Voice responded. “And another 10 years might go by in a fog of gin & tonics. NOW is the time. If you wait it will get harder to leave, not easier. One of you might get very sick. Something could come up that will hold you there.”
“But… I can’t just take off right away! I have to figure things out. I don’t have enough savings.”
“You have that cash. Use that. The next step will show up.”
The $2500 or so that I’d saved up did not seem like it could carry me through a move to a new city. But, wait – maybe I had a little more than that?
“But, what about my daughter? She just moved back to our town. I can’t just leave now,” I continued to object.
“What sort of way to live do you want to model for her? Do you want to show her how to ‘settle’ and play it safe and comfortable? Or do you want her to see you stepping up to your dreams, living in courage?”
One by one, this Voice disintegrated each objection that popped up in my mind. My steps faltered and I found myself on my knees on that trail, tears pouring from my eyes.
Although I consider myself intuitive, I’d NEVER received such clear and directed guidance!
I fumbled in my pack and pulled out my tiny moleskin notebook. As the tears continued to roll down my cheeks, I began to scrawl the insights that were coming. I knew I needed some sort of physical evidence to take back, to hold my feet to the fire. It would be so easy to slip back into the familiar and oddly comfortable sense of discontent and that ‘someday…’
That same bird called out once again and I watched it circle the brilliant blue sky. My feet found their way down the trail once more. I scrambled over a downed tree limb, running my fingers over the damp bark, breathing in the musty, earthy scent.
It felt like home.
A few weeks later I piled a carefully selected assortment of belongings into my car and drove away from the life I’d once loved, but now knew must end. Many more tears had fallen as I said my goodbyes, and gave away possessions. For the first time in my life I walked in a direction that did not please others.
My heart pounded as I pulled onto the highway and headed north. I had no idea what lay ahead.
What I did know was that when I’d finally softened, ceased the objections and accepted my guidance, things had fallen into place with an ease that astonished me. I did have a bit more than $2500 stashed away I discovered. A friend offered me her couch until I could find a room. Others reached out, and I realized I knew more people than I thought in Oregon.
That day I embarked on a Hero’s Journey, and now, two years in, I’m still riding the waves of that journey.
But not once have I regretted listening to the powerful Voice of guidance that spoke to me in the woods that day. My heart blew open right then, and this journey has led me to teachers, to new friends, to amazing opportunities.
And, most importantly, surrendering to my Guidance has allowed me to continue to experience an inner knowing that I could never have guessed was possible in my previous life.
I now have no doubt that we all are supported! All we have to do is listen.
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More Support Stories here!
Slightly-British Daughter* has done it again! She's created a calendar full of wonderful quotes and photos to encourage us through the coming year!!
For the past couple years, as I've shared the Square-Peg calendar, I've mentioned my hope/desire that we go into the new year "with all the love and self-acceptance, radical self-care, and celebration our hearts can hold (and then maybe a teeny bit more!)."
I keep repeating those words because I believe that, when we are aware of, accept, appreciate, and love ALL of ourSelf (all: the pretty bits and the pain in the ass bits, even the mean and ugly bits), we have deeper, truer love and compassion for others (a different, more open-hearted love and compassion than we have before we learn to love and accept ourSelf. <- and this is so important today, with racism and hate rampant!!
Here are the words I ended that hope/desire with in previous years:
"What a difference we could make out in the world (not to mention our own room, house, neighborhood) if we stepped into acceptance and appreciation of our Selves."
So, this year I'm asking: How about we make 2015 the year we do this? Are YOU in?
YOUR copy of the Square-Peg People 2015 calendar is waiting for you - just click on the link to download.
Here are a couple screenshots of the calendar:
Wishing you a grace-filled, heart-open, Self-appreciating/accepting/LOVE-ing, Square-Peg shiny 2015!
You know that feeling you get when, in the dark of winter, you ride by a home with a light in the window? It's a kind of tender, sweet/sad, feeling - and, for me, an antidote to the groundedlessness and hectic horror that the holidaze bring.
Which brings me to the story below, it's the kind of thing I keep bringing myself back to - for grounding, for a sense of reason and purpose, and - for love! Let's sit here and have some tea (spiked?) - we can contemplate love (and grounding, and purpose...) together. Here we go:
Ya'll Fall Down
I've told this story before, but this year it means something different to me. The neighbor in the story doesn't live next door anymore - we've got new neighbors.
Neighbor got divorced and he and his family moved to different houses. And I am reminded (again) how things are always changing - sometimes falling down, sometimes being put right (and often - too often, for my comfort - not knowing which is which).
I used to get great delight from seeing my neighbor's holiday lawn ornaments fall over. Wait, let me explain:
Mr. Neighbor had a little family of flat, white, wooden reindeer and a 3-D, 3 ft. tall plastic Santa. Each year he'd take the decorations out of storage and lean the reindeer against the house for a few days. They'd be behind a brick half-wall whose purpose (during the rest of the year) was blocking Neighbor's trash cans from view.
Santa would also be behind the half-wall, visible only from my driveway and one of the windows of my house. For whatever reason, Santa was always placed nose facing into the corner - and what with the hunch of his shoulders and the angle he was tilted he always looked to be taking a wiz.
Within a few days Mr. Neighbor would begin to assemble the family of reindeer. Each had a flat, wooden cross-piece that fitted into the the bottom of the flat reindeer making them able to stand. Almost immediately after Neighbor got all the reindeer pieced together and placed on somewhat flat ground - positioned near each other and Santa - we'd have a storm. A dashing, windy rumpus of a storm. Every year.
And at least one reindeer would bite the dust (or snow), but Neighbor quickly got the reindeer upright again and all was well.
Wind and winter storms are normal around here in December, though - so the reindeer were in constant peril. Rudolph and/or a couple buddies fell over frequently. It got so that each time I would head out to the driveway I'd look over and take a body count. And it started to seem funny to me. Very funny! Every trip to the car meant laughing til my sides ached.
I like to think of myself as a semi-kind person, so I wondered what was the matter with me. Why did I find it so amusing that Neighbor struggled with resuscitating reindeer? The answer hit me surprisingly quickly (the way the wind hit the reindeer - though I didn't fall down) - it had more to do with Neighbor fixing the reindeer than it did with them falling over.
I had the aha moment one day after a wind storm - when Neighbor didn't come out and set the reindeer right. I didn't know if he was sick, gone for the day or what - but seeing the bodies made my heart sad. When he finally fixed them I started laughing again.
My laughter wasn't mean-spirited, it was more like JOY. I knew that Neighbor did the whole reindeer thing (putting them up and taking care of them) for his little son. I laughed because I knew how much he loved his little boy and that he'd keep standing those reindeer up.
And, having had the (metaphoric) wind knock my own (metaphoric) reindeer on their (metaphoric) asses way more than once, I was thrilled by the chance to witness Neighbor's perseverance - his willingness to stand those reindeer up again and again.
I laughed because it's beautiful (and JOYful) to watch any of us keep trying - keep standing things up even when we know life will probably knock them down again. Whether we do it for our kids, ourselves, for Life itself, for The Beloved - it's always for LOVE.
And that's something to smile, giggle, even guffaw about! (And besides, things falling over make good sight gags!!)
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Pssst, If you've had the (metaphoric) wind knock you on your (metaphoric) ass recently -
or are feeling glum and bah humbugish this holiday season -
please come on over and read some of the heart-opening stories being shared in the Strength from Within holiday encouragement series.
Some great writers share solace and encouragement for the holiday season (doesn't matter what holiday you do - or don't celebrate) - you're not alone!
And here's gentle-hearted Teresa Deak, continuing our holiday encouragement series with a story about her unique way of accessing support, love, and wisdom (and a little encouragement to give it a try yourself). Enjoy!
Butterflies to the Rescue
Photo credit: Teresa Deak
It was a scary moment.
John far ahead, out of sight.
My tires too skinny, my bike too new, too unfamiliar.
Traffic to my left too fast, too close.
A shoulder too narrow, too filled with dirt and grit.
A hill to my right no protection to stop a tumble.
As I pictured John having to double back only to find my broken body on the side of the road, I decided
it would not and could not be that way.
It came to me in a flash an inspiration.
Suddenly they were riding with me.
A dancing tapestry of every colour.
I could feel them all around me.
I felt stronger.
I could breathe!
I felt protected, their evermoving wings a forcefield of love and beauty.
I pedalled faster.
With this newfound butterfly confidence, my ride suddenly became a pleasure.
I was impervious to my previous fear.
Smiling, I arrived at our meeting point. John was surprised to see me so soon.
I whispered to him about how scared I had been and the boost the butterflies gave me.
It was a turning point.
Since the day those butterflies arrived, they have never left me, yet they leave me all the time.
Always willing to offer love, ease, healing they flow through me out to you and the world.
They are not only mine you can claim them, too.
Breathe deeply. Once. Twice. Three times.
Clear your mind to make space for the butterflies.
Open your heart. Allow them to show themselves.
Notice how they feel, what they look like to you. Maybe you don’t see them at all, and that’s okay, too.
Listen for their wisdom. Feel for their gifts.
Whenever you feel the world around you is too much, invite those butterflies to dance their tapestry around you.
Let their colours and light fill you up so you, too, can travel safer, more confidently, freer.
Try it as a visualization. Just one butterfly. How does it feel when it arrives?
Do you notice how big it is? What color? What do you do when you first “see” your butterfly?
Do you smile?
Imagine that butterfly brings its friends. They float around you. Gently. Their colours a beautiful swirling inspiration. You are held in their beauty and love. You are protected and lifted by their gifts.
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More Support Stories here!
I haven't shared book lists in a long time - and haven't done many reviews in the past couple/few years either…
so you might not know that I love books, but I do! Books were my best friends when I was a kid - and my best guides when I was older.
If YOU're a book lover too, how 'bout we exchange the names of holiday and/or seasonal favorites?
I'm always looking for new books to cherish, and like to hear about all kinds of books. Books from other traditions, from all genres - picture, poem or word books - alllllll kinds.
I'm going to point to three earlier posts that name the holiday favorites around here and I'm hoping you'll share YOUr favorites in the comments below (please)!
First up, funny books: The Holiday Book List.
Then books for kids: Favorite Holiday Books for Kids.
And lastly, the more spiritually leaning books: Oh Hell, it's the Holy Holly Holiday Reading List.
Your turn ~
Our holiday encouragement series continues (this is our 5th year!) with a soul-tending, heart-opening, deep (and incredibly practical) video from Lisa Hofmann!
Set aside some time to savor this beautiful offering - you'll be touched, I have no doubt!
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by Marney Makridakis
I hopped, skipped, and jumped through Marney Makridakis's new book, Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life. I did!
When I went back and read through it again, with an eye to what I wanted to tell you, I was amused me to read this exhortation in the Introduction:
"If you generally don't like to read a book cover to cover, you can relax. This is, above all, an idea book, here to help you access more play and productivity in your life, and to help you do it in your own way. You don't need to read this book in sequential order and should feel free to -- you guessed it -- hop, skip, and jump around the book."
Ha! I did, I did!! And you might too - even if your normal reading style is more conservative (mine is).
Hop, Skip, Jump feels like a visit to a magician's workshop - where all the doors in your mind are thrown open to possibilities. So many possibilities! And Magician Marney (who says, in the Introduction, that she has "an imagination broader than Disneyland") doesn't seem to judge when we're fearful or lagging behind - she just offers more (and more!) ways to join in.
Marney describes Hop, Skip, and Jump (the book and the concept) thusly:
"Hop, Skip, and Jump represent three distinct energies that can work together harmoniously. This book is about playfully activating the energies of all three phases so that your manifestation process becomes a lot more robust and, especially, a lot more fun."
Here's a brief description of the phases:
In an earlier post Hey, I'm an Irish Setter I mentioned that I'm heavily into Hop - though there's a lot of Skip in me as well. Jump I lack - but the book has loads of ways to playfully integrate the styles that we're not so strong in into our lives - because all three are important!
Which one are YOU? You can take a quiz (in the book or online) to determine what Marney calls your "core inclination".
The book describes/explains the 3 phases in different ways - from a table that "lists the goals, advantages, and potential risks of each phase" to a very interesting section (The Language of the Body) discussing "ways each phase contributes to physical development", to "Sample Scenarios", introducing us to a hopper, a skipper, and a jumper (somewhat day-in-the-life style).
Each chapter starts off with a FUN FACT and a question/prompt connected to the FUN FACT. Here's one:
"The original Kenner Easy-Bake Oven was heated by two one-hundred-watt lightbulbs, a design inspired by the roasted chestnuts sold by street vendors in New York City." And the question/prompt:
"How will you know when your idea or project is fully baked? Can you test it for doneness, like sticking a toothpick in a cake?"
There are also a number of Top Ten lists included. Some are a little on the schmaltzy side (not snarky like the David Letterman lists), but more than one had me literally laughing out loud. Real loud.
My favorite is "TOP TEN SIGNS YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK AND GROUND YOUR ENERGY", which includes:
10. You're trying to send a text message using the TV remote control. (Ha!), 9. Adding an appointment to your calendar reminds you of playing Tetris. (Ha! Ha!), 8. You find yourself ordering a sandwich from the bank teller. (Ha! Haaaaa!). You'll have to check out the book to see the other 7; I don't want to spoil all the fun!
Each chapter ends with an AcroWhim and a Haikoodle. Ok, ok - I have to say it: these are my least favorite parts of the book. I rarely enjoy haikus, and acronyms (with the exception of SNAFU) kinda make my stomach hurt. They feel forced - they are forced.
But I'll forgive the author (grin) because you can feel the sense of fun (play!) she had coming up with them. I'm not sharing AcroWhims or Haikoodles though; gotta hunt down a book for those (and who knows, YOU might love them!).
In between the extras described above there are ideas, suggestions, exercises and prompts to help us strengthen (and enjoy!) each of the three phases (hop, skip, and jump - in case they slipped your mind).
There's my personal favorite, Design Your Plan-it-arium (really rocking the star stuff prompts!) in the Hop section (plus 24 more); What Butterflies Know About Manifesting in the Skip section (plus, you know - 24 more); and Turn Your Doubt into a Dare in the Jump section (ahem - more, too).
This is a fun book, and feels personal - like you're sitting down with Marney. I'm going to keep Hop, Skip, Jump handy to jumpstart creativity and play often! You can't get enough play (it's vital)!!
Consider picking up a copy of Hop, Skip, Jump using this link - you'll be helping to support Square-Peg People without paying a penny more (we're Amazon Affiliates). Thanks!
Disclaimer: I am reviewing this book as part of the Hop, Skip, Jump Blog Celebration. I received a copy of the book from the publisher and am listed on Artella Land’s roster of 75 featured blogs. My opinions are my own.
Hey, have your read our Square-Peg Interview of Marney Makridakis? Check it out!
Our holiday encouragement series, Support Stories, starts its 5th year with a contribution from the founder of KaleidoSoul, Anne Marie Bennett. Anne Marie shares a restful audio with us, which she describes like this:
This place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you.
wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
against the earth and the sky,
the beloved has bowed there-
the beloved has bowed there knowing
you were coming…
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More Support Stories here!