Counting My Blessings Penny After Penny ~The Six Stages of Gratitude

When I was a little girl, my brother received a plastic toy as a gift, while I received a penny.

I felt hurt and disappointed, and then guilty for feeling this way. My favorite babysitter took me aside and shared a life lesson that is still with me today.

She first tried to convince me that my penny wasn’t just any old penny, but a new shiny one. I looked down at the palm of my hand, but all I could see was a penny.

She asked me to close my eyes as she took my tiny six-year-old hand, penny and all, and placed it over my heart. The warmth of her palm completely covered my hand, and she reminded me of the love and fondness that we mutually shared. Through the wall of my hurt, of not feeling special enough, not loved enough, tears formed and my heart softened just enough to let her in—to receive her gift.

She gently whispered that the true worth of any gift is always in the eye of the beholder. Nothing has more value than we choose to give it.

A penny could be worth a million dollars, and a million-dollar toy worth no more than a penny. It all depends on how we choose to perceive it. The intention behind every gift we receive is worth gold and the gold in our intention is behind every gift we offer. Read more

Free Falling: The Limbo of Not Knowing

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/03/free-falling-the-limbo-of-not-knowing/

 

The last tiny bit of perceivable stable ground fades into the horizon as I loosen my grip.

Suddenly my line of tether disappears. Night falls quickly. The wind dances with the waves as they crash relentlessly against the flimsy edges of my only sense of security.

I am carried farther and farther out into uncharted waters…

I look back, in hopes of securing my need for something tangible—something to grasp on to. There is no life jacket aboard. I am entirely alone. I have severed all ties with Point A, the past 28 years of my married life, to embark on an expedition toward Point B, an unfamiliar destination.

I feel my heart breathing a mixture of fear and loss. Tears of black mascara run down my cheeks. My mind slips into the foreground and takes control. I stoically wipe my tears away. There must be a map hidden somewhere on this tiny vessel!

My heart sinks in hopelessness. In all the busyness of planning my departure, I carelessly forgot that one important item—the map that would offer me a ‘’what’s next?’’ plan and guide me safely to another shore.

Without a map or game-plan at hand, I find myself here—with myself, right here, right now—with nowhere to go, just thrown about in the waters of raw uncomfortableness. It is raw because there is no knowing of what, where, when or how. 

I am dead center in no man’s land, and it is a seriously vulnerable place to be.

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Trailblazing. You Can’t Get Lost If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going In The First Place.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/03/trailblazing-we-cant-get-lost-if-we-dont-know-where-were-going-in-the-first-place/

I was just 17 ½ and freshly out of high school. I was impressionable especially when encountering trailblazers, the weird ones the ones that thought and dressed out of the box. In my junior high school creative writing class, I met a girl, not just any girl but one that had a huge personality for her tiny 4’10” frame. She spoke four languages, was born in Panama and had traveled extensively. She was smart and curious and a free spirit. Her character was forged in cement, and she was sure of what she knew, sure of what she wanted and she had no qualms going after it. I wanted to have a life like hers, different from the norm. I drank her words like the finest of wines and aspired to be like her, courageous, worldly and totally autonomous.

One day during lunch break, she casually mentioned that she was heading to Europe for the summer holidays. I drilled her on how, where, with whom, etc. ”Alone.” was her only reply to my questions that fired at her like a machine gun. That was all I needed to hear. I went home that night and thought about it. Why not me? What is stopping me from doing the same thing? I had a small savings stashed under my mattress and could sell my only two valuable possessions, my racing bike and my Rossignols.

Between creative writing class and biology, I stopped by the local travel agent and secured an open-ended ticket to London. Why London? No other reason other than it seemed like a good place to begin. And so it was. With my backpack on my shoulder, my passport and $1000 in my pocket, I boarded the plane to London. I never gave it much thought how my adventure would transpire or what I would do once I arrived there. At the time, it didn’t seem to matter.

Despite the 17 hours in the air, the flight seemed short. I couldn’t sleep. I was too excited and spent hours walking up and down the aisles making new friends. I befriended an Englishman and learned that the Sterling Pound was the currency of the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom was the same as England. I think that he was a bit concerned about my naivety, so he took me under his wing and drove me to a decent neighborhood to find a cheap guesthouse which became my home for months.

I quickly learned the importance of looking right before crossing the street, keeping my eyes lowered while riding the tube and most helpful of all, understanding the enigmatic word ”the loo”. Day one, I enthusiastically I spanned the city far beyond its borders. At least, that’s what it felt like.

Dusk came quickly. I stopped in my tracks and looked around. At that moment, reality kicked in. I was alone, entirely alone in this faraway foreign country. I knew no one; no one knew me. Nothing looked familiar. I was lost. How did I let this happen? Fear embraced me and stole my senses. I looked up at the immensity of the sky and mapped the brilliance of the stars above. I heard a whisper from inside, ”It is O.K. You aren’t lost because you never knew where you were going in the first place. So allow yourself to wander, weave in and out of the cobblestone streets, get lost again and again and discover the novelty of the present moment.” This advice is some of the best that I have ever received.

Having a plan, following a map, gives direction and provides us with a stable framework that paves our path. If the moment is ripe, we can try out our sense of faith, spread our wings and strengthen our muscle of surrendering to what presents itself without attachment to the outcome. There is something inexcusably exciting about adventuring into newness and not knowing what you will find, or what will find you. It can be scary, and it can be exhilaratingly awesome.

One serendipitous moment after another became my reality for 14 months. I learned a lot about other cultures, people and above all myself. This expedition was one of personal growth and, like Pema Chödrön wisely points out, embarking on a journey, whether it be to Europe or some other faraway destination or one of personal transformation, is always thrilling until that precise moment when we realize that we are utterly alone.

This moment is when we lean in a bit more and remember, whether you are a pathfinder on the road of growth or trailblazing through South East Asia, you are never alone, and, you can’t get lost if you don’t know where you are in the first place. So my advice- if you have the time and a sense of adventure, get lost and enjoy the art of trailblazing without a map. You might just end up finding yourself.

Orange est la Couleur de la Transformation

ORANGE, LA COULEUR DE LA TRANSFORMATION

Jessica Magnin

images-1 Près de 3 semaines se sont écoulées comme de l’encre. Goutte à goutte, la vie laotienne me bénit avec la rencontre de moi-même dans toute ma fragilité.

Luang Prabang, cette petite péninsule prise en sandwich entre deux grands fleuves est un endroit hors du commun. Comme une pièce d’un puzzle qui a retrouvé son unique place, le lien qui me relie avec Luang Prabang n’est pas un hasard. Dès la première fois, j’étais heurtée en plein cœur sans comprendre ce qui m’arrivait. Au début, c’était comme un murmure au fond de moi. Il me titillait sans répit.  Il me réveillait en pleine nuit en me suppliant de me mettre à nu, de me lâcher, de grandir. C’était viscéral, fort, hors de tout raisonnement et de tout contrôle. L’envie de transformation était sous-jacente à toute mon existence.

Sans le savoir, la vie a rendu la relation entre moi, la petite laotienne comme on m’appelle là-bas, et ce minuscule point sur terre, aussi dure que l’acier. Même après autant de séjours, 9 au total, et l’instauration d’une certaine habitude, je reste toujours loin de toute zone de confort, que ce soit par rapport aux traditions, à la culture, à la langue et au rythme de vie.  Je m’en imbibe intentionnellement, la tête sous l’eau,  afin de me trouver , vulnérable, dénuée de mes points de repère et de toute sécurité.

L’invitation délibérée de la vulnérabilité est le feu qui allume le processus de la transformation en moi. N’ayant plus de vrais points de repère, chaque instant se vit intentionnellement dans la pleine conscience et s’allie avec l’observation de Soi. Tout semble être au ralenti, comme si les moments passaient sous l’eau. Cette lenteur me permet de voir mes insécurités, mes peurs et mes attachements comme des bulles d’oxygène qui remontent à la surface, là, complètement exposés, fragiles et crus.  Encore là, intentionnellement, je les accueille, les reçois comme mes meilleurs amis, échange avec eux aussi longtemps qu’ils souhaitent rester. Petit à petit, ils perdent leur force et leur présence ; et comme l’impermanence est inévitable, je les observe disparaître, petites bulles éclatant à la chaleur du soleil.

Peu importe le nombre de jours, mes escales à Luang Prabang sont une parenthèse dans l’ici et le maintenant toujours marquées par une énorme renaissance et libération, une transformation évolutive, parfois douloureuse comme une naissance, parfois tout en douceur. La transformation est toujours au menu du jour de tous les cafés laotiens.

Le changement est inévitable. On le sait, mais il nous est difficile de l’accepter ainsi. La vie est en perpétuelle mutation et l’envie de rendre les moments solides vient de notre grande peur de perdre ce que nous avons. Nous nous y agrippons fermement en nous persuadant que grâce à notre force et à notre contrôle tout restera tel quel pour toujours. Hélas, en dépit de notre volonté féroce, la vie nous démontre que malgré notre détermination tout se transforme à chaque Nano seconde. Tant que l’on ignore cette réalité fondamentale de la vie, on se sent largué et déconnecté.

Alors nagez dans le courant du changement, adaptez-vous à l’instant même, soyez intensivement présents et ouverts à recevoir les fruits de chaque rencontre afin d’inviter le changement et donc la transformation en vous-même.

Matthieu Ricard, le confident du Dalai Lama, a écrit que ‘’nous sommes sur terre pour grandir et pour aimer.’’ Pour vraiment aimer, il faut accueillir la vulnérabilité dans toutes ses formes, dans tous ses états. Elle est la graine du grandissement car sans elle on n’est pas totalement réceptif et prêt à lâcher hier pour accueillir aujourd’hui dans sa totalité.

Comme tout a un début, un milieu et une fin pour se renouveler encore et encore d’une manière incognito, ce texte aussi touche à sa fin et je vous laisse avec cette réflexion :

‘’Le changement est inévitable, le grandissement de soi est intentionnel. Et si l’on grandissait inévitablement en apportant des changements intentionnels ?’’