The scriptures lighten

15 October 2016




Today, I felt beyond defeated.  I had an anxiety attack last night that left me so tired.

I know that I am subconsciously feeling the weight of upcoming labor, and it's compressing out of me through mental hyperactivity.  Anxiety is so painful and difficult.

Early this morning, I visited my friend Ashley to support her in her new business; she is so alive and full of light!

When I returned home, Ryan was still resting.  So I sat down in my reading chair and opened the scriptures to the second half of Mosiah.  I read and read and read.  I engrossed myself in the stories.  In the spirit.  In the declarations of repentance and forgiveness.  In the rising of Alma the Younger, his rebirth, the restoration of himself into a man of such honor.  In the patterns of war and pride that are continual on every page of the book.  The good never goes without pressure from the bad.  And I likened that to the course of one person.  The good and wholeness of one individual never goes without pressure and force from the bad.  I have felt the duality of good and evil inside of me lately.  I cried to Heavenly Father earlier, just like Nephi did in the Psalms of Nephi, about why I can't overcome these parts of myself that aren't all that becoming.

And the whole time I read, the spirit filled me brighter, stronger, with hope.  I so desperately need all of those things.  I thought of how the world anchors into me deeply.  Emotions, experiences.  Attachment for me is deep, and I grow weighted.  I feel like I'm always releasing.  Release.  Release.  Release.  I seek to keep myself touching all things loosely (just like I talk of here).

And after reading the scriptures, I felt the loosening.  I felt the softer touch.  The lighter insides.  The holiness that surrounds me and protects.  I NEED that.  I need all of this so badly.  I need God in my life.  I need this Spirit.  I need this unmangingly.  especially right now. 

I love these scriptures.


Upward and onward,






image source

The Little One has a Nursery!

12 October 2016

Baby Girl, we are ready for you! 
Come any time, Little Buddy.


Our Literal Family Tree


Ryan and I went on a date this weekend to go tree shopping!

My brother Trevor had just left town, after staying with us for a week and a half, doing some clean-up landscaping for us.  This 1/4 acre lot that we live on is a garden.  We have every fruit tree and bush imaginable, and it was fun throughout the year to see what perennial plants kept popping up in the many flower beds.  But over time, and with our priority on other home projects, the plants grew bigger and bigger and bigger.  As did the weeds.  Occasionally Ryan and I would head outside and have a heck of a time in the late summer dusk, ripping out weeds from the beds.  But eventually all the plants were just too much, and we lived in a little forest of shrubbery and weeds.  Our house feels pretty secluded and charming with all the trees and plants, but we decided a mass exodus of plants needed to happen, and then we would begin mostly anew, planting flowers and shrubs and fruit trees that looked a little cleaner and a little less sporadic.  So that's what Trevor came down to do for us.

One particular tree in our front yard was axed on the final day Trevor was here.  It was dropping a strange under-ripe peach, or so we suspect.  Shedding pellets that were green and sickly and fuzzy-in-the-wrong-kind-of-way.  And each time I mowed, I had to pick them all up.  We decided to find a tree that wasn't so.... messy.

So, off Ryan and I went tree shopping!

We quickly found a Dappled Willow that was grafted into a tree.  It was perfect.

I feel like trees carry such symbolism of family roots and growing a posterity, which means even more to us as we are on the eve of bringing Baby Girl into the world.  I'm so excited that Ryan and I planted our first tree together, right as we start our literal family.  Now, we will watch this tree grow and grow, extending its branches, strengthening its roots, and drawing closer to the Sun.  Just like we will watch our children do.

I'm sure we'll gather plenty of memories sitting under this tree together as a family.

Upward and onward,




I loved sitting in my reading chair and watching Ryan plant the tree.  He's so handsome!

This tree is in the perfect view from the front window.

There she is!  Our Dappled Willow.

And this is what she will become.
image source

The Spirit of God

09 October 2016



Each day, I feel anticipation towards a certain time available to me. 

Reading my Book of Mormon.

Ever since I really dedicated myself to reading The Book of Mormon a couple weeks ago as more of a feast, and less of a water drip, I have really craved its daily influence (see here).  I look forward to the time each evening when I end my day, and I go to my room to sink back into the large purple pillows on my bed, rest my legs on my white comforter, open the pages of this book, pray out my heart - any fears or disappointments or questions that have arisen that day, and then I open myself to all connections as I read.

It's so comforting for me to know I have this time every day.   No matter where my heart and head are at each day, I can bring them with me in my study and feel some sort of resolve or expansion.   

So many recent experiences with the Book of Mormon have made me rely on the wisdom of Heavenly Father, when I can see now that my reliance was drifting towards the best inspiration of human minds.  There is much in this world that can touch us in a deeper way and bring out the best essence of us.  But there is nothing that is strong enough or grand enough to replace the influence of the Gospel of Christ.  I believe the pull from that source will always be the greatest. And I've found great connection to the authors who share their thoughts about it in The Books of Mormon, finding bits of my world reflected in theirs.

I once read:  The Book of Mormon is like a little piece of all the things that are in God's heart.   A piece of His heart that we can carry around with us and take out and look at whenever we please. And the more we look into His heart, the more our hearts begin to reflect the things in His. 

I can see His reflection more in everything, and I can feel more Spirit in myself.  I know that the Holy Ghost is speaking to my mind and heart in a more attuned manner. I love this quote by Parley P. Pratt:

It - [the Holy Ghost] - quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections and adapts them by the gift of wisdom to their lawful use.  It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature.  It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity.  It develops beauty of person, form, and features.  It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feelings.  It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man.  It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves.  In short it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.

Yes.  The Spirit - this whole Gospel - makes me feel so grounded, yet so lifted.  So safe with my frailties, yet so powerful and untouchable.  So comforted in my smallest disappointments and fears, yet soaring over the smallness with a really far-reaching and joyful perspective.  It enfolds all of human experience and taps it ten times brighter.

Upward and onward,



image source

Pregnant Goddess

08 October 2016


Being pregnant is akin to being a goddess.  Women, and men, alike are so drawn to the creation of life.  Being pregnant emits a magic spell that makes common strangers come over to me to talk.  The mail man at the post office, residents in my neighborhood as I walk away, employees at my client sites.  People want to give attention to this growing little babe and know more about her.  I love it! 

Also, I don't have to hold my own cereal bowl.  That's royalty status.


Upward and onward,

Book Review | Wherever You Go, There You Are

03 October 2016

Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn

Really comprehensive take on meditation.  There are so many approaches, and Jon Kabat-Zinn really prefers stillness, empty space, being fully present and aware.  Very similar to Eckhart Tolle's philosophies.  Compare this to Creative Visualizations by Shakti Gawain who's approach to meditation has more movement - drawing energy, visualizing your power, dreams, and light.  The latter type of meditation follows my approach more, but, I still enjoyed this book.  It was very much - take what I need and leave the rest.  Some parts were really insightful and others were dull.

-----

Generosity - (I recorded this entire chapter.  Definitely a message for me.  This chapter alone will grant this book a slot in my bookshelf.  That's a hard place for a book to get :)

See if you can be in touch with a core within you which is rich beyond reckoning in all important ways.  Let that core start radiating its energy outwardly, through your entire body, and beyond.  Experiment with giving away this energy-- in little ways at first-- directing it toward yourself and toward others with no thought of gain or return.  Give more than you think you can, trusting that you are richer than you think.  Celebrate this richness.  Give as if you had inexhaustible wealth.  This is called "kingly giving."  I am not talking solely of money or material possessions, although it can be wonderfully growth-enhancing, uplifting, and truly helpful to share material abundance.  Rather, what is being suggested here is that you practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence.  Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.

Noticing the resistance to the impulse to give, the worries about the future, the feelings that you may be giving too much, or the thought that it won't be appreciated "enough," or that you will be exhausted from the effort, or that you won't get anything out of it, or that you don't have enough yourself.  Consider the possibility that none of these are actually true, but that they are just forms of inertia, constriction, and fear-based self-protections... which rub up against the world and cause us and others pain and a sense of distance, isolation, and diminishment.  Giving sands down such rough edges and helps us become more mindful of our inner wealth.  By practicing mindfulness of generosity, by giving, and by observing its effects on ourselves and others, we are transforming ourselves, purifying ourselves, discovering expanded versions of ourselves.

If I become a center of love and kindness in this moment, then in a perhaps small but hardly insignificant way, the world now has a nucleus of love and kindness it lacked the moment before.

Concentration-

[Concentration] is cultivated by attending to one thing, such as the breath, and just limiting one's focus to that.  "Onepointedness."

It is a great gift to oneself to be able periodically to cultivate [concentration] over an extended period of time.

Vision-

I always come away from [angry feelings] feeling that there is something inadequate about anger, even when I am objectively on high ground.  Its innate toxicity taints all it touches.  If its energy can be transmuted to forcefulness and wisdom, without the smoke and fire of self-absorption or self-righteousness, then its power multiplies, and so does its capacity to transform both the object of the anger and the source.  So, if you practice purposefully expanding the context of the anger right in those very moments that it is arising and peaking, knowing that there must be something larger and more fundamental that you are forgetting in the heat of the emotion, then you can touch an awareness inside yourself which is not attached to or invested in the anger-fire... In this way, it helps us cook the anger, digest the anger, so that we can use it effectively.

Dignity - (another chapter that really resonated with me, and I wrote down the whole thing).

Sitting down to meditate, our posture talks to us.  It makes its own statement.  You might say the posture itself is the meditation.  If we slump, it reflects low energy, passivity, a lack of clarity.  If we sit ramrod-straight, we are tense, making too much of an effort, trying too hard...  "Sit in a way that embodies dignity," everybody immediately adjusts their posture to sit up straighter, but not stiffen.  Faces relax, shoulders drop, head, neck, and back come into easy alignment.  The spine rises out of the pelvis with energy.  Everybody seems to instantly know that inner feeling of dignity and how to embody it.... When we take our seat in meditation and remind ourselves to sit with dignity, we are coming back to our original worthiness.

"The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is itself enlightenment.  These forms [sitting meditation] are not the means of obtaining the right state of mind.  To take this posture is itself the right state of mind."  Shunru Suzuki Roshi

Hand mudras can embody different energies.  Hands palms down on your knees - self-containment, not looking for anything more, just digesting what is.   Palms up - open to energy from above, making yourself available to higher insights, priming a willingness to resonate with energies we usually think of as elevated, divine, celestial, cosmic, universal, of a higher order and wisdom...  As you practice being more in touch with your hands in sitting meditation, see if this doesn't have on influence on the way you touch.  Opening a door.  Touching another person, with no gaining idea, just presence and caring.


Meditation in Motherhood-

You could look at each baby as a little Buddha or Zen master, your own private mindfulness teacher, parachuted into your life, whose presence and actions were guaranteed to push every button and challenge every belief and limit you had, giving you continual opportunities to see where you were attached to something and to let go of it.

If you are devoted to your own meditation practice, they will come to know it and see it, and accept it matter of factly, as part of life, a normal activity.  They may even sometimes be drawn to imitate you.  The point is, the motivation to learn meditation and to practice should for the most part originate with them.

"Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again."  -Thoreau

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

"The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them.  She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle."  -Lao-Tzu

Bhavana translates as "development through mental training."  To me, this strikes the mark; meditation really is about human development.  It is a natural extension of cutting teeth, growing an adult-sized body, working and making things happen in the world, raising a family, going into debt of one kind or another.

Another way to look at meditation is to view the process of thinking itself as a waterfall, a continual cascading of thought.  In cultivating mindfulness, we are going beyond or behind our thinking, much the way you might find a vantage point in a cave or depression in the rock behind a waterfall.  We still see and hear the water, but we are out of the torrent.

If you look up the word "spirit" in the dictionary, you will find that it comes from the Latin, spirare, meaning "to breath."  The inbreath is inspiration; the outbreath expiration.

Ready and EXCITED!




Yesterday I began packing my delivery bag.  I have been so eager and excited to go into labor and bring Charlotte out.  I packed a little outfit for Charlotte and a little snuggly blanket.  I was so happy!

Preparing for this delivery has been such a highlight for me.  Last week, I was driving through a part of Provo where I used to train for my marathons, and then where I later ran them.  I also thought about this part of town where I studied endlessly for my CPA license, and then went and took the test.  I thought of how these experiences have been sooo much like preparing for labor, and I have enjoyed it so much.  I quite like pushing myself and aiming for something that seems so impossible.  I remember with my marathons and with CPA testing, in the beginning there is just pure feelings of ammunition.  I am motivated and focused and giving everything I have to the goal.  And then, as the time gets closer and the goal is suddenly near and looming in sight, there is always a period of a couple weeks where I feel huge doubt and nervousness.  And this is usually paired with having to pull back in my training or my studies because I am just fatigued.  What was I thinking?  I can't accomplish something this big.  This is beyond my abilities.  

The same happened with preparing for this labor.  Several weeks ago, those nerves hit, and I felt shaky.  This is going to be so intense.  I don't think I can do this.  

So I pulled back in my preparations, re-centered, and now I feel ready as ever!  I love this feeling - approaching such a huge endeavor and knowing how much effort I've put into this.

Upward and onward,







image source

General Conference is Gold

02 October 2016




I love General Conference so much.  Yesterday, I was so happy to be watching that I vacuumed the whole house, cleaned the bathrooms, baked bread, made some apple snacks and fish tacos.  And Trevor is in town this week, and it's been fun to have him watching all the sessions with us.

This session, I really felt drawn to the spirit and power of the General Authorities.  This is not an easy world to lead.  They put themselves in a really vulnerable position, like Samuel the Lamanite on the wall.  They are criticized and mocked, etc.  Yet I value that they are so unwavering.  I'm sure they feel the forces against them at times, but they still have so much love and confidence.  I want to be like them so badly.  I want their fortitude.  I prayed for it this morning.

Upward and onward,