Sunday, April 13, 2014

Problems



You run
and in your running you feel a temporary assurance that all this fear
will stay locked in some distant room
whose door you never have to open.

You fight
and in your fighting you feel that if you can just be louder,
stronger, more long-standing in your aggression that the
possibility of something or someone defeating you can be delayed.

You stay
and in your staying you uncover an internal creative power that has waited in anticipation for your recognition.

You are reminded that fear will travel with you regardless how far you run.
You are reminded that in your resistance and fighting, you only enlarge the force you choose to battle.
In your staying you bravely let go the crippling pattern of fearful avoidance and blaming others.
You dissolve the belief that anything outside may harm or diminish you.

And now you are clear;
Fear is a choice.
There is no us and them.
There is no problem. There is only our perception of the world waiting to be changed.

~ David Ault

Thursday, February 27, 2014

All My Life


"When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world."

~ Mary Oliver

Living large, behaving boldly – those are more than just motivational phrases reserved for some cheesy poster on a wall.  They are the words imprinted on your soul.
And wherever you go, there your soul is. 

Wherever you go there are the constant reminders of what boldness looks like - displayed through the actions of people, depicted  in stories we read, embedded in the lyrics of music and lived out by cultures and people who have measurably greater excuses to quit than we ever will.
When examined at its most raw and base rationale, the reason we don’t dance at the edge of our comfort zone is because we choose not to.

Indulge me a bit, but I am on this awareness kick about death.  Death is an invention of humans.  It speaks of finality.  Yet we are infinite – our forms change but the soul lives, grows, expands onward.  This body maybe a temporary shell,  yet housed within us is constant consciousness – the delicious, infinite playground that will respond to the very thoughts we endear ourselves to.

Why not endear yourself to amazement as the poet Mary Oliver writes?   

Why not endear yourself to the wonders that await when you simply choose peace over your drama, choose to recognize the good all around you rather than bemoaning what you have lost and what seems unreachable?  All it requires is for you to shed your allegiance to playing small.  All it requires is to love yourself in all your apparent imperfections rather than be imprisoned by them.  You are creating the environment by which your soul gets to manifest. 

Open up. Open up. Open up.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled



We were memorably told, "Let not your heart be troubled..."


Every day on this fascinating journey of earthly life, we encounter situations that can trigger emotions of hurt, sorrow, and a host of fearful thoughts.

The above loving invitation from the master teacher Jesus is a strong reminder for us to not let our hearts or our focus of attention remain troubled by outer conditions - to not linger in these triggers. The reasoning is that our evolving  personal consciousness is paralleled with our belief in God as omniscient.
  
To be aware of the allness of Intelligence is to experience the allness of Intelligence.  To be aware of the allness of Love is to experience the allness of Love.
The acceptance of the Divine's omniscience will understandably dissolve any lingering pain-filled emotion and bring us back to an open-hearted state.

Why is this so vital and important?

The heart must be 'untroubled' in order for us to experience the kingdom that is God's great pleasure to give us.
When the mirrored reflection of our inner state becomes one with the unlimited divine nature of the Creator, the gift of the kingdom can at last be received.

Simply stated, we must lighten up to receive our good.  Lightening up is the perfect indicator that the world and all its fluctuating madness, conflict and disruption has no power over our internal knowing of what is true - the omniscient nature of God.  No-thing or no-one can diminish that.

  
What triggers/fears can you release?

Know that by being willing to do so, your kingdom of good may finally materialize and become real for you.
 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Breathe In



Breathe in the particles of power that swarm and move in and around you.

Everything your heart desires can be breathed in through an acceptance of one who has no problem receiving.
What you crave is as readily available as air.
Would you deny air?
 
Why, then, deny the treasures that already have your name chiseled upon them?
 
Breath in the relief that comes through revisiting the porch of plenty.
 
Breath in your wholeness - the complete synchronicity that links one internal system to another.
 
Breathe in your yearning's long awaited relief, your creativity's acceptance and honoring.
 
Breathe in your eternal freedom that handholds you to an infallible awareness of worth.
 
Breathe in intimacy that beats equally in the heart of another and fulfils the connection that all deserve.
 
Breathe in aliveness - the thrill of an ever expanding arena of adventure and  growth that greets you at every willing step and every playful consent.
 
Breathe in your power - the power that swells in your veins and launches from your conscious mind the command for good towards an attentive army of willing soldiers of manifestation.
 
All this is possible right now in the next breath.
 
Breathe and be breathed  - in God, as God, through God.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You Can't Hurry The Harvest

Private victories precede public victories. You can't invert that process any more than you can harvest a crop before you plant it. ~ Stephen Covey


I am reminded of the phrase, "You can't hurry the harvest."
In order to even have a harvest, one must plant the seed(s) to begin with. One must nurture, cultivate and tend to the care of the soil. The harvest comes in its right and proper time. 

When we each advance to that place where we know beyond all doubt that our prayers are answered - that our good is there, then absolutely nothing interferes with the harvest. The already-having- received consciousness delivers every time. That developed internal knowing is the private victory Covey speaks of.  Countless people have inspired ideas but do we all possess the devotion to nurture that idea wholeheartedly, surpassing all doubt and seeming negative setback?

In today's lightning fast, instantaneous society, we tend to forget about the beauty that is happening in the gestation period, the miraculous in-the-meantime where the desires we plant in mind are formulating, then arriving exactly when their suppose to. We become impatient, blaming, fearful, comparative and in so doing, pour kerosene on our soil and toss in a lighted match.

We destroy the very thing we say we wanted.

Let us go back to basics. Plant your seed. Honor its process. Act sane. Be kind to yourself and others. Be a dutiful and gracious mental farmer. Your harvest will come.

How can we achieve peace in the present moment and stop trying to hurry (control) our prayers arrival?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August Adventures - Kilimanjaro (The Descent)

"What goes up must come down."

You can thank Isaac Newton for those pearls of gravitational wisdom.

But, I'm saving all my thanks for second-in-command John.

That uphill terrain of scree described in the fifth day of ascending, well, it's equally maddening a surface to descend on.

Gravity grabs us and makes our strides swift, using an entirely different set of muscles and putting my knees through joint boot camp.  The slippery scree makes balancing an issue and within the first twenty minutes, I have fallen on my butt, toppled like a drunkard and rolled.

John, identical to Harold's gesture upon ascension, grabs my hand.  We are off - accelerating like tandem skiers, using a heel-toe rapid fire walk that requires equal parts balance and mobility.  It's rough on both knees and shins but I say a quick prayer of gratitude for my trainer Philippe back in Atlanta who made those mobility exercises our number one priority the past year.

In less than an hour we are back on solid terrain.

The entire descent to the bottom of the national park takes a day and a half.   We sleep at Millenium Camp after having traveled down to Barafu, gathering remains from the night before and continuing on for another two hours.  In total, that final summit day plus our beginning descent was around 13 hours.

Millenium Camp is beautiful, or is it the relief within me that makes it so?

It doesn't take much for any of us to collapse and sleep that evening.

The next morning, our last delivery of ginger tea arrives and tastes extra satisfying.

Drinking it, I stare off into the distance as the bright sun casts its rays off Mount Meru.  The porters gather around us and we are serenaded by a song - a long held tradition on the final day of the Kilimanjaro adventure.

A few more hours and we will have returned to the tropical rainforest area and then, finally, the final registration booth and state park exit where we receive our official certificate for mastering the illustrious mountain.

My mind wanders to a scripture from the book of Malachi in the Biblical text that contains the words prove me now.  The word prove was, I've come to believe, the great impetus for this entire adventure.  How can I prove philosophical principles that I profess to believe in - that I've built my whole life around, unless I do so through action?

I continue the descent, pondering - feeling the unparalleled satisfaction and quiet, internal joy that is birthed from such an action.  I now have a greater depth of experience for having applied the prove me now energy as an intention.  In those last hours, I feel I am physically capable of more than I can imagine, expect or hope for.  All of us are.

Now, to maintain that sense of invincibility in the everyday world.

~~~~~~~~~~

(Here are more pictures provided by fellow climber Mark Wyrick, and the video of the closing song from our wonderful porter team.  Harold joins in the singing at the end, wearing the blue jersey with the number 8 on the back)







Saturday, August 24, 2013

August Adventures - Kilimanjaro, The Climb (Summit Day)

 

There are days filled with unprecedented occurrences or so, at least, we feel – days aligning themselves with one revelatory moment linked to another – the birth of our child, our marriage, the passing of a dear loved one, moving day, the official good-bye. We shroud these days with deep significance for they are the days when our paths become altered and everything seemingly changes.

Today was such a day.

Tea and biscuits were brought to our tent around 2:45 AM.  I hear the word biscuit and my American mind cannot help but register a visual of flour dough balls baked in the oven. These ‘biscuits’ were packaged cookies offered with the now familiar ginger brew.

Not much fuel, it seems, for summit day but at this hour I’m not complaining.  The few bites and sips feel laden with effort.

We’ve all attempted to sleep fully dressed sans the outer down jacket.  A few forced final gulps of tea and we are called to begin.  Headlamps are in place.  I look up and can see a faint trace of bobbing lights high above.  From where I stand, the illuminated heads of earlier departers look like glow worms floating in the sky.

“How far up are they?” I question, and feel a wave of nausea and dread swirling in my gut.

Mark gives me a packet of disposable hand warmers, the kind that look like large tea bags.  Once crunched and gripped in your hand, the inner gel inside the packets activates heat for hours.  I place one within each palm inside my gloves.

We start – summit day has arrived.

The night before, Harold and John had both come to our dinner tent to go over the specifics of our final hours of climbing.  Terrain, delirium, fatigue were all topics of discussion and Harold always brought the subject back to his 100% success rate on the Machame.  Other trails, he says, have been hit or miss because of a too swift rise in altitude but the Machame is methodically laid out to help the climber succeed.  He would then look at each of us with this stoic, solemn stare as if to say, “You have no choice but to make it.”

A half an hour into it and it already feels like trouble.  Scaling rock in the dark, my heart begins to pound, my body revolts and I begin breathing with large, audible, breath deprived gasps that echo throughout the seeming innaccessible darkness.

“You are breathing wrong!” chides Harold, as he tries to emphasize a through-the-nose-out-the-mouth technique to calm me down.  It feels too difficult.  My body is craving more oxygen than my nostrils seem to deliver.  I try and regulate per instruction but every ascended step feels like a punch to the gut.

I reason with myself.  “The first hour of every morning is always the hardest.  You’ll settle in.  You’ll settle in.”

 Breathe. I am settling in. I am settling in. Breath.

Am. Settling. In.

The self-talk helps and even though it all feels momentarily daunting I manage to keep moving carefully up the rocky path. Several more hours up and I imagine we have now become the glow worms for those left at the camp far below.

We stop frequently.  Since I am trailing behind by about 5 minutes, the duration of my rests are shortened.  Harold and second-in-command John play switchback with the four of us, leading then trailing the rear in order to keep a close watch on each of us. 

I can’t feel some of the fingers on my left hand and I squeeze and bend them vigorously to prompt any circulation.

By the first glimpse of dawn, I have gone from trailing the others by five minutes to being unable to see them at all on the slopes ahead.  John has taken charge of the others and Harold hangs by me, weaving from my right to my left.  My lungs are burning and air bubbles from sipping water through an insulated straw make my stomach swell and ache in the thin morning air.

I stop and stand staring at the ground.

“You are not walking!” Harold firmly states. “You must keep walking.”

Another hour passes.  I am able to comprehend that I am audibly mumbling – not formulating words, but mumbling sounds, syllables that seem to mysteriously help my process.

Another hour passes.  I have stopped, perhaps twice, collapsing on a rock for stability and a desperate rest.  I close my eyes and instantly feel the sting of Harold’s hand across my face.  He has slapped me.  Grabbing my shoulders he speaks firmly with determined eye contact, “You can not close your eyes!  You must keep them open!  You must stay awake!”

He is right.  My internal mechanisms want to give up.  The lack of oxygen is making me drowsy.  To give in would be fatal.

I stand to begin again when Harold starts yelling at me in Swahili.

“What?  I’m standing!” I think or did I respond aloud?  The truth is I can’t remember, and as I turn towards him, he’s pointing and yelling at the sky ahead.

In less than one second, I turn, look up to where he is pointing, and see what could easily be a 4 ton sized boulder flying directly at us.


It resembles something straight out of a Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner cartoon.

They say time stands still.  How accurate a description, for within what could only have been a matter of two seconds, there was assessment followed by decision making, all taking place within my brain.  I see the air born boulder.  I look to my right and see a boulder of equal size along the side of the path. I dive behind it. Harold dives left.

The boulder flies directly over our heads.

There is no adrenaline rush.  As I think back, I ask myself, “How can that be?”  I can only rationalize that my delirious and exhaustive state must have led my neurotransmitters to take a holiday.

Crawling back up, using my walking poles to stand erect, the only commentary I am able to muster is a flat, monotone and barely audible, “Wow, avalanche.”

“Not good,” replies Harold, indicating the boulder, as we turn to see where it may have made a new resting place.  It is divine providence that sunlight was reigning rather then low hanging fog, otherwise we may have never seen it coming.

I later learned that once every other year or so, an avalanche occurs from the eroding, shifting soil, often resulting in fatalities.

“Keep moving,” Harold says, these short, cryptic sentences becoming his current style of communicating.

We soon enter a terrain of scree – loose, sandy gravel offering the simulation of walking up a mountain of sand. With every three steps, I slide back one, making our headway up to the summit feel completely in vain.

This is my breaking point.  I practice an internal apology – offering it to all those in my world who may experience disappointment for my having failed to summit.

“I can’t do it,” I feebly whisper to Harold.  I feel awash with shame.

“Yes, you can,” he replies, taking my pack and beginning to push me in the small of my back towards the crest of the scree.   It’s a remarkably supportive gesture but it proves too awkward for both of us in navigating the quick-sand like terrain.  Harold gives up, moves to the front and grabs my gloved hand.

His hand is bare and he intertwines his fingers with mine. He starts pulling me up.

“We just need to make it to Stella Point at the top of this crest.  It’s the next to the last summit point. You will at least get a certificate.  There you can rest.”

Astonishingly, the little boy within me perks up over the fact that I might still earn something, anything after all of this.

I stare at his hand grabbing mine and I am beyond humbled as he pulls me relentlessly up.

I have completely surrendered. 

The revelatory moment has arrived and our hands become an unshakeable visual and heart-altering symbol.  Suddenly, his hand represents the hand of every person, spirit, energy that has ever existed – the ceaseless, supportive lifeline that was and is always there when ever any experience prompts feelings of helplessness or giving up.  It is the hand of the Universe – a direct lifeline dragging, pulling, lifting me to a greater degree of sufficiency. It is, in truth, the hand of God.

I stare back at our grip and for a brief time, forget the physical struggle.

Perhaps it was a half hour, I can’t accurately assess, but Harold continues pulling, then pulling more, bringing me up the merciless terrain.

We both stumble up those final steps where we are met by blasts of harsh, frigid winds.

There was a marker indicating Stella Point.  To the side is a cave-like overhang where I make my way and collapse, taking shelter from the wind.

I had resigned within me that this was good enough.  It wasn’t Uhuru Peak – the very top summit point, but it was close. 

“Get up.  We must continue.”

“But you said, I could.......”

“You can’t stop here.  You must finish.”

“Harold, I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.  You are almost there.  The hardest part is over.  Less than an hour. Come.”

And he stretches his hand again, lifting me up.

I realize that even though he is most likely lying about the ease, the end has to be near.  Reserves I thought were long used up, leak out into my bloodstream with inexplicable renewal.  Gleaming glacier walls line the horizon and raw, rising emotion makes its way out of me.  This is the final path way to Uhuru Peak.

Others are making their way down, passing me and offering encouragement.

“You’re almost there.  Congratulations.”

And not long after, off in the distant, I can see the well-worn monument sign. 

The other three in my group are there, finishing their photo ops with the allotted maximum of twenty minutes allowed at that elevation without supplemental oxygen.

They had only been about twenty minutes ahead all along.  They, too, had each struggled significantly.

We wearily hug and high-five as they make their way back to Stella then further down to camp.

I look over at Harold.  It is just us, as it is perfectly designed to be – standing at the highest point on the continent of Africa – standing on top of the world’s highest free standing mountain.  Not as tall as Everest – but pretty damn tall.

“I could not have done this without you,” I say to him as he smiles broadly.

“It’s my job.”

“I know, but you don’t understand.  I would have never made it here had it not been for you.”

“It’s my job,” he again says cryptic like.
 
“Yes, indeed, it is your job,” I whisper thankfully.

And I wonder if this thing called life – if all that it really is, is a series of hand-holding episodes, a pulling of one another up out of the seemingly impossible to the experience of the possible.

I stand by the sign, victory fist in the air, as Harold takes my photo.