What I'm Writing About
© Copyright 2011-2016
All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Bobbi Jean Ewing.
reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3
As this Saturn’s day draws to a close, I’d like to tell you about my father, whose name was Robert Eugene, and for whom I was named. While my father, my dad, no longer lives on Earth, he lives on in the Heavens.
My dad passed on, returned to Source, nearly 6 years ago on March 11, 2010. He died as a relatively young man at the age of 65.
I did not have a close relationship with my dad. Instead, it was one of hardship and strife. My dad was a very angry and volatile man. He hurt me, my mom, and my siblings much and often with his hands and his words. I could share many, awful stories of the horrific things my dad did. It’s enough for me to tell you that my dad was a rotten man.
I have a very different relationship with my dad now that he’s gone. I even consider my dad a spirit ally and summon him when I need protection or support. I am still cultivating my relationship with my dad, my Heavenly Father and maybe someday he’ll be an ally that serves me in other ways too. For now, I am grateful for his protection and the guidance he provides to me as I awaken my relationship to Spirit, to the Divine Intelligence that is in all things, the Intelligence with which we can participate as we co-create and manifest our reality.
My relationship with my Heavenly Father began on Sunday, January 5, 2014 on my hike down into Haleakala, the big crater of Maui. My dad loved geology, loved rocks. He studied earth sciences in college and had several prized rock collections. As I trekked down into the crater in the first hours of the day I found myself thinking of my dad and wishing he could see and experience what I was seeing. I felt sad that because my dad worked so hard to support my family, declined, and died an early death that he did not get to see and experience the places that I have been so privileged to see.
Up there in the crater, I felt so close to the Heavens. I called out to my dad and asked him to join me and experience through me and with me the beauty and wonder of Haleakala. For those miles I trekked down into the crater I had a “conversation with my father.” Other than expressing my sadness that he didn’t get to see what I was now seeing and expressing my gratitude for the sacrifices he made, I don’t really remember the content of our conversation. The content really isn’t that important. What’s most important is that I invited my dad, now my Heavenly Father, into my life and he’s been with me ever since.
I mentioned that my dad has been providing me with guidance as I awaken to the Divine Intelligence that is in all things and this notion that we co-create and manifest our reality. For me, life is a bit like living in “The Da Vinci Code.” I receive messages and attempt to unravel the mysteries. Many messages take a bit of decoding – that’s especially true to when I began to more fully awaken to the Divine Intelligence.
In the spring of 2014, during my participation in a shamanic women’s circle, we were doing work with feathers and I found myself wanting feathers of my own. I said out loud something to the effect of, “I’m ready for feathers.” Within days, a Northern Flicker starting gifting me feathers, 3 the first day. In all, I was gifted 11 flicker feathers. I tried to make meaning of it and unravel the mystery. I arrived here: my brother’s death date is 3/11.
Not long after I was gifted the 11 flicker feathers, I was gifted 10 goose feathers. What did this mean? 21 feathers. 11, a number of mirroring. The mirror of 21 is 12. 12/21. My dad’s birth date. I unraveled this mystery with a friend. As I uttered out loud the connection to my dad’s birth date and that I believed my dad was communicating with me, we both felt goose bumps and a shiver around us. Kinda spooky, but I think that was my dad’s spirit we felt around us. (writer’s aside: magic moment, synchronicity…I hear honking geese as I write this).
December 21, Winter Solstice, my dad’s birthday. Last year I shared in “Light Born OF and TO dark” my revelation that the Winter Solstice is my conception date. I was conceived in the darkest days of winter, when the sun stands still in a pregnant pause, and was born into the bright shining light of the September sun when the sun was high in the sky. Whoa. Revolutionary! A powerful story of my inception as a being of light.
To celebrate the Winter Solstice, to celebrate my dad’s birth date, and most importantly to honor the light within and welcome back the light without, I offered a “second annual” Winter Solstice ceremony. Eleven (11) of us sat in all candle light and shared stories about our relationship to this date and quotes about Light. I led us through a guided meditation and facilitated a partner meditation, where I invited those present to mirror back each other’s Light. The ceremony was rich, meaningful, and spiritual.
To this ceremony I brought 3 sacred objects: my ❤ rock from Haleakala, a matching pair of duck feathers from the Klamath River, and my owl friend from Peru. After the ceremony ended, I packed up rather hurriedly but made sure my sacred objects were safe. When I got home and unpacked, my feathers were nowhere to be found. I checked every pocket again and again. No feathers. I started to feel sadness fill my being. I had collected those feathers from my stomping grounds and also my dad’s stomping grounds on a recent trip “home” while out kayaking with the pastor from my home church and sharing with him about my “relationship” with my deceased father. I knew there was a risk taking the feathers. The feathers and the ❤ rock both had a direct connection to my dad and I chosen to take them to the ceremony.
Sadness continued to fill my being. I had to go back out and see if I could find them. Somehow I knew what the outcome would before I started to retrace my steps: I found just one feather on the ground, a small miracle on this windy day. I found the one feather on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop, Revolutions. Though filled with both grief and gratitude in the moment, I took note of the spot where I had lost and then found my feather. Revolutions. Curious. What was my dad telling me now? I have my guesses.
Losing one of these two feathers revealed to me that unprocessed grief still lives within me. These feathers were not given to me by my dad in his life time. I had collected them. I had attached meaning to them; for me the matching feathers were like the number 11. I had become attached to them and what they represented. The depth of my grief over the loss of one of the feathers speaks less about my attachment to an object and more so to my relationship to my father – the relationship that it was not while he lived and what it is now that he lives on in the Heavens. And this relationship is twofold: my Heavenly Father is now my spirit ally AND on a deep, psychological level, I am invoking my inner father and healing that part of myself.
When I was planning my visit to Switzerland, I had visions of cloudless blue skies, wildflowers carpeting the valleys and hillsides, vistas of the Swiss Alps.
I traveled to Switzerland after spending just over one week in warm, sunny, and dry Provence, France, which to me was divine. I enjoyed a picturesque train ride showcasing the many peaks and green valleys and hillsides of Switzerland. The closer I got to my destination, the darker and more ominous the skies above.
When I stepped off the cable car in Gimmelwald, the air was warm, but it was overcast and the mountain peaks were obscured. The friendly Barnaby from England checked me in to Pension Gimmelwald and I remember asking him, “is the weather usually like this?” He said, “yesterday, we were melting up here.” I prodded, “do the clouds usually clear?” I don’t remember his answer or if he had one, but that evening it did clear up, which was very exciting to me.
When I went to bed, the skies were clear. A waxing and almost full moon rose just over the peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Sometime around 5:00 am I woke to the sounds of booming thunder and pouring rain. I slept a few more hours, hoping it might clear.
The weather was ok after breakfast – cloudy, but not ominous; decent enough visibility so I could see across the valley and make out some rugged formations below the cloud ceiling. I enjoyed a cloudy, yet thankfully rain free, hike from Gimmelwald to Chilchbalm, a dramatic glacier bowl. The clouds started to stir and at one point, the clouds lifted just enough so I could momentarily begin to make out the peaks above the glacier bowl. As I headed back, it started to sprinkle. During lunch the rain set in. I stayed inside the rest of the day.
As expected, according to the weather forecast from the friendly pension staff, things were still gloomy the next day. My trusty travel guide writer, Rick Steves, recommended if it were a cloudy day, to head down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley to take in all the waterfalls. I did just that. I call this valley the Yosemite of Switzerland. It is a giant U-shaped valley carved out by a massive glacier during one of the ice ages and a multitude of waterfalls cascade down the valley walls.
Clouds hugged the valley walls, but the scenery was still very majestic. I was aware that I felt disappointment that the scenery was obscured by the clouds, but I paused and mindfully chose to stay present, to allow my experience to be moment by moment and let got of expectation.
I felt a sense of gratitude that I had a mindfulness practice that enabled me to be with and embrace what is, to more deeply appreciate the beauty of each moment. As I made my way down the valley, the clouds grew darker and started to express themselves: rain.
Later that afternoon the weather shifted: the clouds broke, the vast blue sky emerged, and the radiant sun dried things out. Of all my moments in Switzerland, this may have been my hallelujah moment. I was sitting under cover of the eave of the town church when the sun broke through the clouds.
I bolted out into the light. As I took in and was warmed by the bright light filling the valley, I could practically hear angels singing “hallelujah” from the heavens.
In a moment of inspiration, I took a cable car up to the west rim of the valley for a gentle hike back to Gimmelwald. Though still somewhat obstructed by clouds, the views of the mountain peaks across the valley were exciting and energizing. But…it didn’t last. About 20 minutes into my 1.5 hour hike, the clouds closed up and drew in and it started to rain.
As I walked with my head down, eyes focused on the path that I strained to make out in the dense clouds, a voice from my past played in my mind, “I’ll never be good enough for you.” I knew this voice. I remembered when these words were spoken to me. This was one of the many incredibly hurtful things said to me by “my person” at the end of our relationship, when he finally, after 10 years, decided to “get real.” Something about being in less than perfect conditions, on a vacation dreamt up from hope and expectation, brought this memory from the deep recesses of my mind.
After I got back to Seattle and my mind cleared and I transitioned out of travel mode, I was able to take a closer look at this moment and dig deeper into the issue that surfaced: perfection. I was triggered by a less than perfect, less than ideal situation which brought up a memory of a time where the words spoken made me feel that anything that is less than perfect is not good enough for me. I am sensitive to this notion of “perfection” because I have high standards and strive for excellence and have a tendency to influence outcomes instead of letting things emerge.
Even though I had enough presence of mind and spirit to recognize I was in less than ideal weather conditions and instead chose to practice mindfulness, I clearly was not immune to the “imperfections” of wet, gloomy weather and cloudy skies when my heart desired sweeping vistas and hallelujah moments.
I think everyone can identify things in their lives that they want to be perfect: a new purchase, a dinner prepared for special guests, our hair for a special occasion, the family holiday photo, a party that we host, the restaurant chosen for our birthday dinner, the colors we are painting in our new house, the weather on a special day, our vacation. Where does our need, or more specifically our propensity, for perfection come from? Some of it is rooted in a desire for excellence. This can be a positive thing. It keeps us striving to do better, to improve, to grow. Some of our desire for perfection is fed by the idealism created through culture and media. This can set us up for disappoint.
Much of our compulsion toward perfection comes from a place of inflexibility within us. We have a tendency to hold on to an ideal or expectation and have an inability or a difficult time letting go and adapting to unforeseen or unimagined circumstances, to unexpected outcomes. We have a difficult time accepting and feeling contented with things just as they are and this leaves us feeling let down, disappointed, disgruntled. We see what is not perfect. We do not feel happy or content with what is.
I pondered this: Why is it that some people see more perfection and beauty and some people see more imperfection or flaws? I believe that the lens through which we see and experience the world is shaped by our life experiences, by how light or heavy those experiences. If we had loving, nurturing parents and a childhood of stability, we probably see our experiences through a brighter lens. If we had a tumultuous childhood filled with strife and instability, we probably see the world through a darker lens. Our experiences shape our pattern of thinking. I believe this “not good enough” mentality is rooted in hard wired negative thoughts patterns which develop during difficult times or unhealthy situations or relationships. Without the ability or mindfulness it takes to begin to rewire our thought patterns (our neural pathways) and let more light and beauty filter in through our lens, we get stuck seeing imperfection where in fact so much perfection exists.
As one who has lived through heavy and painful experiences and had a very tumultuous childhood, I know how hard it can be to let the light come in, to see the vast beauty and perfection that surrounds us. How do we do it? We cultivate. We get out our gardening tools and plant seeds. We plant gratitude, peace, love. We nurture new growth. We begin to see the blossoms of contentment, happiness, joy emerge in our lives and fill our being. We become less rigid and more flexible. We soften. We begin to feel and see the love and beauty that exist all around us and in us all the time.
What is perhaps most illuminating about my hallelujah moment, when I stepped out from under the eave of the church in Switzerland, is that the Universe gave me this very important message: come out of the darkness and into the light; let the light fill your heart and warm your spirit, allow yourself to feel love, allow yourself to be love and you will see clearly and without obstruction, the infinite beauty that surrounds you in all its perfection.
Fog. Light mist. Partly sunny. Partly cloudy. Sprinkles. Grey skies. Showers. Sun. Strong winds. Dark clouds. Rain. Lightning flash, boom of thunder. Heavy downpour. Sun break through the clouds and rain, a rainbow graces the sky. Clear blue sky. Bright sunshine.
Weather events. Storms. Human emotions. Emotional storms.
We each exist in an emotional climate all our own. Each one of us is an island unto ourselves, an island with its own climate and its own weather patterns. Our emotional climate is affected by our history, our stories, and by stressors and triggers. Our triggers are connected to our histories, the blue prints of our lives. Triggers emerge from soreness, pain, emotional wounds, and emotional traumas. We experience our emotions as storms – this is our emotional weather.
If we see a heart up close, much like we see a canyon wall or the face of a mountain when we are out in the wilderness, we will see how the heart has been formed by years of emotional weathering. If we have a discerning and knowing eye, we will recognize the topography of the heart – grief, trauma, loss, devastation, abandonment, shattered sense of self, and so on. If we remain present, we will begin to discover in this emotional landscape of the heart, the traces and remnants of past storms. Here I do not speak of emotional storms, the shifting clouds or the wind and rain, but of much bigger storms, catastrophic storms, storms that have the power to completely alter an emotional landscape.
I have experienced a storm of this magnitude in my own life. For me, this storm was the “ka-boom,” the end of the biggest and most important relationship in my life. The explosion I would liken to a tornado – sudden and instantly devastating, completely uprooting and leveling everything in its path. The days and weeks and months after the explosion I would liken to a hurricane – forceful winds, heavy, unrelenting rain, crashing and pounding waves. Though my shattered heart has healed around the ravaged landscape and new life has come to exist out of the devastation, many dynamic topographical features were created by the catastrophic storm. I continue to discover the altered and dynamic topography of my “new” heart.
Catastrophic, life altering storms are rare. Emotional storms, however, are part of our every day, week to week existence. We experience emotional storms as a result of stressors and triggers. Stressors are the crappy, negative, or unexpected. Not enough sleep. A fight with a loved one. The jerky boss. An injury. An unexpected bill in the mail. Stressors usually do not grow out of our emotional climate. Triggers on the other hand, do.
Triggers are the remnants of our history, our story. Triggers emerge from our emotional landscape, the dynamic topography of our hearts. We see or hear or smell something that brings to the surface a memory of an event or a feeling from the past, happy or sad, and we are triggered. Something is said in conversation that relates to a sensitive or a sore place in our story, a wound that is still raw, and we are triggered. We encounter someone from our past, or we see someone that reminds us of a person from our past, and we are triggered. We feel a storm about to come – the winds start to blow in our hearts, the clouds come together, and precipitation forms in our eyes. We cry.
Sometimes there is nothing external that triggers us and the trigger is internal. We are triggered by the stories playing in our minds, not a fact based story of our sad and tragic history, though this certainly could be a trigger, but the stories, the imagined scenarios and alternate realities that are constantly forming in our minds. These stories are not truth, but an alternate and possibly sad version of the truth that grow out of fear or worry or anxiety or a deep wound or an unresolved hurt or feeling stuck in emotional limbo . . . these stories often take on a darker mood and are clouded and colored by the emotional climate in our hearts. The stories of our mind have the power to trigger us and when they do, an emotional weather event ensues – tears, crying, sobbing, anger, what have you. The intensity of the storm depends on how tightly the story takes hold of you, by how much you allow yourself to be in and feel the colored and skewed reality.
I discovered that our stories can trigger us internally one day while I was brushing my teeth. Memories started to play in my mind. My memories started to take twists and turns into an alternate reality; imagined conversations and assumptions played out in my head. I started to feel sad, tears started to form in my eyes, I was a little weepy. I had a moment of awareness, a mindful moment, and I paused. To myself I was like, “Wow. That was interesting. I just created my own sadness. I just created my own little storm.”
I became aware that these “self-created” storms grew right out of the emotional climate in my heart. I started to pay attention to my tendency to create my own storms. I saw that when I allowed the stories of my mind to carry me away, I could very easily end up in a sad place and experience a little shower, a brief moment of cloudiness and precipitation. Other times I saw that I experienced a longer period of rain. Sometimes I even experienced a heavy rain from a much darker cloud. I had one of these intense storms just the other night. I was triggered both externally and internally. Up and out came the well of sadness from my heart, a sadness that drenched the surrounding fields.
So what do I do with this awareness and insight into my own emotional weather? I pay attention. I observe. I investigate. I start to look at the patterning of my thoughts and the stories that grow of them. I look at the weather patterns that ensue. Which stories produce the most sadness? Why do I, again and again, end up in the sad place and experience a storm? What pattern of thinking continues to take me to that place? Is there something about the story that allows me to access a feeling? What purpose does this feeing serve? Is this feeling enabling me to move forward or is it keeping me stuck in the sad place?
I am aware that these stories travel along the neural pathways of my mind, the hard wiring of my brain. These neural pathways have deep, deep roots and it takes a lot of effort – persistent, mindful, and intentional effort – to change one’s root system, to form new neural pathways.
Poet Jane Hirshfield made a statement in the documentary, The Buddha. She said, “a tree lives on its roots; if you change the root, you change the tree.”
At the time, her words spoke to me of our ability to transform our lives and become a new tree, to live a life very different from the one lived before. Today her words reveal to me that in order to change the patterning of one’s mind, it is vital that one must change the roots. So if you find me sitting under a tree in Seattle or anywhere my travels may take me, I might very well be attempting to absorb the essence of that tree to enable a new root system to grow in my mind and heart and to create a shift in my emotional landscape.
Clouds shift. Clouds change. Clouds grow together and expand. Clouds release. Clouds let go. Clouds dissipate. Clouds blow away.
Power is a fickle thing. One day following a period of feeling crappy, a period of emotional turbulence, you feel different, good again, you feel in control of your thoughts and emotions again and you say, “I’ve got my power back!” You are on fire, on your own high, heart soaring, mind buzzing with aliveness. On another day, just as soon as you’ve got your power back, you lose it again and find yourself saying, “I lost my power again! and I want it back!”
Trying to grab hold of our power can feel like trying to catch a fruit fly that is taunting us with its persistent presence. You reach out a steady hand, you focus your eyes and energy on the fly’s movements, and in a quick jerk of your entire arm you close your fingers tight. You’ve caught it, or so you think. You slowly open your fingers and peak in to see if the lifeless fly is in your hand. You’ve caught the fly, but it’s not lifeless. As soon as you open your hand, the fly wriggles back to life and escapes. And so the dance to catch the fly begins again. In your own life you are dancing another dance, the dance to try to capture your power and hold onto it before it escapes. This time, when you get your power back, you’re going to hold onto it long enough to unlock its secrets and figure out what it takes to not let it escape or slip through your fingers again.
This notion of power came to me through a very wise friend who told me, “don’t let _____ or your dream of _____ take all your power.” I was having a couple of especially cruddy weeks. I was experiencing grief, new and old, new grief and old grief all tangled together, new feeding old, old feeding new. My heart was aching and I felt its weight, laden with sadness and pain. More than once I crumpled up on the floor while listening to sobering, soulful music and let my pain pour out of me. My misery was outweighing everything else in my life, weighing me down from the very top on my heart. I couldn’t snap out of it, I couldn’t change the way I was feeling or get perspective. The only way to get to the other side of this pain was to just let my emotions run their course, to feel what I was feeling as long as I needed to feel it.
I made it through the emotional turbulence. The day came when the weight finally lifted from my heart. I had found just enough clarity where I needed it. I felt in charge of my emotions again and thereby myself. I was finally able to reign in my runaway thoughts and give them direction, to focus and channel my energies, to put my mind back on me. I was present again. My mind was fully engaged in listening to and absorbing the wisdoms and insights from my yoga teachers. I was completely focused on the efforts and experience of each yoga pose. I could sit quietly during the seated meditation portion of my yoga practice. The activity of my mind and inner turmoil of my heart had quieted down and with it came a mental clarity and sense of calm, of peace. It felt good to feel good again. I was feeling exhilarated and on fire. I knew I had my power back. I was determined to keep my power, to not jeopardize my power again, but after a time I lost my balance and with it my power. My emotions took over again and I lost control of me.
It’s interesting to consider power in the context of control. What I am learning is that the personal power struggle is indeed a battle for control over one’s emotions, of oneself, the place where two hemispheres of oneself duke it out: one half of oneself feels and succumbs to emotion, is taken hold of by the emotion; the other half of oneself observes the emotion, holds and contains the emotion instead of letting the emotion spin out of control, instead of letting the emotion control and dominate one’s feelings and one’s life. The battle becomes a tug of war between heart and mind. We battle to try to maintain balance, a sense of equilibrium, the balance between powers, when opposing forces are at rest. When the heart and mind are aligned, in harmony with each other (maybe even in unison?!), balance arises.
Have I unlocked the secret to my power? Have I figured out how to hold onto it, to not let it slip through my fingers? The secret, I am discovering, is tied to emotional turbulence and it is more a truth than a secret. When I am not experiencing emotional turbulence, I experience an inner quiet, an inner peace, mental and emotional clarity; I feel more balanced and alas, feel more in control of myself and my life. However, a life free of emotional turbulence does not exist.
Turbulence enters our lives in unwelcoming ways via many avenues: unexpected events, painful events, unpleasant circumstances, unbalanced relationships, unhealthy relationships, moments or periods of vulnerability, unyielding or unsuccessful efforts, difficult or stressful situations, drama, conflict, commotion, crises, our own or the crises of those who are important in our lives, the actions and behavior of those with whom we interact. Most of these things are outside of our control, are outside of ourselves – external – yet the reality is that these things affect our internal landscape, our equilibrium. Turbulence creates a climate that weakens our defenses and as a result, we experience inner turmoil. Turbulence jeopardizes and puts our power at risk.
We must learn to navigate the emotional turbulence, to find our way around it if we can, and when we can’t, we must journey right through it and hold on and breathe deep until we get to the other side. We must learn to navigate the emotional battlefield and decide when to engage in the struggle and when to just let things be. I often come back to these wise words shared by one of my yoga teachers: “we must let go of that which does not serve us.”
Each of us has skills, strategies, and resources acquired and cultivated through life’s hardships and challenges or periods of personal growth that we draw on, with intention or instinctually, to navigate life’s turbulence. A universal strategy for navigating turbulence and the emotional battlefield is to ground ourselves, to find the quiet within, to come back to our center, the place of inner strength, wisdom, truth, and intuition, to be present. Along with our breathe, I like to think of our centers, our cores, as our sustaining resource. The one secret or truth I learned through my recent power struggle: sustained power requires mental clarity and emotional presence and it helps if you’re not in the turbulence.