In its complication, winter has a way of simplifying life. We have had two days of school in two weeks due to snow, ice, and now power outages. I’ve created a simple morning routine of reading, yoga, writing, and language lessons, before the day begins. Since I’m up early with three cats, sleeping in is not an option.
We’ve lost power the last two days. Thankfully it came back both days by nightfall. Appreciating the simple things, like electricity, running water, and heat has reduced the complications in our lives. Waking up to power, I’m in a state of gratitude, as the temperatures are now dipping into single digits. The girls, with less school stress, are bonding together, like never before. Having a grocery store a mile away, has helped to simplify life, without an oven or a refrigerator. I didn’t need to worry about dinner this week! In the end, we managed to work together to stay safe and warm.
For now, I will learn from Nature. She asks us to examine our lives, by slowing way down to the fundamentals. What really matters? What truly needs to be done? We add so much to our lives, in order to gain an elusive feeling of worth and connection. It appears the reverse is true. It can actually be found, by simplifying life to our core needs, often found right in our own home, certainly found within our own spirit.
Susan J. McFarland
February 8, 2019
There is a photo circulating, about Michigan being closed for the day. We are in the middle of a winter weather advisory, with low temperatures and heavy snow accumulations. Living life as a snow globe has its advantages. School closed early, one daughter is at a friend’s house. I’m debating whether to drive to yoga this morning or enjoy my home practice? Getting groceries was on the “to do list," but It can wait a day or two, if needed. Snow days insist we change plans.
Outside my window is a world blanketed in white. Serene, quiet, and calm, falls the snow, gently, one flake at a time. Flakes don’t hurry. Each one is unique, beautiful, and alone, on its own. It floats happily to the ground, meeting up with friends, upon arrival. Snow days remind us to slow down. They give us space for living life; with friends, family, or a cat on the lap. One option I could choose, is to finish reading my book. Choices to be made, each moment, until the next, guide us to remember what matters most.
As the hustle retreats, we can truly enjoy each precious instant, beautiful and unique, like the snowflake. As moments accumulate together, over a lifetime, they create a scene much like a winter wonderland, within a snow globe. It is our responsibility to notice and appreciate the beauty of each unique one.
Susan J. McFarland
January 28, 2019
The first month of the year, provides us with a fresh start and a new beginning. After reflecting on the past year, I’m ready to welcome the new year with its new experiences. After returning from vacation post holidays, I not only unpacked, but reorganized, cleaned, and cleared a large part of my home. I’m not done yet. I probably will never be all done, but fresh starts need clean and clear spaces, in order to have room for the growth they require.
The starting point matters. The environment from which to begin again is important. Whether it be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional, we must empty our vessel, to understand the base of our beginning. The start of the year is perfect to do this both in home and in body, but it can also be done daily or even throughout the day, if and as needed.
I love clear and organized spaces. If my home is messy, my mind is anxious. Not everyone feels this way, but if you do, starting from a place of tidiness will ease the stress of an over active mind. The worst is when I feel behind on my “to dos," both my mind and body are overwhelmed. Providing time each day for a moment to clear my head space helps ease the unsteady emotions associated with a busy schedule.
Start each today, first my clearing your mind, and then my managing your home of the daily clutter life brings. Done every day, there is less overwhelm and anxiousness. Living in calm and peace is the ultimate goal for the year.
Susan J. McFarland
January 11, 2019
Schedules have cleared. The house is free of Christmas decor. Presents have been unwrapped and put away. What’s left is the stillness and the silence of a year coming to a close. It is important to reflect on the past year and contemplate the one on the horizon. On the surface, much has changed, but at the core, all is the same. Love lives on, now, as it did a year ago.
We’ve experienced challenges and growth, opportunities and joy. School, sports, driving, homecoming dances, and break ups, have brought us together as a family. None of it has been easy, only necessary to learn how to maneuver our way through life. So many firsts, for teens and their parents, during these tumultuous years.
On the last Sunday of the year, I sit, while they sleep in their beds, resting from the constant distractions and drama that smart phones bring. In this moment, I breathe. I exhale that which no longer serves me and inhale that which brings me peace. I welcome the experiences of 2019, with an open heart. Knowing I have the awakened understanding of what it takes to care and comfort myself and those I love.
Susan J. McFarland
December 30, 2018
Mid December is here, Christmas fast approaching. The rush of present buying and birthday celebrations has passed, at least for me. Accomplishing December’s requirements in the first few weeks, makes us feel the hustle of the season. Then, the transition starts. Speeding into December with unheralded abandon, we switch gears to slowness and serenity, or at least that is the goal.
It’s not easy, to change direction. Momentum pushes us forward on the chosen path. It takes intention and a conscious effort to stop the machine. Holidays and vacations offer this gift. Forced alteration from the current path, brings a focus and renewal from any situation. Sometimes we just need to stop. Breathe. Look around and see where we are actually heading. Is this where we want to go? Is this the best way to get there? Life offers unlimited distractions. Are they providing us with growth toward our goal or do they give us an escape from our current status? There is nothing wrong with an occasional break from reality, as long as there is a conscious intention involved.
Christmas is a time when we can get caught up in expectations without intention; our’s, other’s, or society’s. Running full speed, we loose sight of our need for slowness and serenity. Moments of peace quietly call us. Christmas reminds us that the light and love we are searching for in all are comings and goings, is actually found in the stillness of any given moment. Christmas presents us with this gift, it is up to us to unwrap it.
Susan J. McFarland
December 12, 2018
Dreaming last night, I found myself ready to perform a skit, as part of a team. I couldn’t remember my lines. I was worried, because we hadn’t practiced enough. I was lost, late, and without shoes. A metaphor for an unscripted and an ungrounded life awoke.
Isn’t that what life is? We want it to be different. We want it to be something it’s not. In reality, there is no script or rehearsal. We often appear lost within it. Showing up behind schedule and not prepared, leaves us unsettled. Yet, this is how it is meant to be.
After Thanksgiving break, we have a snow day. I don’t need or want a snow day. That was not the scripted plan. I had the plan, or so I thought. This belief keeps my mind calm, but this is not the truth. Learning to sit and be still in an unscripted world and wait for the scene to develop organically, is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.
Yoga is helping me to be in this unknown space. Showing up for class, not knowing the routine or even the teacher, leaves me a chance to practice the first step in letting go of my need to know. As a wait and listen for instruction, I slowly process the guidance and move to the rhythm of my breath. When I need to stop, rest, or hydrate, I do. When I’m ready to begin again, I join in. My script, develops at its own pace, in its own way, depending on my energy of the day. That is enough.
Taking this message from my dream, as I sit and gaze upon the snow covered woods, I wait. The day unfolding, slowly, not as planned, but as needed. Trusting that the Universe knows what is best, I relinquish the role I anticipated playing. Neither lost or late, only being where I am, shoes or no shoes, it’s all good.
Susan J. McFarland
November 26, 2018
Early in the morning, I head to yoga. Positioning myself in alignment with a tree outside the window, I set up my mat. This tree welcomes me to “be” with it. It holds space until I arrive, during class, and into the days ahead. Keeping focus, I gaze at it, allowing the steadiness and strength of it to envelop my being. Firm in its location, by the lake, it watches and listens to the sights and sounds.
From an early morning sunrises, to a late night sunsets, it takes in the array of activities that pass by it. Birds come to a nearby feeder, chirping and tweeting, gathering seeds, then fluttering away. A woodpecker knocks on the building, hoping to find a treat. Squirrels and chipmunks rustle about at its trunk. Large birds fly overhead, landing for rest on the cool waters. In silence, the tree listens. In grounded stillness, it waits.
As storms come, clouds turn from bright white to an ominous grey. Rain falls and winds blow. Holding steady at the bottom, the tree flexes and flows with the wind. The tree loses a few leaves and branches, ones that had already lost their vitality. New ones can begin to blossom and bloom, as temperatures rise. The tree is always moving. Change is a daily occurrence, yet it holds solid in its foundation, clinging to Mother Earth.
The weather cools. Bright green leaves, turn to brilliant gold colors.
Fog ebbs across the lake. Paddlers float by on boards, emerging from the misty waters. The tree watches. Rest is near. The tree is ready to let go of all of its leaves.
Winter comes. It is cold and dark.The critters have gone underground or down south. The lake is frozen with a sheet of ice. Snow blankets the ground. Quiet lasts longer. The tree has lost its color and splendor. There is nothing to do, but wait. Wait for the people to come and “be” with the tree, morning, afternoon, and evening. Naked and devoid of leaves and bright colors, it is vulnerable to the winds of change. The tree teaches the yogis, even though it lacks outward beauty, that true strength resides within. Standing firm in its space, heart open, it allows life changes to pass it by, yet it beckons its visitors to “be” with it.
The Earth warms. Leaves bud. Birds return. The tree awakens to greet a new spring day, happy to just “be”.
Susan J. McFarland
October 26, 2018
Sunday, the day of rest, in the past, was used for a dial it in day. As a society, we no longer use this day or any other, to dial in. I love dial in days. By nature, I’m a homebody. Finding recluse from the busy world, I often retreat to my home space. As an empath and a sensitive, I now know, I have to have “down time” to survive. It is no longer solely a reward.
Dialing in can refer to staying home, in a comfortable place. Gaining energy from solitude and quiet, helps to revitalize a weary soul. Yoga too, can be a dial in practice, especially during the ending meditation. Meditation can happen after a practice. Or it can be done anywhere, at anytime, when you need to dial in. Life does not always allow a full day of dialing in at home, in contemplation.
Meditation, the original WiFi connection, is still available. It doesn’t require a cave or an ashram. There are no costs or start up fees. It is free. You are free to tap into the mysteries of self and the Universe whenever the need for dialing in occurs. It calms the spirit and quenches the soul, like no other remedy from the outside world. All potions and products, only offer droplets of relief, compared to this sacred art.
Find a comfortable spot in or outside, close your eyes or keep them open. Sit or lay down for twenty minutes. Breath. Watch your thoughts come in and out. No need to control or change them, just observe. They come. They go. Notice your breath. Notice your body. Notice your mind.
It’s all good. No judgment. No expectation. Energy shifts.
Turn your dial inward and turn your life around.
Susan J. McFarland
October 14, 2018
Thursdays are hard days. We are all tired from the first part of the week. My husband left for an overseas trip yesterday. My two teenage daughters are hormonal. We are all stressed with schedules, homework, and social pressures. Rest is calling, but I’m not listening. I have too much to do.
My day is planned. Instead of yoga, I decide to pick up a few groceries. This would be the second trip this week. We are low on a few items, but we are not desperate for food. The night activities include a cross-country meet and a possible homecoming ask for my oldest daughter. We are all nervous about the days events.
The morning starts as normal, but as the time comes to leave the three of us are in total rush mode. We leave late. I drive in traffic and darkness with two quiet teenagers, both in a funk. My emotions are high. As an empath and a sensitive, I can feel their anxiety. Confronting my high schooler about her “quietness” and “attitude," she answers me with silence. We part with a short “I love you”. I want to cry.
On the way home, I scream and sob. This is not my normal behavior. I am more reserved and usually “keep it all together”. I’m tired. I need rest. I require deep and extreme self-care today. Coming home and using my excess energy to put away the summer patio furniture, I decide to have a cup of tea. I love tea, but I have not allowed myself the privilege and luxury of having a cup in the morning. I sit down with my ginger tea, selected to aid digestion, since digestion is tied to emotions. My emotions are flying high. I need to get grounded.
Sipping my tea, I decide to do a weekly writing lesson, that I haven’t had time to do this week. Coincidently, ironically, or serendipitously, the lesson is about sitting down and drinking TEA! Really?
Questions are asked about preparations. When drinking tea, one must select the tea. This is an important first step and necessitates tuning into your body, mind, and soul. Next, I choose my tea mug. It’s all has a quote nature and patience. I use a hot pot, so I must fill the container with clean filtered water. This requires presence. Once the water in turned on, I wait and listen for the boiling bubbles. Pouring the hot liquid over the ginger leaves, I smell the pungent scent. Sitting down in my sunroom, gazing into the woods, the peace and serenity envelop me, even before I take my first sip. I am still. I am present. I am calm. Tea has changed my plans. Listening to my inner calling, I understand that I need a morning of extreme self-care. This is not selfish or unproductive. It is critical to my health and the well-being of my family. Tea has brought me here. This is the reason I have a love affair with tea, which I have been neglecting. As part of my plan today, I commit to rekindling my love for tea.
Susan J. McFarland
September 27, 2018
When computers overload, they shut down. Our human bodies can have the same reaction. This happened to me, at least three times. Suffering from physical stress and mental anxiety, produced unexplained seizures in my brain. High sensitivity and extreme empathy causes my system to shut down, literally, when it becomes overloaded. Having experienced this during periods of my life, when balance wasn’t a priority, I now find it imperative to maintain a stable and steady life.
We are all different. Anxiety creeps into my system when I don’t have a plan. I feel ill ease when I can’t control situations or outcomes. When life is busy with activities that keep changing and people are stressed out around me, my nervousness skyrockets. Whether it is a messy room or an over crowded environment, I feel unbalanced. I know this about myself now. In the past, I ignored it. Pushing through the feelings, I overdid it, until I couldn’t do it any longer. I don’t do that now.
My daughter is completely the opposite. She hates schedules and plans. They stress her out. She loves her mess. She loves crowds and busy places. Hanging with people discussing life’s dramas is her favorite pastime. What works for one doesn’t necessary work for another, when finding balance. Know thyself is key.
I sit and write, with a cat on my lap, drinking tea, after a walk in the woods. Yoga, healthy foods, reading, and music offer relief from everyday stresses. Incorporating a few of these into each and every day, keeps my teeter from tottering. These are my balancing tools.
A teeter-totter needs to go up and down, back and forth, before it finds the sweet spot of balance. Some entities bring both balance and stress. I love my friends and family. They are a great source of comfort and calm. They bring happiness and joy, but like any relationship, they provide a dynamic that needs daily adjustments. Similar to water, friends and family can be both a source of life and at the same time, can be detrimental and destructive. Understand the people, places, or situations that are both life affirming and life retracting.
Use the tools that work for you to step in and help restore peace to your nervous system. Managing balance is a constant job of checking in with yourself and adjusting as necessary. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you. Living in harmony is the reward.
Susan J. McFarland
October 5, 2018