Though my brain is older, it has become much more supple through the process of study. I am also thrilled to be involved in the Global Coherence Initiative, a non-profit group through HeartMath whose goal is to take all of the heart coherence we can muster and send it to those in the world who need our empathy and support. In the process we are changing the magnetic field of our mother, Earth. Life is a blessing, and I know it more every day.
A heart-friend, Elaine Mansfield, invited me to join a blog tour begun by Jean Raffa. Since I am a first time tour participant, Elaine was kind enough to lead me through the process. She writes with a strong sense of place and is connected deeply to her home and her civic involvement. Elaine is a life-long student of philosophy mythology, Jungian psychology and the spiritual traditions from many cultures and she used her knowledge as a women’s health counselor for 25 years. However, after the death of her husband in 2008, her studies turned to healthy grieving and creating a new and fertile life for herself. The result is that she now facilitates hospice support groups for women who have lost partners. She also writes for the Hospicare and Palliative Care of Tompkins County newsletter and website and helps others find the spiritual core and deeper connections available within loss and grief. Her book Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief is being published by Larson Publications and will be available in October of 2014. I can’t wait to read it.
Elaine writes a weekly blog about life’s adventures and lessons at elainemansfield.com/blog. Her email address is email@example.com.
For this blog tour, I was asked to answer four questions. To learn more about me and my work, visit my website at http://www.theresetappouni.com where you can sign up for my blog.
1) What Am I Working On?
I have just completed my memoir, which will be making the publication rounds after a bit of polishing. I’ve also been seeing clients and, most importantly, completed my classes to become a Certified HeartMath® Trainer. I’ve been a one-on-one provider for several years, and had the desire to reach more people with this amazing work. Recent studies with active duty and returning veterans has shown incredible improvements in their lives, their decision making and their stress with the Resilience Program. I will continue to promote my latest book The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss and presenting workshops on that subject as well. Reaching the age of 72 sees the “hounds of heaven” baying at my heals saying do it now! I know that includes deeper relationships with family and partner as well as my professional life, and it feels right and good.
2) How Does My Work Differ from Others of its Genre?
My genre? I believe that my genre is people and the heart. I have written several self-help books, essays, two novels and my book on grief. The theme is always about the importance of the heart. Something as small as breathing into the heart consistently and consciously throughout the day changes blood pressure, stress points and our ability to feel first, then act. For example, if something occurs and we have the impulse to lash out, if we breathe deeply into the heart and out again, we have a space in which to create a different outcome. That’s big! If we all did that, think what the world would look like. I play music, record CDs of visualizations and meditations to accompany my books and write poetry. I don’t think I have a genre. Through my publishers, Amazon and the store on my website, you can get a taste of my work.
3) How Does My Writing Process Work?
My writing process begins with something stirring in my heart and gut. Something wants to be told and my body knowing is preparing a space, just as if I were pregnant. Sometimes it comes from my compulsive researching and reading. If I become interested in a subject, it can go deep and demand exploration. I then begin to compulsively make notes—on napkins, in journals and even surreptitiously in the middle of conversations. I become a bit distracted. I always keep journals, and at this point I will begin one dedicated to this book or essay that is forming. I write down anything that moves me, from quotes to aphorisms to things I see on the news.
After awhile of this, I begin to write possible titles, chapters, major thoughts on cards and put them in a box with dividers labeled in pencil—that’s because all will change as I go along. For a novel, I’ll write descriptions of my characters, their personalities, their life path and what their purpose is in the book. At some point, all of this comes together in what I call THE BOOK, and I being to write—longhand! There’s no doubt that using the hand to write connects to the brain in creative ways not possible on a keyboard. I will do the outline on the key board, but the first draft is hand written. Only then do I move to the computer which is a wondrous source of research and editing. One of my favorite rants right now is the elimination of cursive writing from the schools—which also is helping the elimination of creativity—but that’s for another time.
4) Why do I Write What I Do?
Because I have to. It’s that pregnant thing again—I have no choice. I become pregnant with the idea and the words and it’s inevitable that I will move ahead and deliver at some point. The analogue breaks down when I hit nine months—it’s more like an elephant pregnancy. It can take years. I have no doubt that my age, what’s happening in my spiritual and physical world and in the bigger world all play into what I will be writing. The loss of my son began affecting my writing many years ago, and I always felt that what I put out there needed to have meaning. The wounds of life create a space for meaning to grow, and I never forget that. I have collaborated with composer Michael Hoppé, writing poetry to his gorgeous heart-centered music. That is something I would not have done when life had not challenged me in my deepest center. I write out of gratitude for all that I have been given, and also the necessity of following my soul’s path. I have learned love by experiencing loss, not only through the death of my son but the death of a thirty year marriage. Did I see them, at the time, as food for writing? Never. My writing lay fallow following these grievous hurts. But they took me deep and helped me excavate the Truth of myself—and that’s where I write from; the depths of me.
I am grateful that you have read this, and look forward to hearing from anyone at firstname.lastname@example.org. Blessing to all who write, love and share. And now, I introduce you to the next person who will blog here. Check her out—she’s amazing.
Trish is the author of an amazing book titled Riding into Your Mythic Life; Transformational Adventures with the Horse. Trish says: “Anyone who has admired a horse galloping across a field has stepped into their mythic life, if only for a moment. Horses are by nature mythic, representing in our collective imagination the human journey at its greatest. Trish is a therapeutic riding instructor, presenting her ideas and programs all over the world. You will be lifted into a new space with Trish and her powerful allies.
Today, I remember to be grateful. What a small thing that seems to be, but in the midst of the mind and media chatter of my days, it’s something I have to be mindful of. A practice of gratitude is so easy and super rewarding. As I think of the first thing I am grateful for, a waterfall of people, places and happenings flow into my heart. It becomes difficult to slow them down and savor them as they arrive. Knowing that everything I experience is a gift certainly adds to the volume!
For those of you who noticed my absence, I have been studying to become a certified HeartMath trainer. Last week, I received my certificate and license and I am now authorized to work with groups—corporate, non-profit and people in my own practice and workshops. Because I believe so heartfully in the work of HeartMath, it has been my desire to reach more people with this wonderful gift. Now I can! The program is scientifically based on the power of the heart-brain and the necessity for the brain, heart and emotions to be in sync for us to operate at our highest ability for our highest purpose. This process is called “coherence” and means daily resilience in the face of stress. Building our internal resources is like charging our batteries. I am thrilled that HeartMath is now being used in the military to heal and strengthen our returning veterans in ways they never dreamed. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share this amazing work.
I encourage each of you to have a practice of gratitude. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing at work or at home, but simply breathe into your heart and say “thank you.” The purpose of breathing around and into the heart is that it is scientifically proven that where we focus our breath strengthens the organ we are breathing over or around.
In the midst of playing with a child or a dog or preparing a meal, it’s so easy to be grateful. Sometimes I look at the beautiful greens and tomatoes I’m preparing for a salad and feel such gratitude for the fact that I can just go to the store and buy them—or get them from my daughter’s garden when I’m in Jacksonville. Then I immediately see my daughter, and her siblings, and the gratitude swells in my heart. When a challenging person comes into my day, I am grateful that I am not in their angry space and I send peace from my heart to theirs. That is a powerful practice! I am grateful to each of you who take time in your busy day to read what I’ve written. I send you appreciation and love.
Love is not many things, such as judgment, criticism, separation and superiority. Love is an open heart. A great exercise for this day is to think of someone or something that is not lovable, to your mind, and just open your heart to their heart. Lay judgment aside, and simply send love, wishing for that person or place to feel your love. Breathe into it. That’s all there is to it. You don’t have to get a response, but you will feel loving and that adds to the positive energy going out to the planet. Practice this every day and you will find that your reactions to the negative things happening around you will get smaller and smaller. And by the way, I am sending you love!
In September, I was asked to be a guest on a radio show hosted by the amazing Janet Conner. Both of us are great lovers of the work of John O’Donohue. She had decided that in the month of Samhain and Halloween (October) she would have a weekly guest who would talk about “Making Friends With Death.” I was to be the guest on the third week.
At that time, I was in a joyful place anticipating the marriage of my son Christopher and his beloved Annie. Though I teach and coach people through grief, this was a step deeper then I had ever gone. Make FRIENDS with death? Really? And then I re-read John O’Donohue’s beautiful book “Anam Cara”, which translates as friend of the soul, where he proposes that death is born with us–though ignored in the celebratory surroundings of birth–and walks with us through our life.
I began to pay attention to my life in a way that allowed for all the “little deaths” that had come and gone with small griefs, and the larger deaths that had imprinted me forever. As I did, I noticed that aging in small increments held my attention as I had entered my 70th decade, and that the Fall of my life was impinging on relationships, choices and emotions. So I began to walk with death and discuss with death what comes next.
I noticed a comfort level, almost a support and encouragement, in my soul. Colors were more vibrant, the joy surrounding the wedding was palpable, and I was in gratitude to a larger degree then usual. As I talked with a beloved friend undergoing cancer treatment, we were speaking at the level of soul, not fear. I realized that though I had made friends with grief on many levels, I had run from death–especially the bony scythe-wielding caricature of Halloween as we practice it in this country.
Janet’s challenge to me changed my life in ways that are just beginning to show themselves. I encourage everyone to imagine what it would be like to removed the fear–especially that we see on television 24/7 not only through the news but commercials. Obviously, when I watch the nightly news, the medication commercials are aimed at an older audience who fears the effects of aging. When we see through death’s eyes, we are not afraid–we are empowered to see those things for what they are and we can laugh. We are triumphant when we have no fear.
I welcome your contact in the way of your going. Peace and love surround you and your loved ones and your quiet companion.