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Gardening Experiment 2020

DAY 1:   I planted seeds.

Since we made eggs this morning and used up what was left in the paper egg carton, I decided to use the carton to start a vegetable garden. First, I dug through my garage supplies and containers to make sure I had seeds. Success! They’re pretty old. 2013 seeds. I’m starting with the seed packs that are already open. Green beans, yellow corn, radishes.

I crumbled up the four eggshells from breakfast and broke them into bits, the remainder of the white albumen and all. I put a bit of this chunky mess into each of the twelve egg slots of the carton as fertilizer. I used wax paper to line the bottom of the open top cover (didn’t have any freezer paper) and put eggshell bits on that side, too.

Then I added the garden soil from a bag I had in the garage. I love my garage supplies. It’s always a pleasant surprise to see what I’ve managed to save or recycle for “someday” projects. Dirt is a garage supply staple in my opinion. I even have some potting soil for cactus plants… another project for later.

I heaped enough garden soil to fill the carton egg holes to over-flowing, knowing the soil would likely shrink when I watered the seeds at the end.

I really over-seeded this tiny start-up garden. Instead of two or three seeds per hole, they got six to eight. If they actually sprout – and it’ll be interesting to find out because the seeds are so old – then I can transplant the seedlings later into my many empty pots in the garage and use more of the big bag of garden soil that I still have sitting there. I’m not willing to put this baby garden outside yet, except during the warm sunny days. Fortunately, the large tray I have helps me carry the egg carton back and forth from the outside to inside. It also catches any water overflow.

The seeds all received a generous bath of water and the soil shrunk down like I thought it would. I left the empty seed packets near each section to identify them later. Since it’s a bit chilly outside today, I’ll keep them inside on the counter near a window for a couple of days (see photo).

It feels good to be planting something. I haven’t had a garden for several years, as evident by the date on the seed packets. And since this “quarantine” makes it possible to stay home for an extended period, I might actually be able to attend to these plants regularly and watch them grow. All I need to do is make sure the seeds get sunshine, stay warm, and be somewhat moist until they sprout.

Come along for the journey. Prayers and good vibes welcome for these baby plants.

Our Responsibilities with Death

Today my husband and I had one of those “difficult” conversations. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic affecting the globe and hearing about thousands of people dying, I insisted that we review our Wills and other final documents. While there is some comfort in knowing we made certain arrangements a dozen years and five house moves ago, clearly it’s time for an update.

The subject of our eventual death need not be one we avoid nor approach with overwhelming emotion. The fact is we are all going to die at some point. It’s just a matter of when and how. We may not have control over either of those decisions, but we can make known to family, friends, or an attorney our wishes about certain things being done upon our exit from this life. It is the responsibility of each individual to determine his/her final wishes in the last chapter of one’s life story.

Eckhart Tolle said, “Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.”

Let me make something clear: I love my life. I LOVE my life! It is better now than it’s ever been. While certainly there are some experiences I would never have consciously chosen for myself, I’m grateful every day for the journey that brought me to this place and time.

And I take care of myself in a way that supports my body for a long experience on this planet. I still have much to do and be before I make my transition from this plane to whatever is beyond this earthly existence. Any fear of death I carried into adulthood continues to be replaced by decades of studies in world religions, death traditions, rituals, beliefs, and spiritual growth. And, yes, I do believe the soul or essence of who we are continues in another realm or dimension. It’s a mystery and a future adventure.

Meanwhile, as we practice social distancing, personal retreats, or self-quarantines, and follow the guidelines to keep one another healthy and safe, I believe it is also important to be practical, responsible, for any unforeseen (but possible) situations… death being one of them. As the number of deaths from this virus increase each day, it can be difficult to consider we could become part of those statistics. However, currently we’re part of the living and that provides us with an opportunity to be responsible adults.

Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, wrote in the Science of Mind textbook in the chapter on Immortality some of my favorite lines of this philosophy: “And so we prepare not to die, but to live. The thought of death should slip from our consciousness altogether; and when this great event of the soul takes place, it should be beautiful, sublime . . . a glorious experience. As the eagle, freed from its cage, soars to its native heights, so the soul, freed from the home of heavy flesh, will rise and return unto its Father’s house, naked and unafraid.”

For me, preparing “not to die, but to live…” means that I take care of those tasks, documents, directions, expenses, etc. that are mine to do. This includes my funeral arrangements, cremation, designation or distribution of personal items, and so forth. No one can guess what I have in mind unless I write it down and offer some directions. I believe my wishes will be honored by those who I’ve entrusted with such requests. And, the thing is, once everything I need to clarify and list and label is recorded and shared appropriately, I can focus on Life and all it still offers.

A few years before my father died, he shared with me certain things he wanted to have done after he was gone. His list was not a long one. Unfortunately, he didn’t write down what he had shared with me. Then another family member took control of his life and finances in those final months. While more than two years have passed since he made his transition, I intend to honor him and his verbal requests as best I can, and in more ways than he originally suggested.

The 2017 experience with my father’s death and his unfulfilled final requests inspired me to create a “Funeral Planning Workbook.” It has since been published (on Amazon) and used by a growing audience of folks, like me, who are willing to address their eventual death and consider what final arrangements are desired. In so doing, we are being accountable to ourselves by taking care of tasks NOW so that our families won’t need to be burdened with them later.

Whether you choose to purchase and utilize such a planning tool or start handwriting your list on a notepad, I encourage you… in these days of isolation, reflection, self-care, and with a focus on your health and longevity… give some thought and direction to what you can do to ease the burdens of those you will leave behind. You might discover ways to simplify life even further.

As we’ve seen on the news or in social media, this virus doesn’t care about your age, gender, social or economic status, race, profession, or where you live. So if you’re reading this, you still have time to complete a very important life task… and let someone (or two) know where to find your final documents and instructions. Research online. Download templates to get started. Consult with legal professionals. File whatever forms are necessary by mail or email. And once it’s done, having considered the worst that could happen, you will have a better appreciation for this awesome experience called Life and can joyfully look forward to the best it has in store for you.

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The Gift of Time – a prayer

Right here, right now, is where God is. All I have is this moment – and then the next. Time expands and contracts as I need it and life unfolds in perfect order. The past is just a distant memory and the future is a window of possibilities. I have NOW! I have the crisp, fall days and the cool, moonlit nights. I watch the leaves turn from yellow to red to brown and slowly drift to the ground, from bare treetops to frosty grass below. The abundant flow of life is all around me and I am bathed in the generosity of Spirit. In this moment of absolute perfection, the bounty of God – all the time in the world – is presented to me as a gift. My gift.

I, too, am a gift, an expression of Spirit – unique, individual – and filled with all the qualities of God. Yes, I am one with Divine Mind – that timeless and eternal grace. And I am part of the changing seasons as autumn becomes winter – living in cycles – birth into death, and birth again. I am content to watch the leaves as they drift to the ground, each one also uniquely designed. I watch as each melds onto the ground to become united with those that have fallen beforehand. Connected, united, one. And soon the leaves become snowflakes and the cycle begins again.

And I recognize the eternal nature of this cycle of creation – spring and fall, birth and death, youth and the aged. These are not opposites but just one stage following another in a continuous cycle of life. Time is relevant only to humankind – and I have all the time I need – to complete life’s goals, to serve my community, to express my full nature and gifts of God. I have Now. And in this moment is contained all the passion in my heart. My purpose for being – to use this moment for the truest expression of my God-self as I can imagine.

My heart overflows with gratitude and love. I give thanks daily for the God expression that is Me – for the time I have to be in this magnificent experience called Life – for all those individuals who come in and out of my days like so many leaves blowing across the field – for the abundance and prosperity that continues to pour forth into my experience like the generous harvest of old. Thank you, Spirit!

So, I release these words to Law and anticipate their return in even greater expression as they fill all the voids many times over. I let go and let God direct the leaves in the wind, the cycles of the moon, the beating of my heart, and the tick of the clock. Right here, right now, I am content. I simply allow and let it be.

And so it is.

(a spiritual mind treatment / affirmative prayer written by Carla Ryan in 2006 as part of her Religious Science Practitioner studies)

Moving… finale…

UPDATE (6/10/19):  The home inspection did not go as planned and we canceled the contract on this property. We have decided to pursue alternative ideas toward our financial goal of being mortgage-free and to stay in this home for as long as we can.

        Today we started packing. Filling boxes. We’re moving again. This will be our fifth move in five years. Insane, I know. Especially considering how “mature” in years we are. We pray it’s the last… again.

        I jokingly, at times, claim to have gypsy blood. Today I have no doubt. Why else would this seem like a normal thing to do? What’s the bottom line? Why would we be willing to do this again in our mid-to-late 60’s?

        We – my husband (Mike) and I – want to be mortgage-free. No debts, especially the house loan. The sale of our current home will allow us to achieve the long-held goal for us to NOT “have to” work. It greatly reduces the self-imposed mental and financial stress. We can do other things with our time and money… travel, develop hobbies, build a spiritual community, visit grandkids… the possibilities are unlimited!

        The other key reason is this. We’ve had many discussions about what we would do with this large, beautiful home (where we now live) when one of us dies. It’s going to happen. We may as well talk about it. BOTH of us have stated – we’re in agreement – that whoever is the survivor would sell the house and move into something smaller, more manageable. So, we figured, why not do that now? Do it together, get settled, and then when that grieving time comes, the remaining spouse would NOT have to do it or make such decisions during such a sad time. And after running all the numbers, it just makes good financial sense.

        For some folks our age, this mortgage-free goal has already been accomplished. Not for us. We attribute the delay to having multiple marriages (both of us) and having to “start over” to some degree after each divorce. Not recommended, but it’s in our pasts. Also, we don’t remember having good financial role models.

        It also took us awhile to learn good money management skills. Budgets. Emergency savings. Retirement funds. Sharing. Allowances. And healing the wounds around money issues from childhood into adulthood and through the present. The scabs of those wounds get lifted on occasion, but mostly they’re quickly put back into place where they belong… the past. We’ve looked at our beliefs and (mis)trust issues around money and abundance MANY times and often. There have been arguments, blow-outs, tears, and recovery. Not so much anymore. Thank goodness.

        One thing we’ve done correctly over the past five to eight years is make better decisions about what we do with the funds after the sale of a home. Those decisions have brought us to our beautiful resort-like home, which will soon be put on the market. We’ve lived here two years. We could continue to live here. We can afford the payments. We just don’t want to do it anymore. So we’ve decided to downsize, once again, but in a different direction and with more experience behind us. We’re aware of how much of a downsize we can handle.

        The previous moves included going from large homes (3,300 to 4,500 square feet) to smaller ones (1,600 square feet) with large lots. The house was either too small or the property too much to take care of. We learned what we could or wanted to maintain. We learned how much space we needed for a home so we could live together and still like each other. This time we’ve selected a manufactured home (think double-wide) of 1,800 square feet on a rented lot that we can maintain or hire out.

        We call it #18 (part of the address). We’ve had “919” and “22” and currently we’re in “474.” It’s a thing we do when we remember the different places we’ve lived. In Australia it was simply “Margaret Avenue” or the “Turramurra” house. In childhood (for me) it was “Swan Creek” or “Gratiot Road.” We like the numbers better. And, yes, we read the house numerology descriptions along the journey.

        Thankfully, this time, the downsize process won’t require us to get rid of too much of what we’ve accumulated in furniture. We did most of that two moves ago. What we don’t really need will go into a storage unit for now until we get the rest all sorted out and in-place. Whatever is extra can be given away or sold.

        We can keep our books for “the library” room. I have room for my sewing machine and craft supplies and keyboard. We’ll both have offices. And we have approval to keep our new hot tub. Whew! However, the covenants, as we discovered, allows for only one dog. We have two.

        Our little Zoey will be carefully re-homed to someone who will care for her as well or better than we have. She’s a likeable and sassy miss that is more adoptable than our Casper. It’s taken a long time to get him to trust us and heal from his wounded past. Both dogs were rescues over three years ago, but Casper had a much more dramatic past to overcome. Zoey has been his teacher. He’s come a long way, but has further to go to be the wholly, healed dog I see him to be. Zoey’s got it covered. She knows who she is and lets you know it! She’s already a love-bug (when she allows it). Casper is still overly cautious about who is allowed to come near him (or us). Perhaps being an only dog will give Casper the extra attention and space he needs to discover himself.

        There you have it. The “why” and a bit of the “how” of it all.

        We’ve selected a comfortable home in a beautiful, treed setting just a few miles from where we are. A small town and all its shops are within walking distance. A bike trail and river are just a few minutes’ walk from our neighborhood. We’ll be surrounded by vineyards, orchards, and parks. We’re still a short drive to friends and restaurants and other activities. We’re planning to do a few upgrades and changes before we move in. Things we’ve done at other homes.

        And what helps us KNOW we’ve made the right decision is how quickly and precisely EVERYTHING has “fallen into place” in the time since we made the decision. Even our ego-voices have nothing to say at this point. This has totally been a God-thing.

The process began just a week ago. The price of the next home came down. The initial mortgage was approved; preliminary papers have been signed. The inspection is scheduled. The realtor for our current home is on-board and ready to list it early next month. The packing is underway to stage our home for sale… and there’s not a lot to do in the way of repairs. Just decluttering and cleaning. This house will sell quickly. It only takes one… and what if it’s easy… is our frame of mind (mantra) and our experience.

        And it’s all happened easily and effortlessly around the plans and projects we already had scheduled. Everyone involved has been helpful and friendly. We’ve received TONS of support and validation about our decision from friends and family. The timing is perfect!

        I’m looking forward to enjoying our new lifestyle after all the boxes have disappeared and the paperwork is filed. We’ve both worked a long time to get to this point, even with all the life detours we made along the way. I like (and love) my husband. I pray we enjoy this new place together for at least 20 years. The last owner of #18 lived to be 102 years old! Maybe we will, too. It’ll be fun to discover who we are in this different mode of living.

        Thank you, Spirit! I love this creative Life!!

Coat of Many Dreams

During the time I was a single mother (late 1970’s-early 1980’s), I struggled financially to support my young son and myself. I made sure we had shelter, food, clothing, and sometimes recreation or fun things to do. We often dreamed about the places we wanted to visit, the activities we thought would be fun to experience, and what we would love to have.

For me, getting the large Spiegel catalog a couple times a year set me off visioning for myself, especially about how I wanted to present myself in the world by wearing the clothes offered in that catalog. I saw myself in the elegant and classic styles of that time.

Occasionally, I managed to save enough money to purchase a sweater or slacks. One time I even saved enough to buy a military green, long duster coat. I wore that coat for years. It protected me through many snowstorms on my travels to and from the bus stop. But the photograph of the model wearing a long, wool, tailored coat with princess lines… that was the one that seemed beyond my reach.

Fast-forward thirty-five years. My son is grown and gone. Spiegel is no longer in business. However, my desire for that wool coat never wavered. A few years ago, I found a sewing pattern in the style I remembered and loved. More time passes, and, through an online fabric outlet, I bought yards of washable wool in a light gray color at a price I can easily afford. Months after it arrived in the mail, I took a small sample to a local craft/sewing store and purchased satin lining to match.

By the time I had accumulated all the necessary materials, I was living in a mountainous, cold area of Colorado where a wool coat would certainly make winters more comfortable.  But between finishing up a school degree project, remodeling a house for sale, moving, and then engaging in the new community’s activities, the large sewing project waited for almost two more years.

Until now.

Several weeks ago, I placed the first pattern piece onto the wool fabric. I trembled as I cut the material. It was really happening. My fashion dream would become a wearable reality. And piece by piece, step by step, I took my time throughout the long-awaited process. At first, I questioned my sewing abilities to take on such a project. But as the coat began to take shape, my confidence and skills met the challenge. When necessary, I watched sewing lessons via DVD or online. I’d waited this long; there was no hurry to rush through with a bad job.

The end result was exactly what I’d hoped it would look like. Tailored. Classic. Feminine. The long length and swirling hemline a bit medieval. I cried as I completed the final stitches. Success! Completion! Persistence had paid off in self-satisfaction and pride – and I had a lovely coat to show for it. One that I could wear for many years.

This has been a year of recognizing the longing and desires of my heart. I’ve sought guidance from those wiser than me. Weighed decisions carefully before responding. Established new boundaries and interests. Released worn-out things and toxic relationships. Welcomed new friendships. Finished long-desired projects and developed new skills.

It feels like I’m at a turning point… reconsidering the frantic way I’ve always done life. I want to be busy, but at a pace that breathes with life and joy.

I’ve taken a few days to enjoy “finishing” the coat, as well as completing a book series I’ve been reading. I’m ready to jump into “what’s next” yet I do hear the internal warning to pace myself… take care of myself. I feel a bit apprehensive that the next creative endeavor will require a longer commitment from me and I want to be sure I’m willing to make it.

What I know for sure is how much I enjoy the process of creation, something I refuse to give up. Thus, whatever the next step turns out to be, I’ll be challenged, enlightened, and required to grow in some way. I am ready for that!

Community Everywhere

Not too long ago I bemoaned feeling disconnected from a group with whom I’d spent many active months of participation, but in which I was no longer actively involved. I started looking around for other options and realized my life was filled with connection!

My newest exercise schedule includes walking, inside, at the large shopping mall in our town. Yes, I’m a “mall walker.” I log ten to fifteen miles each week as I traverse the brown tile path along the many large, glass windows stuffed with mannequins and clothing trends and assorted items of interest. It helps to go early. Before the stores actually open. Less temptation to buy things. Many others share these halls and that brown tile path. I’m never really alone.

We are a walking community. That is our common bond and purpose for being there each morning. No long conversations except by those who bring along their own walking partners. The dimly lit, wide halls are mostly silent until the mall music begins.

There’s the gentleman wheeling his oxygen tank behind him and the younger woman (maybe his daughter) who tags alongside. One tall, white-haired man, always wearing a flannel shirt and bent slightly forward at the waist, shuffles alone. A woman in a blue sweater with perfect brown hair has her purse strap diagonally strapped across her chest with a perfectly-matched brown purse hanging over her left hip.

The security guard in his yellow, uniform shirt with bold black letters strolls in the opposite direction and down the middle between the regulars. He seems oblivious to the rules of walking. His walkie-talkie positioned on his hip is silent most days as well.

Another man – small thin frame, gray hair, glasses, and walking shorts – has such a fast pace he’s almost running. He always waves “hello” from across the concourse. I wave back quickly before he’s out of view.

A thin, petite woman, her long, gray and white hair piled high on her head, walks in private up and down one of the side wings of the tentacled mall layout. Back and forth, around the edge of her own routine, her head struggles to hold up the heavy hair as her chin and neck jut forward to maintain balance. Her tiny frame is dressed in a sweater, knit leggings, and tennis shoes. Her arms swing front-to-back like a power walker on a mission. She has the most engaging smile through bright red lipstick.

Then there’s Kathy, the mall worker who washes the entrance door windows, dusts the concourse furniture, and always has a smile and a “hello” to share, if you can catch her eye. Her earplug wires connect her head to some device in her back pocket but never seem to get in the way of her duties as she goes inside and outside to clean the windows.

It was through a short conversation with Kathy that I discovered I’m the walker who wears the cute hats. The day we exchanged names I wasn’t wearing one and she nearly didn’t recognize me. Now I make sure to always wear a hat before I enter this quiet community of dedicated walkers. If anyone’s taking attendance, I want to be sure I’m counted.

I’ve come to see that community is everywhere if you’re but willing to look and engage with those around you. Whether it’s greeting the store staff as they lift metal doors or fill display cases with jewelry, there’s a familiarity among the regular walkers. As I deepen the connection through these casual waves and acknowledge the repeated “hello’s,” I find it’s also what keeps me coming back. Each of us is contributing to community just by showing up.

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RULE #6: Take Care of What You Have

It had finally gotten so bad that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to clean out my large truck/SUV (it’s a Suburban).

For over a year I had been looking in the rear-view mirror at my grandson’s toddler fingerprints spread generously across the back window. He and his sister and their parents had moved to another state several months earlier and I’d kept the window unwashed as a reminder of their presence in my heart, always with me. Now, finally, I took pictures of one handprint silhouetted by the sun before the glass cleaner wiped it away. And then the cleaning began in earnest.

By the time I finished the interior, exterior, wheels and floors and glass, I was in love with my truck again. Yes, it’s 10 years old. And, yes, I still have a few more payments on it before it’s finally, really mine. But the process of its rejuvenation brought me closer to its attributes and reminded me why I bought it in the first place: the roominess of three rows of seats plus space for the dog…the sturdiness of it…the secure and safe feeling I get while riding in it or driving with my family…the leather interior…the built-in DVD player in the backseat (wish I had that when I was a kid)…the wonderful stereo system for listening to children’s rhyming songs…the way the gray color never shows the dirt… seat heaters…air conditioning…low miles…dependability.

The clean results reminded me that, as long as I take care of this vehicle, inside and outside, this might actually be the last one I ever need to buy. I found comfort in that idea. And it led me to others like it.

  • As long as I take care of my home, it will likely stand longer than I do and the improvements will bring new comfort, generous memories, and improved value.
  • As long as I pay attention to my friendships and family relationships, they can go on and on for as long as one remains.
  • As long as I maintain my gardens with the proper nourishment of soil and fertilizer, the seasons will take the plants from seed to harvest to compost; the growth and beauty will last and expand year after year.
  • As long as I continue to hone my skills and creative talents, my work – whatever it is – will continue to evolve until I my interests change and I choose another direction. Yet my creative nature will always be a part of who I am.
  • As long as I take care of what I have, it will be part of my life.

And by taking care of what I have, I’m sending a message to Universal Intelligence that I’m worthy of more Good. Since I can be trusted to take care of what I already have …whether it’s a personal attribute or a material possession …I believe that other opportunities and wealth of various sorts will come my way …that the richness of life is attracted to what I already possess like metal to a magnet.

It’s said “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” (Matt. 13:12) This finally made sense to me.

Besides, why would we NOT want to take care of what we already have or possess? Financial wisdom dictates that we would want to make last what we have, what we’re using, for as long as we can so that our resources can go further for other purposes. Also I want the people around me to feel welcome and loved, to experience community and interaction. I choose to grow and expand in consciousness of all kinds, in skills of all kinds and levels, and in a variety of interests.

Rule #6: Take care of what you have …brings with it a feeling of gratitude …for all the Good already in your life and what more is sure to come along.

Taking care of this big old truck is like taking care of the precious memories that filled its seats with the laughter and love of my grandchildren. It holds the possibility that one day they will again ride in the back seat, watch one of their old movies, and hear stories about the handprints on the window. Maybe they’ll even remember. I’d welcome that kind of Good – and more – any day!

RULE #5: Contentment is Completion

Do you recall the feeling you experienced the last time you FINALLY finished something? Maybe you made that phone call… or you wrote that paper… or you finished up a chore that’s been staring you in the face for days or weeks. Whatever step of the project or however long it had been weighing on your mind, the moment, the very second it’s done, there’s a breath that escapes the body. It’s a physical indication that says, “Whew! That’s done!”

There’s contentment in that moment of awareness when you complete some portion of interest in your life. Think about it.

You might plan to do a bit of yard work, just a small task in the overall scheme of things. Until you do it, you carry that project around in your mind, and maybe your muscles, until you finally go outside and get it done. Your whole body relaxes with the knowing that it’s “off your list.” You look around at how nice it looks. You might even start fantasizing about what you’re going to do next. Maybe.

Or you say you’re going to call your mom or dad or distant child, but keep putting it off until you get one more thing done, when the moment is right…except, you can’t really concentrate on those other tasks or might not even feel good about doing them, because of the nagging voice in your head, reminding you of the one really important call to make. And you know how happy you are when you finally make that call? Even if all you can do is to leave a voice mail message? Yeah…that’s the feeling of contentment.

Whether the plans before you are to go watch a special movie, read a book, go for a walk, practice the piano, take a class…or…involves more long-term goals like finish your degree, start a business, write a book, go on vacation, plan a wedding, or build a house… the level of contentment can vary and often mirrors the magnitude of the endeavor.

Frankly, I’ve become so enamored by the feeling of contentment (call it an addiction, if you will) that it now motivates me to complete whatever I can each day and then pause for a moment of recognition… not only to celebrate all that’s been released from my consciousness, but also to check-in with whatever weight I might still be carrying around, and to address it right then and there. Additional release might involve scheduling the task on my calendar or to dismiss it from my mind’s ownership altogether.

I’m making progress. I’m getting my things done. And I’m minding my own business about what I think others are supposed to be doing. I’m connecting with loved ones and art and nature more often. My life has become fuller, healthier, and less stressful. My self-esteem is stronger; I’m more confident. The nagging critical voice in my head is quieter. My energy is going in a positive direction and the results are, well, amazing! Contentment IS completion.

Give it a try. Pick something on the “I’ve got to get this done list” in your head and finish it! Then, stop for a moment… and notice how your body’s tension on that matter disappears, how the ego voice fades into the distance, and how your soul just beams with satisfaction. My guess is it won’t be long before you to want to repeat that feeling of happy contentment and complete something else. Go ahead. What a great way to live life!

RULE #4: Watch Your Feet

Rule #4 is about setting boundaries and moving forward… thus it’s important to watch your feet, to know where to place them metaphorically, what your personal limits are, or where you would “draw the line in the sand” in any given situation. We all have limits. We are in charge of choosing our direction, too. It just depends what the situation is or who is involved as to what each of those might be.

Years ago I had the opportunity to dabble in the sport of rock climbing, mostly bouldering. The highest cliff I faced was only 30 to 40 feet high. Put a few of those on top of each other and you have a good-sized mountain.

However, my goal was not to climb Mt. Everest. I simply wanted to get over my fear of heights and this seemed like a logical way to do it. Through the guidance of a qualified instructor and lots of practice, I learned the importance of where to place my hands and feet… one hand, one foot at a time.

Each foot placement was important no matter how high off the ground I was. Each solid step onto the side of the rock meant that I could move up, down or sideways in the direction of my choosing. I then could reach out with my hand and grab hold of even the smallest protrusion to give myself balance and additional stability while each foot, in turn, found the next foundation of support. There was a very good chance that, if my foot slipped, my hand or fingers may not hold my body’s weight and I could fall. The rope was the backup plan, not something to swing from or rely upon.

I faced my fear. Through repeated movements (and instruction and rope/harness gear) I gained the confidence that allowed me to move from bouldering two feet off the ground to climbing a 40-foot cliff. I became strong in body and spirit. I discovered my physical limits and mental boundaries. I was humbled by the rock and empowered by the experience. I grew in self-assurance and faith and moved forward in other life challenges.

We have limits all around us. There are financial limits… how much money you choose to spend on something; what you’re willing to loan to a family member. There are relationship limits… what you’re willing to contribute emotionally to a partner; how long you tolerate a certain unacceptable behavior of a spouse or child. There are many opportunities that prompt a person to stand up to a situation and say “Enough is enough!”

But do you have limits to how much Good you’re willing to let into your life? Do you put a cap on a great idea because of fear? Are there things that would really help you or improve your life but you’re not willing to accept them for yourself? Where do you “stand” in your core values and beliefs?

Setting boundaries or limits can do two things: 1) keep something away that could harm us; or 2) keep us away from our own Good. It’s important to recognize the difference and to know when to change the situation as needed for our highest and best experience.

For most of us…Feet are the body’s instrument upon which we stand. Feet are strong enough to hold up our bodies for hours every day. Feet are the tools that help us drive our cars – accelerator or brake – go forward or stop. Feet are the means that allow us to move in the world, to get from one place to another and to change course at will. Feet move us in many directions and can traverse all types of terrain. Feet provide us with the awareness of a solid foundation, balance, and stability.

Watch your feet. Give yourself the best foundation you’re able. Know your boundaries and move forward in life with confidence and faith.

RULE #3: Maintain Order

If you look around in the world of Mother Nature (the Universe), you will find a natural order to life. One season follows another. A seed comes before the mature plant and before the blossom or fruit. Day and night may happen simultaneously, but only on opposite sides of the planet. A baby learns to roll over or crawl before it can walk. We learn simple math or grammar skills before moving on to more complex concepts. The point is there is a natural order to life.

The same can be said for the way we grow spiritually. We must have some type of awareness or yearning, something that beckons our attention about God before we open our minds to more expansive investigation of the spiritual or religious realm. There is an order to the way we deepen our understanding. There is an order, a process, in the development of our beliefs …in the way we pray and the depth to which we go …in how we connect with Divine Intelligence.

What I have discovered for myself and from what other spiritual seekers have shared is that whatever idea of God was learned in childhood was eventually put under the microscope of doubt …at least for awhile.

Whether it was in the inquisitive teenage years when everything that our parents taught was tossed aside and relearned later …or whether we just forgot about it until those middle-age years when the idea of mortality becomes more of a reality of living.

There’s an order, a progression, a process of learning and exploring and understanding that builds upon itself in a step-by-step fashion of testing, acceptance, and trust.

We don’t (usually) become suddenly enlightened about the entire spiritual realm all at once. We journey into that head and heart and soul space one tentative step at a time. Each bit of information that can be tested, is. Each book or lecture or teacher than can be challenged, is. We do this until we’re sure it’s time to take the next step. Rarely do we run with complete abandon head-on towards God until the path has first been tested.

Perhaps the order we’re compelled to test and then maintain is really to offset the chaotic questioning provided by the doubting ego. In its attempt to remain in control of our fears and thinking patterns, it tosses dust storms of doubt in front of us and obscures our vision to see ourselves as more than just a trembling human body in this world of challenge and triumph. In an effort to break free of the chaos and the distorted view, to discover something bigger than ourselves, we begin to accept an invisible and powerful nature that lives in us and in everyone else. The Power back of all things.

Through a greater awareness and a trust in the Divine, we open ourselves to greater potentiality and find we can create a life of unlimited possibilities, one step at a time. We maintain order. We discover peace in the confusion and purpose in the fragments of our focus. The puzzle of our life is put together and we embrace the loving truth within our own beautiful soul.

Spirit is always there, waiting for our willingness to connect and explore. It is the order of things, now …and yet to come.