Animals and Nature, Authenticity, Awakening, courage, freedom

Self-reliance and the powerful medicine of the heron

Twice this week we have been gifted with the arrival of a magnificent great blue heron on the shore of this small lake.

We watched him walk through the fog on long legs, we saw him swiftly spear for fish, we watched him fly away on huge wings, flashing blue, a regal spirit-bird disappearing across the lake into the mist.

We were in awe, seeing the soul of this beautiful bird that came to our shore, a visit from a winged messenger.

I know now the art of connecting the appearance of a bird or animal with an issue I have been wrestling with.  On my mind these days has been a reworking of the expression of my authentic self, of letting go of aspects of myself that just aren’t true for me anymore – those things I do not want to take with me into the future.

So as I gazed at the heron I found myself remembering this: in past careers, I have been lucky to have had a boss or director who saw potential in me and wanted to develop it.  On at least three occasions I had a boss who wanted to groom me for promotion, who beat the drum for me, gave me opportunities, planned my upward trajectory with me.

And while this is something I was and still am very grateful for, when I look back, I see a revealing pattern. In each case, the person with the pom-poms was removed from the picture before the vision for my career leap had taken form.  In one case it became clear, after many years, that the person whose job I was being groomed for was just never going to leave that job, one director was let go due to corporate “restructuring” and another left for work in another city to be closer to family.

And in their absence I was left to wrestle with the fact that I didn’t really want for myself the dream they had for me.  I didn’t doubt my ability to accomplish it, I just didn’t really want it.  I didn’t hunger for it.  Without their enthusiasm behind me the dream just fizzled out.

And I think that’s why, each time, my mentor/promoter/boss was removed from the picture…to help me stand on my own and figure out where my true path lay.

To show me that I had to bring my own pom-poms and that to do the work required it had to be for something I was truly excited about, something I wanted to reach for.

Which brings me back to the heron.  It’s keynote message for me is about self-determination and self-reliance.

“Heron reflects a need for those with this totem to follow their own innate wisdom and path of self-determination. Follow what is best for you, rather than the promptings of others.” Ted Andrews.

I can see now that I am not traditional in my life roles. I don’t want to be.

I want to stand in my uniqueness, with joy and power, dignity and grace, and follow my own path, unapologetically.

Even aggressively if needed. The editing voice in my head says that the word “assertive” would be better received here, but the way the heron catches his fish is aggressive poetry in motion.

Because the heron, when he aims for a fish, is not messing around.  He is spearing with precision and speed, grasping the opportunity presenting itself, while strongly standing in the water.  He is not apologizing for who he is, he is simply his magnificent self.

He stands on his own.

This is his message to me about self-reliance, his medicine so gracefully given.

From out of the mist I hear him, on blue wings he tells me:  stop apologizing for who you are, stop explaining, stop holding back.  The way you want to live is not for everyone.  Shed the burden of others ideas of who and what you are or could be – for this muddies the waters.  To do this work you will have to stand on your own, root yourself into the earth and balance in the currents of life to recognize and seize the opportunities that are truly yours.

An opportunity he immediately taught me to grab is to share the healing medicine of the natural world with my daughters.  My youngest is as transfixed with animals and birds as I am, she has a natural way with them, and may she always treasure this gift.

And so I take this opportunity to be my authentic self, to stand strong in the swift flowing waters of life with the ease and confidence of a heron, that my daughters may hear their own inner wisdom coming forth and know how to answer it.  To help them unravel the medicine and mysteries of all the plants, trees, insects, animals and birds of this sweet earth.  While they are still receptive, before the noise of the world closes in.

My deepest gratitude to the great blue heron who has shared his powerful medicine with me, and sends me forward with more strength and determination and greater clarity than before.

Truly your sweet arrival through the mist was a gift.

Xo Shona

 

 

how to claim your destiny
Animals and Nature, Authenticity, Awakening, Mindfulness and Meditation

How to Claim Your Destiny by Aligning These 2 Energies.

When I was younger, I was an avid reader of horoscopes and numerology.  I would go hunting for daily, weekly and yearly astrological predictions, even going to astrologers for more precise readings based on my specific time and place of birth.  I wanted to understand myself better and get a glimpse of my future.

All of this was (and still is) fascinating information to me. I bring this up now because I have come to realize that after these astrological sessions, although I felt excited and enlightened and even armed for the future with the information I needed, something was missing — and the missing piece was me.

It was written in the stars, wasn’t it?

I can remember at least twice receiving the prediction that I was going to have a great year, a year of “harvest” in which all my past efforts would bear fruit and I would be showered in abundance and recognition.  Or I would reach my career pinnacle and be presented with new opportunities and promotions. Undoubtedly, I told myself, fame and glory would be mine, I just had to watch it unfold as the years went by.

As you may have guessed, this never turned out quite the way I was anticipating.  And now, with the benefit of hindsight and a lot of self-reflection, I can tell you why.  I was sometimes literally sitting on the couch waiting for opportunity to knock.

I figured I just had to sit back and let the abundance/promotions/accolades roll in because it was written in the stars.

It was my destiny.

So what happened to all that potent possibility?

I didn’t go out to meet it.

I didn’t step out into the work that is required for the universe to move through you and manifest as reality.  I forgot (or I suspect I just never really understood) the important role that I played in “my destiny” – because although it may be written in the stars, your destiny can only be yours if you claim it.

You have to show up and meet your destiny along the way.

We must meet the universe half way with our attention to detail, our effort, our courage, our focus, our willingness to do what needs to be done in the present moment, with trust that the future will unfold accordingly.

I let my lust for outcomes distract me from what needed to be done to achieve those outcomes. I wasn’t honoring what I was seeking, I wasn’t honoring myself or the dream in my heart.

I explored another side of this theme in There is No Way to Push the River, about the fine balance between going with the flow and the dangers of stifling the flow by feeling that we need to be in control or force things to happen.

And as quiet meditation and self reflection helps me peel away the layers of this habit I can see that my experiences with astrological predictions are asking me to meet and address another layer of my story.

In this case the story of the balance between a totally hands-off “what’s mine is coming to me” approach versus “it’s right to have a plan, to write some goals, to work towards them, to have a dream you can create with your own hands and then to trust that the dream that has been placed in your heart is one that you CAN achieve”.

So the essence of this fine balance, between source and the physical, between what is dreamed and what is manifested, came pounding into my life by way of the buffalo.  For this is the gift that buffalo brings.

We can learn from the essence of the buffalo. 

When I started taking the first few steps towards my dream of serving as a holistic healer, I knew I wanted to create a circle where women (and men) could gather in a safe space grounded in love to explore their inner life and connection to the present moment through meditation.

Once I took the first few tentative steps in trust, I was haunted by buffaloes.  I dreamt of buffaloes, I heard buffaloes running in my dreams and one morning awoke convinced they were stampeding through the bedroom.

Around that same time I went into a café I had been to several times before, except that now there was a massive painting of a buffalo on the back wall and I was seated in the booth right next to it where I could see it from my seat.

And so I paid attention.

And then I knew Buffalo was not just here for me, he was here for the group, for the circle I wanted to create.  I came to know that the buffalo would guard and guide the work of our circle.

He would not only help me to manifest this circle but he would bring love, strength and direction to everyone there and allow us to take our visions and insights and dreams gleaned in a circle of love out into the world, to take action and manifest a better life for ourselves and a better world for all.  He would show us how to not just survive, but how to thrive.

Ted Andrews writes that the essence of the Bison or Buffalo is “manifesting abundance through right action and right prayer.”

He goes on to acknowledges that the buffalo was (and remains) a symbol of sacred life and abundance to the Lakota people and that he teaches how to pray for and bring forth abundance.

You do not have to struggle to survive if the right action is joined to the right prayer, meaning that by uniting the mundane (the physical aspects and work of everyday life) with the divine (our dreams, our thoughts, our prayers), all that is needed will be made available.

The buffalo’s massive shoulders suggest that it is through our own hard work, in shouldering our responsibilities and making an effort that we will be rewarded.

We must meet the universe half way.

Alignment vs. Hustle allows you to step into your destiny.

When we join right action with right prayers, the path is not difficult and the way/the path opens and flows easily. This also speaks to the important but subtle difference between “hustling” (pushing for sales, advancement, achievement) and “aligning” to your true work/desire/nature.

This work of aligning with the universe should not feel difficult, for the buffalo is very powerful but he forces nothing.  Like water, the buffalo herd finds the easiest path across the plains.

And so buffalo aligns what you are doing with what you are asking for – without the hustle.  He aligns the prayer and the path, the work and the reward, the life in the present with the promise of the future.

All things will happen in the time, manner and means that is best for us if we allow it…and nothing, not even time, is wasted.

One of the most powerful ways to access buffalo medicine is through gratitude. 

In the past, instead of being grateful for all that I had (for my job, my family, my home, my health)  I was busy distracting myself from the real work by looking for predictions of my future, longing for outcomes that could only be mine if I used what I had, if I showed up to the work right in front of me, if I started with gratitude for all that had already been gifted to me.

If you hear the call to align rather than hustle, or if you suspect that you are not meeting the universe half way on the path to your destiny but aren’t sure what to do next, then I can help.

Join me in circle or work with me in private as we uncover your destiny or what you are being called to bring forth into the world, and how the lessons of the buffalo can assist you in manifesting your most fertile dreams and stepping into all your magnificent possibilities.

I’m ready when you are….

Xo Shona

 

Buffalo

is thundering love

slow pulsing energy

of the earth is the heart

the bringer of gifts

the mighty roar of hooves

the pounding, dusty rush of energy

shifts in the heart

the roaming guardian of the circle

the protector of presence

the smoke in the pipe

is power beyond measure

is truth

is proof of the “I am”

rides the plains in power and claims the big skies

sings of blood and bone, victory and longing

strength in the dirt of the work

how nothing is wasted

how we must stand in the ground where we become

where we become

the blood and the bone and the dust of our labour

where we are one

with the drumming heartbeat that calls

the potent power that breathes

that charges

into your slumbering intentions

Animals and Nature, Authenticity, Awakening, Mindfulness and Meditation, Mystery and Magic

Why your own unique way of being in the world is so important now

When I walk outside, whether it’s in the woods or just down the street, I make a point of noticing what animals show themselves to me.  I thank the many squirrels and sparrows and dogs I meet on the path daily, and although they might seem like mundane, run-of-the-mill creatures, I still acknowledge and am grateful for their presence and their message.

In the frame of mind of listening and watching then, of being receptive to who or what may cross my path, it is always such a delight when I see an animal that is unusual to my regular sightings.

Twice now when I have walked to the top of a ridge covered in trees, I have seen woodpeckers.  Two of them pileated woodpeckers, as big as crows, hammering their beaks like thunder on a hollow branch, making a noise like a tree coming down.  That got my attention!

They flew off then, and I was struck by the distinct way that they fly: they “fly and coast down, fly and coast down…(the woodpecker) flies in a manner and rhythm unique to itself” (Ted Andrews).

The second sighting was yesterday; on the same ridge I was greeted by a smaller woodpecker, not tapping but calling out to me, a piping call.  The woodpecker’s red head is easy to spot but I would have missed this one as she was so high up.

I try to pay attention to what exactly I am thinking about or what issues are consuming me in the moment I see an animal, because that’s part of their message. 

And I consider the unique energy and behaviours of the animal I am with, both in general and in its interaction with me in the moment.  This is how their energy can help us and guide us when we are out in nature, seeking stillness and looking for answers.

So both times when I spotted the woodpeckers (or they spotted me) I was debating about this very thing that I am doing now.  Writing and talking about my connection to nature.  About how it might attract but also repel some people, this kinship I have with animals.  About ways in recent weeks that I had unconsciously tried to dilute it, to push it to the background, to deny it or at least deny it’s expression.

I was avoiding talking or writing about it. I was trying not to announce it. I chose not to be authentic so that I would be more accessible to people.  So that I would be liked.

So that I would fit in and be accepted.

I know this is such a trap.  It creates an energy that has no authenticity.  It creates in me a sense of inner-crying as I deny a gift that on the surface seems to have no obvious place in the civilized world.

But the woodpecker was asking me to go beyond the surface, to tap into the deeper meaning that lies beneath.

Woodpecker knows the power of her own natural rhythms, she made a lot of noise on that ridge, she thundered as she beat out her own rhythm on that hollow tree. She was showing me herself in flight, flying in her own unique way, showing me how to go forth in the world as my own true self with no apologies.

I know that if I do not accept the reality of this gift and own it and celebrate it, then no one else can.

And I know that this gift is supposed to come forth into the modern world because that’s where it is needed.

The internal response to even a small refusal on my part to let this energy flow is immediate: I start to feel sorry for myself, I feel lost and empty.  And that’s when I know I’m on the wrong track.

And I return to my path with deep gratitude for the woodpecker, who literally reminded me to fly my own way – to be authentic – how to tap out the rhythm of the song in my heart, and beat the drum loudly.

If you would like to learn more about how to discern the messages that animals and nature long to share with you when you are outside, or in moments of stillness, or in your everyday life, I can help.

I would love to hear your stories and confirm with you that all of nature conspires to love and guide us, and that every animal carries a medicine and a message for us, if we are willing to listen.  

And, it would be my privilege to help you discover how the natural world may be nudging (or insisting!) that you answer the call to be yourself, and to share yourself and your gifts with the world.

xo Shona

 

Woodpecker

She has her own rhythm
She has her own rhythm
She knows the beating of her heart
She flies in swoops
She has her own rhythm
A drumming cadence
A song in the beat
In the beating heart
In the tap tap call
The insistent crack of
Bark the breaking
Into what was hollow
What lies beneath
The real rhythm
The real me
The real life
The real love
The force of
One who is awakened
By the drum
And she knows
And she stands
To be to be the beat
My own rhythm on the drum
To follow it to the end
She drums out the beat of a
Dark red dancer
Flashing between the trees
A thunder drummer
Daring me
To be
Stand this is me
Stand this is me

Animals and Nature, Authenticity, Awakening

How a Spider Woke me up to This Powerful, Essential Truth

This past summer I was lucky to able to spend some time on the shores of a small mountain lake in British Columbia.  One hot afternoon, as I paddled my kayak past the dock and out into open water, I discovered that I had a stowaway on board.  It was a spider.

I do not generally find spiders alarming, and so I observed what unfolded next with a sense of bemused curiosity.

I quietly watched her make her way up the paddle, and onto my hand. She then crawled up my arm and onto my shoulder and then along my neck, and that was when I started to find her distracting.  I confess that I did contemplate dropping her into the lake, where she would surely have drowned, but something made me hesitate.  She was so small and fragile after all.  So instead I gently moved her to the front of the kayak.

She stayed there for only a moment and then she headed back towards me. I watched her crawl along the side of the boat, onto the paddle and up my arm back to my shoulder, as if to say “pay attention.” She then moved purposefully down my torso and onto my leg and stopped at my knee.  And there, between my bent knees, she started making a web!

As often happens when I have an unexpected encounter with an insect or animal, I laughed.

And then, as you do, when kayaking with a spider, I closed my eyes and listened.

Floating on that quiet lake with the spider, I had a flash of insight.  In the silence I heard: “I am here at your knees because you are giving birth – to yourself.  And you need to tell the story of your rebirth — to write about it.”  And I remembered that for many people spider is a symbol of creativity, especially in the areas of writing and drawing, and also an ancient symbol of death and rebirth.

It has taken me these past months to fully understand what this encounter with spider was teaching me.

A spider woke me up to a powerful, essential truth

At that time, I had just left my full-time job and was working on building the structure of my new business and my new life – so I truly was birthing a new way of being for myself in the world and struggling to find my voice and vision.  And, just as I had tried to lay the spider aside and had even considered drowning her, so too had I attempted to lay aside and drown out my own desire to write.

I yearned for creative expression and yet I had been casting about looking for an outlet, bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t paint or play the piano when all along the answer was sitting right on my shoulder whispering “hello…writing”.

And it wasn’t just the recent avoiding of writing for my website or blog that I was faced with…it was the fact that I had been putting off writing for YEARS.

It took this most gentle and tenacious of creatures to crack open the door I had closed on the creative fire inside me, to remind me that in the call to be ourselves we must give our creative gifts expression, we must let our story and our voice be heard.

To be ourselves we must make space for creative expression. We must let our story and our voice be heard.

For a long time, I didn’t think my story mattered that much.  I didn’t think anyone would want to hear it or read about it.  Mine was an average life, my struggles too trivial or certainly too private to share. My writing surely only mediocre.

What spider showed me was that we are in fact every moment giving birth to our story. And it matters.

Ted Andrews asserts that “The spider awakens creative sensibilities and reminds us that the world is woven around us and through us… just as we are the keepers and the writers of our own thoughts, so too are we the keepers and writers of our own destiny”.

Inspiration longs to come through us, in all creative forms, to allow us to weave our story into the immense design of things.  It’s a way of marking our place in the world, and each and every story and the expression of that story is important.

If you can, take the advice of a small but mighty spider:  write, draw, dance your way into the creative rhythm of nature, weave the story of your life, step into your untapped creative powers and give birth to your future.

Do you hear the small yet persistent voice of your creative force calling you? Is it time to birth a new chapter of your life full of vibrancy and meaning but you’re not sure how or where to start? Would you like to better understand the messages that nature offers you every day?

Schedule a free call with me –  I am here to help and I look forward to hearing your story!

Shona

Animals and Nature, Awakening, Mindfulness and Meditation

There is No Way to Push the River

“There is no way to push the river…” Ralph Blum

This is the story of how I tried too hard to push the river. And how the river brought me back to peace.

Recently I have been insisting, waiting, really impatiently waiting, pushing myself and others to meet self-imposed deadlines that seem important.

I am guilty of trying to show the universe my calendar: “here’s my plan and my timelines, are you listening?” I have been praying with expectations, asking “when will I get?” instead of “what am I called to give?”

And so I have upset and hurt people, I have missed opportunities, I have insisted when I could have assisted.

On a larger scale I have blocked the flow of natural insight and opportunity that the universe always provides.

My default when I am upset is to get outside. I love to be out in nature, and I especially love to walk by the river that flows near my home and listen. Next to the river, I was able to quiet my desperate, grasping mind and gain insight into my dilemma.

I realized that because the work in front of me feels so important, I thought that I had better be in control, in charge of it, to guide and ensure the outcome. My need for control was so strong that an image sprang to my mind of me trying to hold back and redirect the river with my bare hands, my feet planted in the muddy riverbed, straining and pushing.

This made me laugh and as I sat watching the river flow by me I understood the great lesson of the river: I don’t need to try to control how this unfolds and carry it all to conclusion. I don’t need to strain and force and insist.

I cannot push the river, but I can instead “give it up to God” and let the river carry me.

I had forgotten how a river always takes the easiest, most obvious path to the sea.  Water knows that there is time and water does its slow and methodical work, cutting crevices and canyons out of mountains, turning boulders into beaches. Such is the slow power of water.

All in good time, water says. 

If you let go you will find that you have this power too. You have influence, you create ripples and you cannot know whom they will touch or when.

“…control is impossible. We stand in the world as in a great ocean. Who could manage or possess such power? The only way to keep from drowning is to ride the currents. The ocean will support us as long as we swim with the flow.” -Joan Bunning

One of the pitfalls of wanting to trust in the river and go with the flow is getting stuck in a place of inertia.  There are areas of the river that can flow in a dangerous circular motion, places where we feel apathetic and stuck and we can’t see the new horizons waiting for us further downstream.  We must meet the universe half way.

Trusting the river, the flow of life, doesn’t mean you don’t have dreams and goals and aspirations.  It doesn’t mean you sit back and wait. You do the work that is in front of you; you work with love on what needs to be done, with no expectation of the how or when or where the ripples of your thoughts and deeds will wash up on a new shore. This takes profound trust.

If you listen, you will hear the river inviting you in to play. To give up the stifling, heart-closing work of control and jump into a place of trust and freedom and joy.

We too are made of water; in fact, over 60% of our bodies are water.  The river can help you know that you are part of nature and its innate flow, to understand that everything will happen in its own perfect time and that the “work” of fulfilling your purpose will not be difficult.

You do not need to push the river.

If you let it, it will flow through you like a song in your veins and guide you to receive the promise of cool, fresh, undiluted love.

If you’re struggling to let go and jump into a new way of life, a new purpose, I’m here to help.

Together we can explore the joy of swimming in the river.

Shona