Honoring the Mother in Everyone

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The essence of Mother is to nourish and to be nourished. Our Mother Earth also satisfies and supports us as she envelopes us in the sweetness of life.” 

JamesWrapped in the protective womb of her body our Mother provides all the sustenance we need in order to fully form into a human being. Then, at the moment of our birth, we lock eyes with our mother, solidifying our very first relationship. Intertwined in the process of interpreting and meeting our physical needs, Mother, with her coos, ‘oos’, and ‘ahs’ reassures us with a sense of inner security. Our Mother sees to it we were cared for, quickly learning how to interpret our various cries and to satisfy our needs whether through food, attention, or a clean bottom.

The archetype of Mother is powerful and complex. Ideally, Mother offers us the freedom to explore our own power through the responsibility of making our own choices. She knows that making decisions provides opportunities to create lessons of wisdom through trial and error. Carefully she guides us in navigating the delicate balance between independence and interconnectedness. She does this, all the while enveloping us in her love and her cooking, safe in our contented home.

Mother is our sacred empatica (Italian, feminine singular empath). She understands us in the most intimate of ways, knowing us body, heart, and spirit. Mother, as our holy witness, hears us in a manner that allows us to speak our deepest emotional truths. To be present as a holy witness for another is mothering on a most sacred level.

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Sadly, some of us may have had mothers who have fallen woefully short of these qualities. We may have suffered terribly at the hands of the person we counted on most as a child. Or, perhaps as mothers ourselves, illness or emotional and spiritual malnutrition may have prevented us from giving fully to our children, or giving to them at all.

“We are all mothers and we all need mothering. We are all created out of our mother’s body.”

Our relationships with our mother are complicated. They can be fraught with both admiration and frustration. Men and women alike learn their mothering skills through of their mother’s example. More than likely, we have subconsciously adapted our Mother’s coping skills, we may imitate or completely reject the ways our Mom got her needs met.

But in order to create more balanced Mother relationships we must first determine the terrain of our relationship by holding it up to the divine light of truth. We must be willing to see our mother relationships exactly as they are, not just how we wish them to be or filled with the bitter disappointment of their lack.

The truth is most mothers are neither perfect nor perfectly horrible. Our mothering talents may likely fall somewhere in between June Cleaver, the perfect 1960’s TV mom, and Procne, the Greek goddess who killed her child out of vengeance and served him up for dinner to her husband.

Consider your relationship with your mother. Do you idealize your mother, refusing to admit to any faults to her mothering? Or, do you hold your mother to impossibly high standards, ones that she cannot possibly live up to? Do you expect more from her than she has the capacity to give?

To acknowledge our need for mothering, and then to lovingly tend to that need, creates a grounded sense of home within our bodies. This grounding instills a sense of inner satisfaction where there is little desire to manipulate nurturing from others others.

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We will generously offer our mothering skills, when and where they are needed most. Consequently, with our hearts fully nourished, we can graciously receive the nurturing, support, and understanding offered, not only by our mothers, but by our partners, families, and communities.

Take a few moments this Mother’s Day to honor someone, blood-related or not,  female or male, who has generously given of their time and resources to offer you some much-needed mothering. Also take time to show your gratitude to Mother Earth for all she has given to keep us healthy, happy, and alive.  And finally, extend a little mothering toward those most in need of a tender touch, a nourishing meal, or a listening, compassionate heart. This world will be better for it.

Much Love and Grace,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

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Making Friends with Your Emotions

Anole

The following is excerpted from my upcoming book, Soul of the Seasons…

I have always felt my world intensely—some might even say, theatrically. I’ve even been called a “drama queen” a time or two. Though the reasons for emotional reactivity are varied and complex, I have worked hard to become a master of my emotional responses rather than a hyper-reactive slave to them. Mastery, of course, is always a work in progress.

As a result of my intense emotional expressiveness I have often been labeled “too sensitive,” or over-reactive, that I’m an attention-seeker. One idea I have always resisted, however, is that emotional expression, however intense, is inappropriate. From my perspective, I simply refused to have my feelings ignored, dismissed, or discounted. In the past, if anyone so much as hinted that I was being “too emotional,” that I should “calm down,” I promptly emoted all over everything and everyone. No reactivity there, right?

When we were little and cute we were more graciously allowed to freely emote in response to our world. Adults might have even found our emotional expressions amusing and perfectly normal. We giggled and frowned, we earnestly cried out our sadness and bitterness and grief. We might have pitched fits of anger when our outer world refused to respond to our inner needs.

At some point—for some of us, painfully early in life—in response to our emotional expressions we were likely told to “grow up” or “settle down” or be “good.” We may have been taught that good girls should not express anger but instead smile and look pretty. We may have been told that big boys shouldn’t cry or show vulnerability. “Shake it off!” might have been the prescribed response to pain and hurt, any anything less showed weakness—something to be avoided at all costs.

“Boys must never be weak,” is a message that is still imprinted in our psyche. When expressing strong emotion we might have even been spanked or called names like “crybaby” or “sissy” or “bitch.” My childhood was filled with messages not so different from these.

There is woefully little sacred space for the expression of authentic emotion in our culture. Instead of being initiated into the wonderful world of emotion when we are young, we learned to judge (or discount or dismiss) our feelings. We may have learned to criticize them as bad, wrong, or inappropriate instead of shining the light of truth onto the nature of our emotional responses. Instead of authentically feeling and then releasing emotion, we have trained the mind to analyze difficult situations. We move away from uncomfortable feelings and make more “rational” decisions.

In our need to detach from our discomfort we often explain away or “spiritualize” our emotions. (Love is the only answer!) We may come to believe that calm (read emotionless) rationalization is far superior to honestly expressing our emotions as they arise. However, our more challenging emotional states—especially those we label “bad” or “negative”—are really invitations to make choices that are in keeping with our Divine Destiny.

Fire spread2For instance, our anger and frustration with life’s challenges can be transformed into the emotional and physical fuel necessary to carry out our vision. Our deep longing for joy can transform the pain and loneliness of a broken heart into the deep connection that lies within authentic relationship. Indifference or a lack of nurturing can be transformed into a more grounded appreciation for our talents and accomplishments. Our hurt and anger over being disrespected can be transformed into a much-needed time of reflection and the opportunity for rebirth.  Fears over an uncertain future can transform into the birth of new visions. And so it goes with the cycles of life, the energy and wisdom of one season feeds and nourishes the next.

Our core emotions of grief, anger, and fear are not character flaws to be pounded into submission or doggedly eliminated. They are part of our holy human state. Our emotions possess sacred medicine, a medicine that helps us to move with authenticity and integrity through the seasons of life. With a willingness to become vulnerable to our humanity and our emotions, we can learn to live with more grace, kindness, and tenderness for all, and most especially, for ourselves.

Our bodies possess an innate intelligence that is infused into our very cells. Each cell is encoded with the capacity transmit information. Our cells not only have their own awareness they also possess awareness of all other bodily cells, and, of the surrounding environment. This sophisticated system of internal (and external) intelligence through cellular communication provides the capacity to function without continually engaging in active conscious thought—that, would be exhausting. Fortunately, we do not have to continually remind our heart how to beat or our lungs to take a breath.

Our cells also possess emotional memory that can activate visceral responses to certain smells, sounds, or circumstances. These stimuli have the ability to trigger powerful emotional experiences anchored in the past. It’s why, though Grandma may have died five years ago, the smell of cinnamon rolls evokes the same feelings of comfort we experienced while sitting in her kitchen, or how the sound of a train whistle can stir up the loneliness we felt when Dad left us decades ago.

Recognizing the physical resonances unique to each emotion can help us become more responsive to the circumstances at hand, instead of reacting out of impulse. And when we pay close attention to our emotional signals we can more easily identify what we are feeling in the moment—the only place we have the ability to make a choice. With this conscious awareness we can then more artfully navigate the difficult seasons, and appreciate the more inviting ones. We can more effectively meet our unmet needs instead of repressing or self-medicating our feelings away.

Your emotions have much to teach you. Introduce yourself to them. Consider them as living beings with whom you will interact with the utmost love and respect. Be willing to learn how each core emotion moves, motivates, and inspires you. Re-contextualize yourself to your anger, joy, sympathy, grief, and fear. Be willing to see them from a different light. Develop an intimacy with the places where you feel most vulnerable. Let your heart break wide open to your anger—and, to your joy. Learn to dance with both your generosity, and your loss. Make a sacred space for your emotions in your life, a place of belonging that is free of judgment.

Food for Thought:

How do you express yourself emotionally?

Which emotion are you most afraid of?

Which emotion are you most comfortable with?

How do you move with anger? With joy?

With Blessings and Grace,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

Three Keys to Transformation

May you welcome your own vulnerability as the ground where healing and truth joins.” – from the poem, “A Blessing for the One Who Holds Power” by  John O’Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us

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I have always been fascinated with the concept of transformation. Recently I performed a search in the amazon.com online books section  for the word “transformation.” (Some might call this sort of activity time-wasting or dawdling, but we writers call it research!)

My search came up with 45,409 results in thirty-eight categories with “Politics and Social Sciences” as the category with the most hits at 5,575. The second highest number of hits was in the category of “Religion and Spirituality” with 5,566. I guess we are looking for transformation a lot in politics and religion these days. The other categories listed under my “transformation” search ranged from “Cookbooks” (82 hits) to “Law” (450 hits) to “Engineering & Transportation” (1,722). The category with the least number of hits was in the fiction category of “Epic Fantasy” with fifty. Transformation is a very popular topic, indeed.

During the course of my research I discovered a lot of books touting the “Ten Secret Keys…” or “Five Essential Steps…” to transformation. They promised the reader everything from financial success to a new love life. I will venture to say that few, if any, list what I have found to be the three essential keys to transformation: Vulnerability. Accountability. Authenticity.

I know, the idea of becoming vulnerable isn’t sexy. A subsequent search for the word “vulnerability” in the book section of amazon.com netted exactly forty-six results. Six of them were books by author and researcher Brené Brown, PhD, a groundbreaking researcher on the subjects of shame and vulnerability, and, whose books I would highly recommend.

Numerous hits from my “transformation” search yielded results that promised to “eliminate negativity” or “prevent you from walking in circles.” Oh my. The whole thrust of my upcoming book Soul of the Seasons is to encourage you to walk in circles! But back to the subject of vulnerability.

The key to transformation, many authors will claim, lies in such nebulous instruction as following your bliss, mastering your ego, or embracing gratitude. Though it’s true that those who are emotionally resilient in life–those more able to express joy and happiness–have created a space of gratitude in their lives,  I have not found gratitude to be the key to transformation so much as a byproduct of it. What I have found, is that within nearly every instance of transformation, lays a willingness to be vulnerable, a commitment to being accountable for one’s actions, and living a life of deep authenticity.

Let’s look the first key to transformation:  Much like the words “submission” or “surrender,” when we hear the word vulnerability, we think: weak, unprotected, disempowered—and who wants to go there? But the willingness to become vulnerable to our emotions and experiences—a willingness to surrender to our experience, is key to transforming our emotional states and, our lives.

In order to fall in love we must first become vulnerable to intimacy with another. In order to empathize with another we must become willing to be vulnerable to our own frailties and neediness. In order to fully acknowledge the precious nature of our loss, we must become vulnerable to our grief. In order to start a new business or project we must become vulnerable to the unknown, to taking a risk.

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In becoming vulnerable to our emotions–both their light and dark sides–we can assess our motivations and unmet needs in the light of divine truth. Illuminated by the this divine truth, we can become accountable for our actions, and then respond with greater authenticity to the matters at hand.

By meeting the seasons of life with these three keys; vulnerability, accountability and authenticity, we can respond to whatever flows our way with grace and resilience, rather than continually reacting to (or recovering from) the inevitable challenges we all face.

For example, when we accurately perceive the roots of our anger issues we can address any boundary violations or injustices before they erupt into full-blown meltdowns. As we become more vulnerable to joy, our hearts strengthen and expand. We will not only love more deeply, we can also receive more love. When we take responsibility for nurturing ourselves on all levels, we are less likely to manipulate others to get our needs met. When we learn to honor and respect our grief, we can then offer compassion to those in the midst of their own grief. When we face our fears and enter the stillness, we can hear the wisdom that calls to us and, we are less likely to spin out of control with anxious, fearful thoughts.

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“Just as the seasons flow in a continuous progression, moving from one season to the next in a regular rhythm, so are our emotions meant to move and transform our lives with fluidity. They reveal our strength and our vulnerability, our courage and our reticence, our generosity and our need to withhold.

“We are created with a full spectrum of emotions for a very good reason. For instance, without the guiding energy of anger we might fail to set or restore boundaries—or to respect the boundaries of others. Without joy we would lose the rich and heart-felt experience of connection. Lacking sympathy, we can fail to understand and attend to the plight of others. Without grief, we become frozen in our loss, unable to truly value what we once loved so dearly. Without fear, we can lose the ability to perceive danger or to respond to our fears from a place of intuitive wisdom.

 “In order to decipher the wisdom embedded within our emotions, however, we must first become intimately acquainted with them—all of them. We must come to experience the depth of our grief as well as we know the expansiveness of joy. We must both illuminate the darkness of our anger and the brilliance of our generosity. We must be willing to explore our deep-seated fears of survival, death, and the unknown. In short, to fully master a higher way of being in the world, we must become familiar with both the light and the dark side of our emotions. Without emotional awareness, it is easier to be buffeted about life’s seasons, rudderless and powerless to affect true change.” –from Soul of the Seasons by Melody A Scout (c) 2015

With Blessings and Grace,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

I Surrender!

In the small church where I grew up we often sang the old hymn I Surrender All written by Judson W. vanDeventer back in 1896. Back then I didn’t have a clue to what this hymn really meant, the song seemed so slow and out-dated. Now I know the depth of courage it takes to completely surrender everything in your life to God. So often we are completely broken before we reach out and speak these words and mean it from the depths of our soul.

I used to be terrified to pray the prayer of surrender. What if I didn’t like what happened? What if things couldn’t go back to the way they were? What if people left me? What if I left them? What if I failed–again? Full surrender is a quiet place of deep power but path to this quiet place is rocky and filled with the struggle to maintain control. Often we are literally brought to our knees. Sadness, grief, loss, pain, rage, fear, and betrayal all sit heavy upon our hearts, awaiting our submission. But, in my belief that I can handle it all myself, I struggle a little longer. I try to see if I can work it out myself, if I can master this crisis of heart and spirit on my own. My mind wants to triumph, to win, to beat my troubles into submission–to DO SOMETHING!

Often only when I have completely exhausted myself and I am faced with the evidence that all my efforts are futile, do I surrender all. It’s generally in our best interest to surrender or, as author and speaker Marianne Williamson puts it, “Often our last resort is often our best resort.”

Today I pray the prayer of surrender more regularly. I still don’t come to it easily. It’s difficult for me to give up my will and sense of control to The Divine. Often, I’m still brought to my knees in need before I can submit to the vulnerability of asking for help, a state of willingness to release the thing with which I struggle. Sometimes I recognize I’m not so willing to let go, so I pray to become willing. Sometimes the best I can to is to surrender my unwillingness to God. Sometimes the best I can do is pray, ‘I’m willing to be willing.’ But, amazingly this prayer always, always works, usually within 24 hours. The world may not magically tilt on it’s axis for my personal benefit, but something transpires within my soul. It may be only the slightest glimmer of light, a flash so brief that my mind cannot even formulate a meaning, but it’s enough to remind me that all is not lost.

In this season of late fall, Nature reminds me of the wisdom of surrendering all to God. Trees surrender to the coming season of winter by withdrawing sap from it’s leaves, allowing them to fall to the earth where they become the rich compost that feeds the soil. A good portion of the sap is directed back down into the roots, far below the surface and the harsh elements. If a tree refused to heed the approaching winter, Nature’s call to let go, to surrender, the sap retained in its limbs and branches would split the tree from stem to stern during the frozen months.

Like the tree in fall, it’s not in my best interest to hold onto anything, even what I might think is the “good stuff.” In the past few years it seems I am letting go at an astonishing rate. Dreams. Relationships. Possessions. Thoughts. Beliefs. Ideas and ideals. I’m called to surrender my disappointment in things not turning out the way I’d hoped. To surrender my grief and rage over the desecration of the earth and the injustices in Ferguson and Staten Island and countless other tragedies throughout the world. All are tossed onto my soul’s ever-growing compost heap. I wonder what might be left of me. Will I even recognize myself? I don’t know. Many times my mind is too tired to parse it out. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my spirit, I have an inclination that knows that it will all be OK. And, this is enough to sustain me for today.

Blessings,

Melody Harris

Soul of the Seasons by Melody Harris (c) 2014

I Surrender All

All to Jesus I surrender;

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live.

Refrain: I surrender all,

I surrender all;

All to Thee, my blessed Savior,

I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Humbly at His feet I bow,

Worldly pleasures all forsaken;

Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel the Holy Spirit,

Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power;

Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Now I feel the sacred flame.

Oh, the joy of full salvation!

Glory, glory, to His Name!

With Love and Grace,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

Why I Write

Recently, a friend interested in putting down some of their stories asked me to tell her about the writing process. What follows is some guidance I offered on what a writer (or artist) encounters during the process of making their art.
So, you want to be a writer? Easy Peasy.
Writing is easy.jpg     First, Getting started:  Though you’re jazzed about your subject you probably won’t know where to start, and once you get started you won’t know where to end. (I once had a tee shirt that said, “Help! I’m writing and I can’t shut up!”) You might hem and haw for weeks, or a few years, before you actually put down a single sentence.
     If you’re writing non-fiction you can look forward to hours of research and a lot of what you find will be conflicting or misleading or just plain goofy. 
     If you’re writing fiction your characters will amuse, befuddle, infuriate, scare, fascinate, sadden, and delight you. They will keep you up at night, whispering their stories into your ear. You might even start talking about them to others as if they’re troubled friends you can’t puzzle out. You might start to ask random questions of friends and family that will give them pause like, “If you hid a body in a manure pile would anyone notice the stink?” or “How many people do you think you could have affairs with at the same time without getting caught?”
When you finish your story you will likely be both sad and relieved to see your characters go.
Unless you’re committed to a life of clean living, you will likely consume lots of coffee and adult beverages and take up cussing. If you don’t already, you might consider starting. While writing you might forget to eat or shave or get dressed–sometimes for days. Those unfamiliar with the creative process might tell you to get a job or a date or a therapist.
     During the revision process you will probably chuck whole paragraphs or pages or chapters. (I’ve completely rewritten the beginning of my book four times and I once abandoned an entire 350 page novel.) You will face periods wondering if you have anything new or unique to say. If you’re lucky enough to have an good editor he/she will make you want to simultaneously praise, weep, hug, and slap them. 
    Friends or family to whom you have eagerly given your work for feedback might frown or stammer or shrug. They might tell you that you have a nice hobby but not to quit your day job. They might shake their heads and tell you they don’t get it, or worse yet, they might refuse to read it at all. Agents and publishers alike may repeatedly (and sometime cruelly) reject you and/or your work. 
     Frustrated and disillusioned and filled with self-doubt you might throw your manuscript into a drawer (or bury it in the bowels of your computer) for months, maybe even years. Your fears will have you wondering if you have anything of value to offer anyone, ever.
     If you keep at it, however, with the help and support of writer’s groups and trusted friends, you just might discover that you have fallen in love with your craft. You’ll love the magic and the mystery of creating a story that takes you to places you’ve always dreamed of going, and to dark passages you swore you’d never enter. You’ll come to love the uncertainty and the excitement and the grief and the joy. You will find deep satisfaction in telling your own story, in your own words. You might even feel more alive than you’ve ever felt before.
     And, you will know that you’re really, really committed to your craft when you gladly subject yourself to all of this and more, and couldn’t imagine yourself doing anything else. You do it because finding your voice through writing allows (sometimes forces) you to look at the world through different eyes, that it has matured and softened you in the best possible way. 
     
     When you have finally completed your work and released it out into the world, you will likely to never have worked so hard on anything in your life. And, you would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
This is why I write.

Shifting Seasons

DSCF2895One of the most challenging times on our journey can be when we begin to leave one season and enter the next. During these in-between passages our internal and external landscapes are changing. There are periods of adjustment. In the natural world the days are growing longer (or shorter). The plants and trees are changing. The air smells different. Internally we are changing too. It may seem as though we have a foot in two worlds or that we have no solid footing at all.

Currently in the U. S. we are in the season of fall. Here in Northwest Florida, we are just beginning to feel Fall’s effects. The cooler weather has been a welcome relief from the humid, 90 degree days we’ve been having up to now. It feels good to leave our windows open and our air conditioners off. In Northern Wisconsin, where I was born and raised and, where my children and grandchildren still live, they’ve already enjoyed their first snowfall.

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As I work to finish the revisions of my book Soul of the Seasons so I can send it off to my talented editor to do her magic, I too, feel a new season ahead for me. I’m excited with the thoughts of finally seeing my six-year labor of love delivered into the material world, an instrument that I can finally hold in my hands and share with others. I look forward to teaching again, to have book signings and conduct workshops on the valuable wisdom I have gleaned from working deeply with the seasons.

Five Element medicine, the impetus for my book, teaches us that the seasons are not static passage of time. Though the seasonal equinoxes may be marked on our calendars, the seasons themselves are fluid and over-lapping. It may have seemed that a particular season has arrived abruptly and without warning. But if we are paying attention , we can probably admit we have already sensed the coming shifts. It is no different in our inner world.

Leaving Harvest, the season of abundance and gratitude for all we have been given, we enter Fall, the season great letting go. Fall is where we find value, where we respect those things that are precious to us, and, where we let go of anything that no longer serves. It is a time to acknowledge our grief over the loss of something  or something that was dear to us. It is a time to prepare for the quiet rest of Winter.

One of the most challenging times on our journey can be when we begin to leave one season and enter the next. During these in-between passages our internal and external landscapes may seem unstable. There are periods of adjustment. In the natural world the days are grow longer (or shorter). The plants and trees are changing. The air smells different. Internally we are changing too. It may seem for a while as though we have a foot in two worlds, or that we have no solid footing at all. In the natural world, anything that does not serve toward surviving the winter months is released.

During these seasonal transitions it’s more important than ever to maintain balance, to give extra care to our emotional and physical bodies. To look ahead and prepare. This may be one of the reasons many people react to seasonal changes by becoming ill.

We often go along in life as if the next season is not approaching. We might allow ourselves to be lulled by warm weather, unwilling to turn our minds and bodies toward the coming cold and darkness of Winter. We might even become grumpy and morose knowing that the warm days of summer are behind us, that we will have to change our way of moving about in the world, that we will have to drag our our heavy clothes and slow down.

Our ancestors could not afford the luxury of ignoring the coming seasons, often their very existence relied on well-timed readiness.  Many cultures engaged in ceremonies and rituals to celebrate the coming seasons. Rituals are conscious action intended to remind us of something we value.

So, what if instead of ignoring the coming winter, we prepared for the coming passages in both our inner and outer worlds through contemplation and preparation? Hygge is one such a tradition. Pronounced “hoo-ga,” hygge is a Danish concept. It cannot be translated to one single word but encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. Or, ask your elders what family traditions might have been kept at this time of year.

The following are a few suggestions on how one might celebrate Fall and welcome in the coming season of Winter:

Prepare your body for Winter. Start by including some of your favorite cold weather foods and beverages. Include warming herbs and spices into the mix like ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon.

Begin now to slow your pace. Go for a relaxing walk in nature. Take naps. Go to bed a little earlier. Reserve more time for contemplation. Ask your body what it needs.

Examine your inner and outer landscapes for what is truly of value and, for anything that needs to be released. Whether it is a pair of old socks or a friendship that has run its course, release it with a heartfelt gratitude for all you have received by their presence.

Create a ritual for welcoming in Winter. Share a beer or two with friends at your favorite pub or make a big pot of chili for the family. Whether you hold a ceremony and dance by the moonlight or have a cup of cocoa by the fireplace, honor, respect, and value all you have been given.

Take care of any unfinished business from Fall. We often prepare in our outer world by winterizing our homes and your cars. What need to be attended to in your inner world? Is there any unfinished grieving to be done? Are you honoring and respecting all that you are and all that you will become? Do you have someone to forgive? Make your burdens as light as possible in order that your passage through Winter might be more bearable.

Share your abundance with others. We can help to build strength and resilience in the world, whether it’s through giving our excess winter clothes to the homeless or sharing our heart of compassion with another in need. By giving to others out of our bounty we build strong communities and they, in turn, also strengthen and nourish us.

I wish you a rich and contented Fall and a cozy Winter.

With Love,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

Fall: The Season to Let Go, A Season to Forgive

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From my upcoming book Soul of the Seasons

“Following the sumptuous season of Harvest comes Fall; the time for gathering up what is of value, and the letting go of that which no longer serves. There is much to be done in this brief season. Fall is the time to take stock of all that we have received, to recognize the value of our talents and, to fully appreciate the results of all our hard work. It is also the season to deftly assess that which is no longer of value in order to make more room for what is most precious to us in our lives and our hearts.

“Fall is the season where we learn to fully grieve. It is represented by the sound of weeping, the sound one makes during times of deep loss. Grief, the natural emotion in Fall, represents a great letting go. For what brings about our grief more than having to let go of something or someone we deeply valued?”

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Forgiveness: The Ultimate Expression of Letting Go

Forgiveness is the ultimate, platinum-grade experience of letting go. It is an act of grace that unties me from the belief that my experience is me. I am not my pain and loss. I am not my shame or inadequacy, my anger or my resentment. I am not a victim. I am not irretrievably broken. I am not what I have lost. Forgiveness doesn’t make everything all A-OK again. It does not require that I admit that what happened to me was right or that it made sense or that it was divinely orchestrated. Instead, forgiveness turns my heart of stone into one that is once again open to love.” –Melody

 

Encoded within the season of Fall is another precious gift that can only be described as an act of divine grace: the experience of forgiveness. While not traditionally thought of as an aspect of Fall in Five Element medicine, I have included forgiveness here because, much the same as the emotion of grief, forgiveness doesn’t require that we forget our pain or the event that led us to it in order to benefit from its gifts.

The practice of forgiveness has long been entangled with confusing and conflicting familial, cultural, and religious myths. Maybe we were taught to say “sorry” quickly, before we had enough time to express our feelings or figure out the infraction for which we were truly regretful. Maybe we have been told that withholding forgiveness is a “sin.” Perhaps we were goaded to rush past our pain and admonished to “leave the past in the past.” Others may have reminded us that it is spiritually and morally superior to “forgive and forget.”

Standing as uncomfortable witnesses to our pain, others may chastise us for a reluctance to sweep away the evidence of our wounds. A rush to “forgive and forget,” however, can serve to bypass and suppress the grief, pain, and anger that often accompanies loss and betrayal. The one asking for (or manipulating or demanding)  our forgiveness may have their own unspoken agenda. Perhaps they are really seeking some sort of absolution or mercy or a deliverance from the consequences of their hurtful actions.  They may even drag spiritual righteousness into the mix. . .“Well, at least God forgives me!” But if the act of forgiving were so easy it would be meaningless to both the forgiver and the forgiven. . .

“Oh, geez. Sorry I verbally eviscerated you in front of your family. My bad. All better? Off we go then.”

It is never easy to forgive those who have wronged us. It is even harder to ask for it. For in the asking, we must enter into the land of vulnerability, humility, and accountability. Asking another to forgive us requires that we to admit to God, and to another human being; “I was wrong. I hurt you. I’m sorry.” and then to ask, “How can I make this right again?” A determined effort to correct the behaviors that led to the destructive actions must also be a part of the equation of reparation. We must also be willing to give those we have wounded the necessary time to fully comprehend their loss. HINT: The more severe the infraction, the longer it will likely take.

Though forgiveness is not meant to be easy, neither are we meant to cling to our unforgiveness. One of the single most toxic and self-destructive things we can ever do is to stubbornly refuse to let go of whom or what we believe is the source of our pain and suffering. While understandable, these actions are ultimately self-destructive. On the physical level, vigorously defending or protecting our hurt, anger, and pain releases an array of hormones and brain chemicals that poison both body and thoughts. We may stew in the toxicity of our hurt for literally decades, hating those we believe are at fault.

“Our job now (following the death of their son at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting) is to make our hearts bigger than the loss.” -David and Francine Wheeler, parents of Ben, age 6, on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday

To be true, some deep wounds may be nigh impossible for our hearts to fathom. It is hard to wrap our minds around the level of cruelty or betrayal or violence that has been perpetrated upon us, or upon our loved ones, or too often, by our loved ones. We may be stupefied at the level of hate and indifference that is all too evident in this world. We cannot imagine of how anyone with even the remotest sense of decency or compassion or brain cells could be so cruelly destructive to another being.

Enmeshed in the pain of our wounds we may wonder. . .  What kind of person would harm a child or torture an animal or slowly and methodically chip away at our innate sense of worthiness? Who would want to poison our water and soil, to desecrate the very Earth that gives us life? Who would willingly end the lives of innocents out of religious fanaticism or greed or the need for power? But the daily evidence of these atrocities lies at our feet, bruised and bleeding, or worse. How, we may wonder, can we possibly forgive that?

It’s true, in and of ourselves, we cannot grasp the possibility of forgiveness for such heinous acts. Forgiving requires that we let go of the judgment we have placed upon the situation, our self, or upon others who might have been involved in the experience that wounded us, and that can only be accomplished through the divine alchemy of grace. Only through authentic, grace-filled forgiveness can the sharp manacles of our wounds drop from our wrists, freeing us from the guilt, shame, hopelessness, depression, and despair that binds us to our trauma. The only thing required from us in order to forgive is to surrender–everything we are experiencing. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not on your life.

As we entertain the idea of forgiveness we can begin to soften to the warmth of Divine Love. Instead of continuing to marinate in our bitterness or maintain a desire for righteous revenge, our hearts gradually open. Our healing may allow us to summon the courage to confess the depth of our loss and pain. In the aftermath of trauma, our brittle spirits remain raw and tender. During this period we must tend to our fragile hearts as we would a tender seedling before the harshness of winter has passed.  We will never forget our loss or its aftermath–nor should we–but we can still find forgiveness to both strengthen and soften the most deeply scarred of hearts.

The transformation that comes about as a result of forgiveness is a wonderment to behold. Anyone who has been through this experience can tell you the magical quality of forgiveness or from having been completely forgiven. We feel somehow lighter, freer. We can breathe. We see daylight again. We might lose our desire to suffer, to hate, to exact our personal “pound of flesh.” Our desire for justice will begin to broaden beyond our individual loss and supplants the need for personal revenge.

Often, it is only on the other side of the difficult passage of forgiveness that we are able offer respect and compassion to those going through their own loss. If we choose to let it, our loss can teach us a deep and abiding respect for the fragility of life, a respect that values our strengths, as well as our frailties.

Forgiveness, like the mystical moments of death and birth, is a process in which we can face, both the end of how we once believed ourselves to be, and the beginning of who were meant to be. As a result of this unshackling we become freed from the heavy cloak of our guilt, hurt, and shame. And, though we may be reminded by the sages to love our enemies, they say nothing about having to like our offenders, or their deeds. We do not have to lay our hearts at the feet of those who have wounded us. We can say to our transgressors, “I forgive you, but I cannot trust you. ” We do not have to loan them money or invite them over for dinner or introduce them to our friends to prove we have really done a proper job of letting go. After all, to ignore another’s unloving proclivities would not be making good use of the wisdom our experience offers—that would be a failure to value and honor our loss. Through the grace of forgiveness, we can forget just enough to get on with life and to begin to love again, but not so much that we repeat the errors of the past.

DSCF7417aThe act of forgiveness is ultimately an exercise in divine alchemy. It is a sacred act of grace that changes the way our brain and heart functions; a correction at the highest spiritual level that cleanses our very soul. Through a complete and utter surrender to divine transformation, our wounds and spirits can be cleansed. By washing our newly cleansed wounds in the holy waters of forgiveness, we are able to bind them up with love and compassion, so they may begin to properly heal.” — From Soul of the Seasons, (c) 2017, Melody A Scout

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

Our Violence Calls

DSCF7428aI awoke today in the dark pre-dawn hours to the news of the Las Vegas shootings. A familiar and heavy pain in my heart deepened as I groaned, “Not again!” I scanned my social media accounts over my morning coffee, scrolling through comments that have become heartbreakingly commonplace: “When will it be enough?” “What is wrong with this country?” “How bad does it have to get?”

Amid posts filled with heated debates over ineffectual gun laws, rampant hatred, and mental illness rise the cries of hearts like mine, those that have grown weary of these all too familiar tragedies. We want something to be done. The ache of loss and grief has become too great. We pray for it to just please… stop.

Anger surfaces. We wonder why our leaders, while mouthing their regrets, do nothing to stem these terrible violent massacres of our brothers and sisters. Still, we summon the grace to offer up prayers of sympathy and support, to find deep compassion for all who are impacted by yet another horrific display of violence. I search my heart for meaningful solutions but any answer that comes seems woefully inadequate.

Perhaps the answers we search for often come up short because the violence we see on a daily basis is the result of many, many years of oppression and emotional suppression. There are few safe places where we can admit to our anger and hatred and desire for revenge. We often find little generosity to express our neediness and feelings of inadequacy. We may lack the courage to admit just how much we resent our demanding children, our indifferent partners, our needy parents. With little tolerance for our aching exhaustion or acrid bitterness or the bottomless grief, we shove these unwelcome thoughts and feelings deep into our subconscious. In an effort to soothe our ever-expanding fears our minds want simple, straightforward answers, though our hearts know that none exist.

It frustrates me to no end to admit I do not have satisfactory answers for these complex, layered issues that have been centuries in the making. The causes of violence are complex and charged with emotion. In order to continue to put one foot in front of the other and continue to live a meaningful life I must enter my inner landscape and to honestly confront  my feelings regarding these events that triggers so much grief and rage and sorrow. I must become aware of the dark emotions as well as the light ones. I must both find my joy, and confront my own violent thoughts. I must learn to embrace all of me. I must face whatever this violence calls out in me.

We are emotional beings. Though we often pride ourselves on our ability to reason things out, 95% of our decisions are made for emotional reasons. Little happens in life without either an emotional impetus or an emotional reaction. Yet we remain strangers to our rich inner landscapes.

Here’s what I know about the dynamics of emotion:

All emotion calls for expression. Emotions by their nature demand movement (expression). Whether we express our emotions in balanced or imbalanced ways depends upon our relationship with them; in how we have embraced them, or abandoned them.

Suppression always causes imbalance. The minute we begin to suppress or judge or deny any emotion, we drive our feelings into the dark recesses of our fearful minds where they fester and become caustic.

Disavowing our suppressed emotions separates us from our power. When we cannot or will not own our dark thoughts–the ones where we carry a secret desire for revenge or hatred or punishment or indifference, we remain impotent in affecting a change. Since all emotion demands expression, our denied dark thoughts are destined to erupt–either internally or externally–with varying levels of intensity, the most extreme of which is violence. When we cannot or will not confront our denied emotions we often take out our unresolved feelings on those we love the most.

Expressing our emotions requires the courage to become vulnerable.  We all need a sacred witness to our pain. The most courageous thing we will ever do is to admit to ourselves, to God, and to another human being the truth of our darkest feelings. This should never be done casually, however, or without assurance that who we reveal our failings to has the integrity to hold our confession in confidence with a compassion that is free of judgement.

Having compassion does not condone action. We can find compassion for another soul whose heart has been crushed beneath the weight of their destructive behaviors without absolving them of the responsibility for their actions. We can also do this for ourselves.  We must learn to tenderly love our most wounded selves while being fully accountable for our words and actions. One way of creating peace in our hearts is to offer a means for restoration for the harm we may have caused others.

Forgiveness is the key to compassion. Forgiveness is a deep letting go of our attachment to our pain. It is not the absolution of another’s hurtful actions. It does not mean that our pain was not valid or that our heart was not wounded. Forgiveness unties us from the belief that we are our painful past. To forgive ourselves is the most courageous and healing thing we will ever do.

We are not meant to heal alone. At times, the weight of our shame, bitterness, rage, grief, and fear can be crushing . Loneliness amplifies the burdens we carry. We can feel shunned and unloved, that we don’t belong. It may seem as if there is no way out of our darkness and we slip further into despair. Without others to offer compassion and encouragement or to present another perspective to our problems, it’s easier to entertain thoughts of harm to ourselves or others. One of the most courageous things we will ever do is to ask for help. The next most courageous thing we can do is to offer help to another in need, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us.

DSCF7799aPerhaps the thing we need the most to quell the explosion of violence in our communities is the thing we need the most in ourselves: To be heard. To be seen. To be honored. To be understood. To be loved. To belong.

Perhaps what we need during these very trying times is to examine the ways we have both embraced our emotional selves, and where we have committed self-abandonment. Spend a few moments today examining your heart space for all the thoughts and feelings this most recent tragedy has triggered. Try to do this self-examination with tenderness and compassion, and, with utter honesty.

With Much Love,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

In Preparation for Winter: A Time to Turn Inward and Hide

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately. I don’t want to do any of the things I normally do. I just want to run away and hide.”

I’ve been hearing these types of statements a lot recently. Friends, colleagues, healers, and clients alike have reported feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by everything from repeated natural disasters to the simple tasks of their everyday lives. But what if there is nothing wrong with us at all? What if instead, our desire for retreat is just our internal wisdom telling us it’s time to prepare for a much needed season of rest?

DSCF2895.JPGHere in the U.S. the season of Harvest is complete and Fall has arrived with Winter right on its heels. Fall is where we prepare for the fallow season of Winter. In Five Element wisdom, Winter embodies the processes of hibernation, death, gestation, and stillness; it is the season where doing nothing is the right and perfect activity. These forces are at play in both the natural world, and in our inner landscapes.

But pressed by internal and external demands for continual productivity, we often fear (the core emotion of Winter) the very idea of slowing down, of taking a break. Though we want nothing more than to quiet our minds and our activities, to retreat into our self-constructed caves of isolation, rest, however, is not a culturally acceptable season in which to linger. Deep rest, however, is exactly what our bodies and spirits crave and Winter’s rest is the perfect prescription for the weary ache that seems to be embedded in our very bones. .

“Imbued with the qualities of contemplation, reflection, meditation, and conservation, enveloped by Winter’s deep rest, we can come to more fully appreciate the core essence of life itself. With its long, dark nights, Winter is the perfect time to work on our inner landscapes. When we make good use of this rest we remain more resilient to life’s changes, able to move with the unexpected without fretting unduly over an uncertain future.” –from Soul of the Seasons (c) 2017, Melody A Scout

Every living being on the planet requires a season of rest to build resilience, and for restoration and rejuvenation. When we press ourselves into over-work and over-stimulation we create imbalance. An imbalance in the season of Winter can show up as anxiety, hyper-activity, fearful striving, adrenal exhaustion, aggression, and mind-racing. Overwhelmed by our busy schedules we may believe we don’t have time to rest, but rest is exactly what we need.

Mother Earth wisely knows the importance of quality rest. The natural world retreats as most signs of life go into hiding. Forced growth and activity during this season would result in death for many beings, so all unnecessary activities die away during the Big Sleep that is Winter.

Fall’s purpose then, is to prepare for the coming Big Sleep by setting aside the necessities that can sustain us both internally and externally. Much in the same way we save for a vacation by carving out time and resources for time off, we can make plans to ensure we have the means and resources necessary for regular periods of rest. Taking small daily breaks that restore body, mind, and spirit, getting quality sleep, and setting aside periods of time for napping, meditation, and contemplation can help us to build resilience and avoid burnout.

As Winter looms on the horizon, take some time to consider the following questions:

What can I do now to prepare for an extended season of rest?

How can I incorporate seasons of rest into my every day schedule?

How do I avoid or resist rest?

What in my life needs a good death?

Winter streamThe power encoded within the act of retreating from our everyday lives is perfectly reflected in this poem by David Whyte.

HIDING

is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light. Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the hibernating bear. Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother’s womb until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the immediate necessity for outside intensive care.

Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named. We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others. What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control. Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.

© David Whyte: March 2014: Excerpted from ‘HIDING’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

Melody A Scout is a Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner, Sacred Landscape Designer, and the author of the upcoming book, Soul of the Seasons which reveals the wisdom of Five Element medicine through the template of the seasons of the natural world.

Post-Irma Reflections

20170910_173928In the past week or so the whole world watched as hurricane Irma formed, then steamed headlong toward Florida, tracking up the full length of the peninsula. Glued to our TVs and mobile devices perpetually tuned into weather channels or the National Hurricane Center, we locked our attention on the massive hurricane’s ever-changing projected path as she spread her skirts wide across the Carribean. With warmer than normal temps in the Atlantic ocean and Gulf of Mexico, Irma quickly built to a dangerous Category 5+ hurricane.

Like many here in Florida  my excitement, worry, fear, hope, irritation, panic, and gratitude cycled around as I made my storm preparations. And, although I saw a few panicked people rushing to buy plywood, bottled water, and gas, many  others extended kindness, patience, and generosity to those soon to be displaced by the impending storm.

Mind-boggling systems of support, rescue, and recovery–both public and private–were mobilized and set into place. On social media people set up groups to track lost pets, check on loved ones in Irma’s path, locate available shelters, where to find gas and water, the latest evacuation routes, the best charities to donate to, and the latest weather reports. We posted pre- and post-hurricane tips.  We told stories and posted pictures of past disasters we’d weathered. We shared memes that made us laugh hysterically and others that broke our hearts. Image may contain: cat and text

 

We posted “Be safe!” and “Please check in when you can.” over and over again on the walls of friends, colleagues, family and loved ones. One Facebook friend remarked that “Be safe!” sounded a lot like “I Love You!” so we started posting that too.

 

Having made preparations as best we could we crossed fingers and toes and formed prayer circles as Irma approached. We threw parties, long a tradition here in the Gulf states, toasting Irma with Hurricanes and smoothies and martinis, and visualized blowing her back out to sea. Someone vowed to take a drink every time they came across the word “hunker” and quickly became inebriated.

Disheartened, we watched the destruction on the islands that preceded Irma’s impending landfall on the mainland of Florida and counted it a good enough reason to break into our hurricane snacks.  People made shelters in their hallways and bathrooms, supposedly the safest places to be during a storm. We saw pictures of cocoons constructed out of mattresses and pillows and forts made up for furry friends. Some donned helmets and others tucked chickens into their shower stalls.

Though thoroughly engrossed and entertained by the 24-hour coverage, I took breaks from Irma-watching to do a job for a friend, visit with another friend, and to spend time on the beach. Though we were not in the hurricane’s projected path here in the panhandle, Irma’s power was so vast she stirred up the waters, affecting tides and currents 500 or more miles away. The pull of her winds created tides so low people could walk far out into the sands. At my local beach, the Gulf was offering up larger than normal waves. Red and purple flags signaled warnings of dangerous marine life, rip currents, and a brisk northeasterly wind.20170909_164802b

I’m like a kid at a birthday party with an impending storm and I have to make sure I don’t overdose on excitement. Going to the beach both calms and opens me. I found myself standing for long moments, gazing far into the horizon, feeling the power of the sea in my solar plexus. To conserve energy the seagulls huddled up near the dunes. Tucked out of the winds, they looked sleepy.20170910_174928a A few surfers took advantage of the waves while other beachgoers scoured the shore for newly offered shells. Back home I posted pictures of the beach, told everyone I could think of “I love you!” and “Be safe!” After updating the latest hurricane stats and sent out prayers, I gave up and went to bed.

During the day on Monday I watched as Irma changed direction and intensity once again, heading further inland as it blew up the middle of the state. As she went, she quickly lost steam, doing far less damage than we had first feared. Waves of relief flooded over me as people began assessing damage and checking in. No one I knew personally suffered injury or had significant damage to their homes. Governmental and Emergency support teams already in place moved into action, clearing roads and restoring utilities as quickly as possible.

The damage from Irma is not slight and the total assessment of loss has yet to be calculated but we are grateful things were not worse. There’s the usual bickering and complaining about not enough being done but on the whole, community stepped up. We were there for each other, looking out for our neighbors, and offering whatever help we could.

Just as with hurricane Harvey in Texas a few days earlier, I am reminded once again that the majority of Americans are kind, generous souls who support each other when in need. Though we are grateful for federal assistance when it’s given, we can organize and mobilize and step up, even when our government can’t or won’t. My heart opens wide seeing all these examples of community at work.

Our hurricane season is not over yet so we cannot fully let down our guard. In the days and months ahead there will be much to do and much to learn. I continue to pray for those who have lost everything and will have to rebuild, repair, or relocate. Some veterans of powerful hurricane Andrew that struck Miami 25 years ago are feeling re-traumatized. Physical, emotional, and financial support will be needed for a long time to come.

Thank you to all of my friends and family who checked in on me and offered prayers of safety and support and shelter, should I need it. I am grateful beyond words. Let’s not forget to continue in our prayers and support for those devastated by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and forest fires everywhere. try not to judge the difficult decisions people have to make when tragedy befalls them.

Just watching these disasters unfold can be exhausting, not to mention recovering from one. The initial surge of adrenaline from the excitement will soon wear off and can leave us feeling exhausted, irritable, and melancholy. Take breaks when needed.  Laugh when you can. Eat well. Sleep. Get a hug. Give a hug. Know you are loved.