solace

All posts tagged solace

Gratitude

Published November 25, 2011 by Susan Woodward

I’d mentioned before that two cards kept appearing in my readings.  I’ve already talked about The Hermit, and today I want to examine the Nine of Pentacles.  Both have to do with solitude… but the Nine adds the element of gratitude.

This card is gorgeous.  I love the colors and the flowing lines.  I especially love how, although the woman is alone, she seems not to be concerned about that.  Life springs out of her creative expression, and the warm colors suggest that she is comfortable in her solitude.  Purple is a color of creativity, while green is life… my two favorite colors in the world.  With the water-based conch shells, it suggests that her world and music are filled with emotion, and the fact that she is seated on a conch suggests that she is comfortable in her emotional state.  She holds her head high while admiring the fruit of her talent.  The roots of the tree spread out wide on the earth, as do the roots that seem to spring from the shell.  She is grounded.   The branches of the tree reach high into the Universe, suggesting that her music is not meant to be kept to herself, even though she is alone in composing it.  Her hands seem relaxed as they are poised above the keyboard, and I imagine that if I could see her face, it too would be in a peaceful state.

I want that.  If I must be alone for now, I want it to be a peaceful solitude.  I want life to spring from my creative endeavors, whether it comes from my novel, my guided visualizations, my poetry, my music, or my theatrical performances… I want to bring life to my art.

I also want to find that sense of solace from being alone.  What I wish is to be comfortable in my solitude instead of feeling lonely.  Going from a house full of people to an apartment by myself is still an adjustment, even after a year and a half.   Sometimes it’s just too quiet.  What I am attempting to do is fill that quiet with the words of the my characters and the sounds of the world I am creating in my novel.

Snape could never be in this picture… and that makes me feel sad for people like him in this world.  My heart goes out to those who have loved and lost because I have been there.  However, the most important thing I can do for myself is not to get stuck in old memories.  I am ready to make new ones, even if I have to do it alone.  Would I be willing to accept someone into my world?  Of course… but not simply to alleviate any loneliness I feel.  When and if I were to be with someone, it would have to be a coming together of two like souls.  Convenience is not an option; that’s too easy.   I want something that has time to blossom and grow, like the tree springing forth in the picture.   Someone who also has a creative spirit who will help feed that tree, and not allow it to wither and die away.

I did that.  I allowed my creative writing to wither away because someone else didn’t appreciate what I wanted to do.  I gave in to doing what he wanted and stepped back from the things that were really a part of my soul.   Meditation and a soul retrieval ritual helped me to reclaim that part of me, and I will not let it go again.   A life of creativity is what I am called to.

And so I will write.  I will continue to write here, even if no one ever reads these words.   Like the tree, I give these words to the Universe.  I am perfectly okay with simply sending them out there.  Who knows where they will land, if they even do?

Today, as the sun streams in through the windows this gorgeous day-after-Thanksgiving, I will write.  I will be filled with gratitude that I have been given the gift of time to do so as well as a creative spirit.  I shall fill the silence with soft music and allow my imagination to fly me to the world I am creating through my fingertips.   Perhaps one day the world will share this imaginative journey with me when I finally publish the fruits of my solitary labor.

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Facing the Shadow: “Path” by Apocalyptica

Published October 20, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Wow.  That’s all I have to say every single time I watch this video.  This is such a vivid, fabulous depiction of the inner conflict and facing the “Shadow” inside.  How appropriate for me right now that it is entitled “Path”.

I love the “call and response” between the live performers and the shadowy figures on the wall.  I can especially feel the angst as it builds through the music, and when the “stand off” occurs, I feel the rise within my own soul.

As I continue through this desert path with the sun looking down on me, the only other “living” thing I see is my own shadow.  It is a part of me, both outside and in.  I suppose that part of working through toward solitude is befriending that shadow part of myself.   I know it’s not necessarily the “dark side” of me, but the things that I keep hidden, both consciously and unconsciously.

The conscious parts are easy to discover… the things about myself that I would just as soon keep private and hidden from the world.  Some parts I’m ashamed of, while others are simply just too personal to bring out into the open.

The unconscious parts are much more difficult to discern.  Sometimes things pop up and I ask myself, “Where the hell did that come from?”  “What made me do that?”  “What drives me to want this, that, or the other thing?”  These have a way of coming out unbidden and when they do, I begin to feel anxious and feel almost as if I have to beat them down.  The anxiety comes from not being able to control when or where these behaviors, attitudes, or impulses pop up.   I guess that’s what I see in the video… that struggle for control.   Maybe the darkness of my shadow is my collective fears that I feel the need to conquer.

There’s that pause in the music where the one musician is tapping on his knee, waiting for a response– that silence before the storm of full confrontation.   Then both sides are in a frenzy of conflict and it seems as if the Shadow is conquered… at least for the time being.  But is conquering what I really want here?

The more I think about it, though, the more I seem to believe that I need to be gentler with my Shadow self.   What I think would make the transition toward solace much easier for me is if I befriend those parts of me that are hidden.  And not that the Shadow part is evil… just in darkness, out of sight from everyone else.  For the regrets and shame from things in my past, it would serve me better to acknowledge their presence, know that they will never truly disappear because those things are a part of who I am and who I have become over the years, and to simply let them dwell there in peace without trying to beat them down.  But those will be the easier parts to befriend… the conscious ones.  It’s dealing with parts that pop up by surprise at various times in my life that catch me off guard and cause anxiety… and then the whole “fight or flight” instinct kicks in.  Except, in that situation, that there’s no flight from what’s a part of you… just fight.  I am not sure how to keep that inner part under control so that I don’t end up in full-blown self-conflict and attempting to beat myself down.

Perhaps the conflict I feel inside could be better resolved by taking the time to really LOOK at the conscious parts first.  Heck, since the sun is bearing down on me in this desert, it’s right there all the time.  There’s no hiding it here.   I can allow myself to feel whatever emotions that go along with what I find, and then moving through the desert won’t be as lonely when I befriend myself.  Once I am at peace with those parts, maybe I’ll figure out a way to discover the unconscious parts.    What does lurk deep in my soul?

I’d like to figure out how to get a look at what’s hidden just beyond my view.   There must be a way to tap into what is unconscious and bring it forward… but I think that finding a way to curb the confrontational attitude that I often take toward myself might be a step in the right direction.

Some Will, Some Won’t: Being the Master of Two Worlds

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Close your eyes and relax.  Now take three deep breaths: one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit.  Take one last very deep breath and hold it.  Just when you think you cannot hold the breath any longer, pull in just a bit more air.  Again, when you feel as if you cannot continue holding the breath, pull in just a little more.  When you finally do release your breath, do so very slowly in a long continuous exhale until you have released all that you were holding.  Breathe slowly and deeply as you continue to relax.  Relax all the muscles of your body: your legs, your arms, your shoulders, and your jaw.  Completely relax.

Imagine that you are sinking down into the furniture, and in turn sinking through the floor.  Allow yourself to continue sinking down and down, all the while feeling completely relaxed.  You pass deep down into the earth and suddenly find yourself awakening in your bed in your very special place.  Stretch cat-line in contentment as you look around your room.  Admire your favorite possessions and embrace the familiarity of being home.  It almost seems as if the long journey was a dream, and yet you know it was not.  Get out of bed and go to each of your special items and remind yourself of why it holds this status for you.  Who or what does each remind you of?  How does the memory of each make you feel?

Everything is so familiar, and yet you can sense of difference in the air.  The difference is not with the place; it is within you.  How have you changed?  Do these changes make you think or feel differently about being home?  How does this make you feel?  You realize that your return has left you with an obligation to share what you have learned with others.  How do you feel about that?

While you are perusing the room, a pleasant, tantalizing scent wafts in the air.  You are suddenly greeted with, “Well, I’m glad to see you’re finally back!”

Turning around, you find the one person with whom you wanted to share your experiences sitting at the table.  A hearty breakfast awaits you, and the table has been set for two.  Who is this person?  Why is he/she the one you with which you most wish to share your tale?  How do you feel upon seeing him/her?  What has he/she prepared for your breakfast in honor of your return?

Greet this person with a big hug before sitting down at the table.  The two of you enjoy the wonderful food, and he/she listens to the tales of your adventures.  How does he/she react?  What does he/she say about what you’ve learned?

“You’ve changed,” he/she observes.  As you continue to talk, it is apparent that he/she approves of the changes in you.  How does this make you feel?  What does he/she remark about the changes?

As you continue with your meal, it is obvious that he/she is becoming more and more wistful with the description of each adventure.  For a moment, you think that he/she is no longer listening and has begun daydreaming.  Question him/her about it.  How does this reaction make you feel?

His/her response surprises you.  He/she tells you that he/she had been contemplating trying something new, but was unsure of whether or not to proceed.  However, after hearing your tale, you have awakened in him/her the courage to take that step forward.  How does this make you feel?  What is it that he/she would like to do?  How has your story impacted him/her?  What can you do to help him/her get started?  You can feel a change taking place in your relationship to this person.  What is it?  How do you feel about this change?

After finishing breakfast, you talk for a bit more before he/she arises to leave.  He/she has many plans to make, and is eager to get started after listening to you.  How do you feel about that?  He/she gives you a big hug and says that he/she will return soon to talk with you more.  Say good-bye and open the door for him/her.  When you do, you discover that there is someone else on the doorstep that was just about to knock.  Who is this person?

Say good-bye to one friend as you welcome your newcomer.  This new person is also a good friend, and you are glad to see him/her.  This person, however, does not seem to be as pleased to see you.  When he/she enters, he/she barely returns your welcoming hug before taking a seat and turning to you with, “So.  You’re back.”  The tone carries something negative, but you can’t quite put your finger on what is wrong.  You’ve been so close in the past and are puzzled by his/her reaction.

“So what did you do while you were off on your vacation?” he/she demands.  Again, the tone sounds condescending and puts you on your guard.  What feelings are going through you?  Why might he/she be acting this way?

Try to remain pleasant with this person who obviously isn’t.  Cheerfully describe your adventures just as you had earlier.  Somehow, though, based on his/her stiff reaction, you begin to feel as if you’d done something wrong by going on the journey at all.  Where is this feeling of guilt coming from?  Why do you even feel guilty at all?  You’ve done nothing wrong, although this person obviously believes you have.  What do you suppose has led him/her to the conclusion that your journey was a bad thing?  How does that make you feel?

As you talk, you hear yourself downplaying certain parts of the adventure.  Why would you censor yourself?  Which parts do you downplay?  Why?  How does it make you feel to know that you cannot share your entire experience with this person because it obviously makes him/her upset?  What has caused this chasm in your once-close relationship?  How do you begin to feel about yourself as you hear how you downplay your experiences?

His/her comments are repetitive, and all he/she seems to say is, “Oh. Uh huh.  How nice for you.”  How does this make you feel?  Why do you suppose he/she is acting like this?

Before long, the conversation becomes too unbearable for you to stand.  It seems that the only way to talk to this person is to change the subject entirely and try to talk about something you have in common.  However, resentment has begun to build in you, and you find your end of the conversation as stiff as his/hers.  How do you feel about this change between you two?  Is there anything that can make things be the way they used to be when you were close?  How do you see the relationship evolving?

As the conversation becomes more uncomfortable, your companion decides that it’s time to leave.  At this point you are filled with conflicting emotions.  This is someone that you care about, and yet his/her reaction to your journey has left you filled with negative emotions.  What are these emotions?

After he/she leaves, the negativity still hangs in the air.  While you know that you’ve done nothing wrong in following your call to adventure, your friend’s reaction has left you feeling as if you should not have gone.   Ask yourself once again if there is something that can be done to heal the relationship.

You decide that the events of the day have left you tired and confused.  You were so happy to share with your first visitor who actually seemed inspired to begin his/her own journey.  Revisit those feelings that reinforce the positive aspects of sharing your experiences.  Knowing that there is nothing you can do at the moment to change the way your second visitor views your journey, keep your focus on the positive.  In your heart, you know that change involves the risk of displeasing those who do not invite change into their own lives.  The change in you has changed the relationship, and the change in the relationship is uncomfortable to the person who wished to maintain the status quo.  Perhaps, with time, he/she will come to accept what has changed in you and the relationship can grow.  If not, are you willing to bear his/her resentment at seeking personal growth?

For the remainder of the day, pour over the extensive notes you took while on your journey.  What observations do you make?  Pay attention to the types of plants and trees and animals you mentioned in your journal.  How were these significant at that point in the journey?  Fortunately, you own a book of symbolism.  It is a rather large volume that sits high upon one of your bookshelves.  Bring it down and begin to look up the significance of everything you wrote in your journal.  Even though you have returned, these symbols have lessons to teach you.  This is an activity that will bring you much pleasure in the future as you begin to analyze your journey and its significance to your personal growth.

The activity calms your mind and alleviates the negativity you’d felt earlier.  You know in your heart that this journey was the best thing for your growth and that no one has the right to negate that growth, no matter who he/she is.  Feeling better, you tidy your place after your visits and prepare a simple supper for yourself.  Now how do you feel about being home?

Relaxed and calm once more, you decide that it is time to go to sleep.  Curl into a comfortable position, and take a deep breath.  Feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from your very own bed in your special place.  As you rise, you become more and more aware of your surroundings, and soon you are able to sense the furniture beneath you.  This is the room from which you began this journey not so very long ago.  As you become more and more aware of the room around you, you think about your two friends.  Send them both positive thoughts and energy and know that your journey was right for your personal growth.  This realization will remain in your memory as you awaken from your rest.

Taking three deep breaths, one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit, you open your eyes to find yourself in a familiar place.

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