Category Archives: Uncategorized

Practicing Equanimity

“Equanimity is not indifference, and compassion is not pity. True spirituality requires us to be fully present for life. For us to begin to look directly at the world situation is not a question of ceremony or of religion. Meditation helps us to look deeply at the sorrow that exists now in our world, and to look at our individual and collective relationship to it, to bear witness to it, to acknowledge it instead of running away. Without mindfulness and compassion the suffering is too great to bear. We close our minds. We close our eyes and our hearts.”
~Jack Kornfield.

I have seen this quote and similar ones several times recently, but I need to be reminded. Frequently. I have never had difficulty with feeling compassion. But because I feel so much, I have felt the need to tune out and distance to protect myself.

I had a dream recently that showed me what I have been doing, versus what I need to be doing. Rather than viewing the ocean from atop a hill many miles away from it (distancing), to instead stand just above the water where it can be experienced more directly, yet still safely.

This is mindfulness. I am not immersed in the water (sorrow, suffering), overwhelmed and drowning. Yet I am much more present with it than seeing it from a great distance.

This is a journey for me, I am learning to bear witness without being overwhelmed; to allow what is happening into my consciousness without allowing it to destroy me.

Letters to My Son

A little over three years ago my teenage son and I had a blow-up. It wasn’t even about anything very important, but it was the culmination of a lot of anger on both our parts that had built up over several years. He was living with his father and visiting me at the time we had the fight. I told him to leave, which he did gladly, and I have not heard from him since.

At the time, I had no way of knowing that fight would turn into the estrangement that it has. Over the years I have made multiple attempts to start down the path of reconciliation, but have not received any response from him.

Today I had an a-ha that brought together and integrated different realizations that I have had over the time we have been apart.

In thinking about the fact that I haven’t missed him very much during this time, I realized that was because the relationship that we had was superficial. I long to have a close relationship with him, yet as he was growing up I was unable to be authentic and vulnerable with him. That authenticity and vulnerability is the very basis for an intimate relationship. Not surprisingly, he was not authentic and vulnerable with me, either.

So, I haven’t missed him because there was nothing much there to miss. And, I’d like that to be different.

Of course, I realize that there are two people in a relationship, and I can only do my part. But I also realize that if I’m not willing to go first and put myself out there, he probably never will. And, even if we never reconcile, even if I never hear from him again, I want him to know me. I want him to know who I am on the inside, which I have hidden from him most of his life.

To that end, I decided that I would start sending him stories from my life. I’m removing the mask of perfection and detachment from being emotional that I’ve worn with him.

I’ll let him see times I was hurting or scared. I’ll let him see times I did something I regret. I’ll let him see times things didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

And, I’ll also let him see the joy and love that has been in my life.

I will be sharing these stories on this blog as well because its purpose when I began it nearly five years ago was for me to show up authentically. There may be stories related to my son that I choose not to share because it would violate his privacy. But beyond that, my intention is to be an open book.

I remember when I first began blogging how terrified I was to be seen. The feedback I received here was a huge support in me being able to continue being more authentic and more vulnerable.

Today I find it almost amusing how scared I was to “expose myself” in the beginning. Today I am mostly comfortable letting people see me with all my foibles and imperfections, yet there are still times I hold back from being fully seen. Here is my opportunity to change that.

Thank you again for your continuing support!

One Step at a Time

I’ve really been having a week of upheaval. There is the potential for all the basics in my life (work and home) in the next few months. I’m looking at moving across the country, and with that, through necessity, changing jobs – or at least changing what my current job is like.

On Tuesday I hit my limit with the unknown and feeling overwhelmed and, let’s face it, scared. Even though these changes are completely my own choice, and I know that I am being called to do them, it’s darn scary!

I am feeling called to move to upstate New York, and am planning a trip there in July to check it out. My goal is to make a decision by the end of July and move in August. Earlier this week I started planning my trip, and promptly became paralyzed by indecision. Which is not at all like me. I couldn’t decide whether to fly or drive. I couldn’t make myself fill out and turn in the vacation request at work. I spent hours online looking at AirBNB and driving routes and flight choices. And couldn’t decide a thing.

To top things off, there has been some drama at work in the past week that throws a wrench in the works of how I was planning my graceful exit there. Or if not a full exit, at least a transition to working remotely as a contract employee. And I was left feeling like everything in my life was up in the air and unknown.

Of course if I’m honest, that’s always true! I don’t have control over the majority of what happens in my life. But like most of us, I have carried that illusion of control with me for many years, and it feels just teensy bit (okay, a whole lot) uncomfortable when I run up against it. And I have been someone who has had an inner knowing of what I want to do and is very decisive, in general.

In the past 10 years I have made a lot of significant changes in my life, and have handled them with grace and ease. I’ve had friends remark on the courage it took to change careers, when to me it just felt like the logical next step for me. Similarly, when I sold my house a few years ago and decided to rent instead (in preparation for a move out of state or country at some unknown time in the future), friends told me how brave I was. And, once again, I knew deep in my heart that it was the right path for me, and although I had moments of sadness in leaving the home where I had raised my son, 95% of me was excited for the change.

So this feeling of being almost paralyzed by fear of the unknown is somewhat new to me.

A few things happened, and I had some reminders that helped me to regroup and calm down.

  • I let it all out. I had a couple of experiences at work that day that got me really worked up. I left work and got in my car and drove. I cried. I ranted. I swore (yes, this can sometime be helpful!). I raged. I got mad at other drivers. I yelled at my boss and co-worker. And within 15 minutes it was all out, and I felt a lot better.

My inclination is to stuff everything and not feel the yuck. But when I do that, I really can’t think straight, because there’s all that stuff in their trying to get out. I recently read a great book, Letting Go, The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins. The concepts were not new to me, but they were a great reminder that as we stuff our emotions rather than letting them flow through us, we create strife in our lives that manifests in many different ways.

So, I let go of all the anger, frustration and rage that had been building up inside me. No, it’s not all about what happened at work that day. But that situation was a catalyst to release more of what has built up over more than 50 years in this body.

  • Nothing is forever. Once I was calm, I could think straight. I remembered that no matter what decision I make, it’s not forever. If I don’t like the result, I can always make a different choice. I wasn’t going to let fear of making a mistake keep me from moving forward.
  • I only need to know the next step. Part of what was getting me so tied up in knots that I couldn’t move was not being able to know how everything will pan out.

Will my boss be agreeable to me working remotely? Will another employment option I have work out? How will I support myself? How will my cats deal with 5 days on the road when we move? Will I find a place I like to live?

As you can see, none of these questions have a thing to do with planning my trip to explore. But this is what was keeping me paralyzed. I couldn’t predict the future.

I was reminded of something profound that a friend said to me four years ago when I was in a similar state. I was planning a trip to Edinburgh with the idea of checking it out as a place I might like to live. I was going through all the same kinds of questions and getting myself pretty freaked out.

As I shared this with my wise friend, he said “You only need to know the next step.”

Well, duh! But how profound! I have used this wisdom from my friend many times in the past few years when I get myself in a tizzy over the future, and it has served me well. Thank you, Mark.

So, I got unstuck and booked my trip the next day. I still have a bit of trepidation about how the future will unfold, I suppose that’s only natural, even as I trust in Spirit to guide me. But I am no longer paralyzed and am moving forward.

The More Things Change…

Today is May 4, 2016. It’s been 4 years since I started this blog, and 2 years since I last posted. I thought an update to my “about” was in order, given how much my life has changed since I began this blog.

I was surprised by how little had changed from my original “about”, given how much has changed in  my life in the past four years.

My name is Laura Longley. I am a woman in mid-life on a spiritual journey.

It’s about the only thing that hasn’t changed in the past 4 years (or so I thought). Keep reading!

I changed careers several years ago from software development to counseling and coaching – a choice that much better suited me. In this process I identified my purpose as ‘I use my wisdom and knowledge to help others grow, while continuing to learn and grow myself.

Just a bit of history, no change here.

My current phase of growth is around authenticity and love. I had a transformative experience in November, 2011 (see my first post for details: https://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/my-authentic-experience-in-new-york-the-beginning-of-the-rest-of-my-life/) which has jumped me forward in my growth and evolution.  I now see my purpose as ‘I help others be happier through living a more authentic life.’  This is more specific both in the outcome as well as how it is achieved.

I guess I would say this is mostly valid, too, although my sense of my purpose has changed over time. Even though I still believe that others are helped by living a more authentic life, I now read that statement as ‘I help others be happier through living a more authentic life myself.’ I realize that how I show up in the world has an impact on everyone around me. I don’t have to do anything directly in order to impact their happiness. If I’m happier, they’re happier.

My first intention in this blog is to speak my truth, to be open and authentic about who I am and what I’m up to.  Much of my life has been spent monitoring and censoring what I say based on how I think it will be received.  My practice (and believe me, it is practice, not perfect) now is to say what is true for me with love and compassion.

Yup, still true.

My second hope is that my own journey and process may help, inspire or encourage someone else along their own path.

Yup, true again. Although at this point I feel like it truly is a secondary goal, where before it felt a bit like trying to get external validation by helping others. Now, not so much.

So, what has changed for me in the past four years?

  • I quit my private counseling and coaching practice
  • I sold my house
  • I sat around contemplating my naval for a couple of years
  • I tried to make things happen that never materialized
  • I learned to allow things to happen
  • I went back to work in my previous career of software (which I swore I never would do)
  • I became estranged from my teenaged son
  • I became an introvert
  • I experienced many miracles
  • I received guidance through my dreams
  • I moved twice
  • I fought and resisted and cried
  • I enjoyed being mostly free of obligation and demands of others
  • I shifted and changed and changed some more
  • I manifested money (with the help of Spirit) in ways I could never have imagined
  • I discovered my deceased father’s history through a dream and helped him to heal and move on
  • I finally accepted that what others think of me is not about me
  • I learned that Spirit has my back
  • I became aware of synchronicity and serendipity
  • I stopped worrying about money
  • I reconnected with my childhood best friend, who is now my grown-up best friend
  • I let a lot of relationships fall away
  • I learned to trust and value myself

There’s much more – it’s been four years of huge change – but this list is pretty representative.

And still, my outlook on life, my understanding of why I’m here, has not changed. It has deepened and perhaps I have a slightly different perspective. Certainly I have more knowledge, understanding and wisdom. But, in general I still believe that my life purpose (and in my view, the life purpose of each of us) is to move towards becoming more of who we truly are: a spiritual being.

I Am Not a Victim

In analyzing a dream I had last night, I came up with this for myself, and I thought it might be helpful for you, too.

I am not a victim. I always have choices. I can choose to play the victim and pretend I have no power. Or I can own my power to choose, even though I am scared to do so.

Sometimes it feels safer to be the victim. No responsibility. This is happening TO me.

But I know in my heart that nothing happens TO me, it all happens FOR me. I had lessons to learn about my own power in those situations where I chose to be a victim.

In every moment I have choice. Look at the array of choices in this picture. Pineapple or orange? Red delicious or Granny Smith apple? Joy or dissatisfaction?

Today I choose to be powerful. I choose freedom. What about you?

I Give Myself Permission To Not Know

Yesterday I had a session with my BodyTalk practitioner. She talks to my body silently and uses muscle testing to get answers. A few minutes into the session she asked me, “What would you like to give yourself permission for?”

Immediately I knew that I wanted to give myself permission to not know. I’ve recently (and off and on for the past 18 months) been in a place of not knowing where I’m going. It creates a lot of stress. I wanted to be okay with not knowing.

I also have realized through a situation with my teenage son several months ago, that my need to know is tied to control; the idea that I take responsibility for everything and have to fix that which is “broken.”

At that time my “not knowing” what was going on for my son was very stressful for me, and I realized it was because if I didn’t know what was happening I couldn’t fix it. And…I came to the understanding that it wasn’t my job to fix it.  Whatever it may be.

“Needing to know” has been my way to keep myself safe. If I am ever vigilant about what’s going on around me, I can protect myself and those I love. But that is just an illusion. I cannot control what happens. At best I can mitigate circumstances.

Trying to control is another way that my lack of trust shows up. Lack of trust in myself, others and Spirit to be able to deal with whatever. And hypocrisy in that I say I believe that the world (and Spirit) is benevolent, and that everything will always be as it should be. But by trying to control I’m really saying I don’t believe that.

So as of yesterday, I give myself permission to not know.

For More Peace of Mind, Stop Complaining!

This morning at 4:45 AM I awoke to the sound of large trucks on the street below my apartment. I waited a few moments to see if they were just driving by, but they weren’t. I got up and looked out the window.

There are two buildings going up nearby – one next door to my building and one right across the street. There were two large trucks, one off-loading equipment, the other a cement mixer in the street below. They weren’t going away.

I immediately began to get angry. How dare they! There must be some law about noise at that hour. Who could I complain to? But I quickly realized that even if I found the right authority to complain to, it wouldn’t remove the noise that was keeping me from sleeping right at that moment.

So I got out my earplugs and put them in. They went in easily on the first try in both ears, and I said a little prayer of gratitude for that. I got back in bed and went back to sleep.

I did have a few fleeting thoughts of complaining to my building’s management to see what they could do. But I again realized that would only keep me feeling upset about the situation, which in reality had been easily resolved.

Yes, I would have preferred not to be awakened early. But I was only awake for maybe 5 minutes as I assessed the situation and took care of it. It wasn’t that big of a deal, and by continuing to focus on the unfairness of it, I would continue to be upset when there was no longer anything to be upset about.

My lesson is whenever I feel someone is stepping on my toes, encroaching on my rights, and I’m tempted to complain, what I really need to do is look at how I can do something to make the situation okay for myself, then do that.

Because in the long run, I just want to be happy. How it happens – whether through my actions or those of another – doesn’t matter.

And quit complaining!

Collaborating Instead of Competing With Ego

Last night I had a scary dream. I have always had a lot of dreams, and find tons of insights in them. So when I woke up this morning, the dream was on my mind. I know that whenever I wake up and am feeling upset by something in a dream, that there’s something there to look at (after I remind myself that it is just a dream, not real).

The gist of the dream I had was that there was a kidnapper who kept taking members of my family. I would rescue them, but he would always get someone else. No one else seemed to be too concerned about it. In fact, one time I found the front door wide open when someone had been kidnapped.

At first the kidnapper was not visible to me, but eventually I tracked him down and confronted him face to face. I could have killed him in that moment if I had chosen to, but I didn’t. Instead he has an army of about 50 people – that were more like robots – appear out of thin air. I felt defeated, and knew that I could not win against him.

When I woke up and started thinking and writing about the dream, it occurred to me that the “kidnapper” is my ego. It keeps “stealing” parts of my authentic self. My soul, or true self, is the one who has to stand vigilant to get those parts back from ego. The parts themselves (my “family members) don’t care who’s running the show: ego or my true self. So they do nothing to keep ego from taking them over.

I noticed that when I confronted ego directly, it got stronger (the army of 50 robots). The robots are my automatic thoughts that kick in when I get scared. Once I realized that the kidnapper was my ego, I knew I couldn’t banish it, or kill it off. Having an ego is part of being human.

So what I needed to do was to collaborate with it. During my meditation this morning I asked it what it wanted. Why it was kidnapping my family members. The answer was that it wanted me to pay attention to it. As much as my ego is based in fear and can get really out of control with fearful thoughts, it also pays an important role in protecting me. And as much as I wish it and its fearfulness would just go away, I know it won’t.

I also asked my authentic self what I needed to be able to trust ego. To be in a place of collaboration, not competition or war. (I’m just now seeing as I write this that trust is also involved, as in my post a few days ago.) I need to be the one in charge. I’m the general, ego is my trusted advisor. I make the final decisions, and ego shuts up if I tell it to.

So we had a conversation and reached a truce and a peace accord. I agreed to listen to ego when it tries to get my attention, and ego agreed that I was the one in charge of the final decisions.

Now I need to think about what this looks like in reality. What are the signals that ego is trying to get my attention that I’ve been ignoring or trying to banish? And, how do I tell the difference between ego’s fear and its valuable advice about danger? More to come…

When I Don’t Trust Others, I Really Don’t Trust Spirit

Last year I realized that I have been over-protective of my son in a way that is not healthy for either of us. I have taken on his difficult emotions so that he did not have to feel them. In doing this, I’ve kept him from learning and growing in certain ways.

In learning to have a more separate existence from him, I’ve realized that I don’t trust him to keep himself safe. That I have a very deep fear – terror really – that if I don’t protect him he will not survive. Intellectually I know that we each need to be responsible for ourselves, and that he has his own path and lessons to learn in this lifetime.

But as a mother, it can be really difficult to find that fine line between protecting a vulnerable child who doesn’t yet have the skills or wherewithal to take care of himself, and over-protecting to the point where the child doesn’t have the opportunity to learn those skills.

My son is almost an adult now. The line is much clearer than it was when he was younger. And yet…

Some things have happened in the past several months that have really brought to light how much over the line I have been in my son’s life, and the need to find a better balance. I totally get this. Again, intellectually. And yet the terror remains.

If I truly believe that we each come here with a purpose, and our own life lessons to learn (which I do), then I need to be able to trust that whatever happens is for my benefit, and for my son’s benefit. When I don’t trust him to take care of himself, I really don’t trust Spirit. I don’t trust that all things happen for the benefit of all.

I do have faith. I do believe that the Universe is benevolent.

I realize that being able to fully trust and surrender to the benevolence of Spirit is a remnant of my control issues. Throughout my life until somewhat recently I have felt that I’m the only one I can rely on. That it is my responsibility to keep myself and those I love safe.

We’re all works in progress, and I would guess that letting go of control (or rather the illusion of control) is one of my life lessons. How freeing it must be to be able to rely on others, and on Spirit. To not have to be in charge of everything.

And at the same time it feels pretty darn scary.

So, one step at a time, one situation at a time.

The circumstances with my son are there not only for his benefit, but for mine. To give me the opportunity to choose to trust him, and to trust Spirit.

I’m Fat

I’m fat.

There. I said it. I’m fat.

Not overweight. Not heavy. Fat. Because I want to desensitize myself to that word.

I want to see “fat” not as a judgment, but as a description of myself.

A few days ago I saw a picture that was taken on Monday, and I was shocked. I said to myself, “I look fat.” And I didn’t like that one bit. Because I judge myself when I think of myself as fat.

Lazy. Ugly. Not worth knowing. Those are the main judgments I have around being fat. If you told yourself you were lazy, ugly and not worth knowing, you wouldn’t want to acknowledge that you were fat, either.

So I’m on a mission to de-judge the statement “I’m fat.” I want it to have the same emotional pull for me that saying “I have brown eyes” or “I have short hair” has. I know this will not be easy, because I’ve spent my whole life judging myself on how I look, as have many other women.

And fat is the number one thing that you should not be if you want to be valued and admired as a woman.

Well, I’m done with worrying about what others think of the fact that I’m fat. I can’t control that. And, it says more about them and their issues than it does about me anyway.

What I can control is what I think about the fact that I’m fat. And, I’m choosing to learn to think of it as a description, not a judgment.