Thursday, August 11, 2016

Advancing Confidently in the Direction of my Dreams

(Sure we’ve all read the first line of this quote many times, but read beyond it…)

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

For much of this transitional year of my life, which sprung afresh from the unanticipated closing of my massage practice at the end of last year, I have adopted my all too familiar posture of waiting and trusting. I had a long-time goal to move to Maine, and was waiting and trusting that the practical aspects of arranging and affording this would fall into place at just the right time.

Recently I have had a 180 degree shift in my thinking. Instead of waiting for everything to fall into place so that I can advance confidently in the direction of my dreams, I decided to advance confidently in the direction of my dreams, with the assurance that this forward motion would itself bring the rest into alignment. It dawned on me that while I was waiting for external conditions to shift, perhaps those same conditions were waiting for me to shift.


So…I have shifted! I gave notice to my landlord and made plans to sell or give away household items that I don’t plan to move with me. I began clearing, culling and packing. I searched online and made inquiries for a suitable place to move to within easy but not-too-close distance from my daughter and her family who live in Maine. I found a home and have contacted the owners. It seems we suit each other. We are moving ahead with the plan. I move in September 1st!

It will be the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life. Who knows how it will unfold? Hopefully, Thoreau was correct in his proposal that if one advances confidently in the direction of her dreams, and endeavors to live the life which she has imagined, she will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. I intend for my next blog post to be entitled: My Uncommon Success.

I invite you to share this intention with me.

And if you feel inclined to share more than intention, please read on about a dream I had at my last lomilomi retreat in June of 2015. This retreat became the hinge on which my current life shift unexpectedly turned.



All of the lomilomi gatherings and retreats that I have ever attended have had significant transformational impact on my life on many levels, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The retreat in North Carolina in June of 2015 truly raised the bar as far as transformational effect is concerned.

I had told all of my massage clients and friends before I left that my time away would be like “going to heaven and back again.” The lomilomi sessions at this retreat encompassed unprecedented experiences of lifting up out of limitation, of immense liberation and of profound spiritual Presence. I came away knowing that I had gone to heaven and come back again. Details of this will be in my next book, which I am currently working on.

This retreat also marked the beginning of a new and unfamiliar ache in my deltoid muscles. It didn’t “just work itself out and go away” as I had assumed it would, but increased, spread and continued until I made the necessary surrender to close my massage practice at the end of the year, concluding that vocation and ending my means of livelihood.

At that retreat I had a dream. In the dream was some situation of dilemma and effort and struggle, to which my spoken dream answer was: “…or you can just pass the basket.” (As in, take up a collection.) I discussed this dream at length with Donna (one of the facilitators). She immediately latched on to the solution that I had proposed to myself in my dream: just pass the basket. Ask for support. She even went so far as to suggest that I put a PayPal button on my website, asking for “donations to my fabulous life.” She suggested that I offer something in return, something I could do long-distance as a thank-you.

This was months before the closing of my business was even a faint idea. I had no idea of what the remainder of the year was to hold. The idea of asking for support online seemed highly improbable and unnecessary to me at the time. I could not swallow the concept of just asking people to give me money. It grated against so much of what we have been taught, of how I had been raised, of the ingrained American ideal of the independent and rugged individualist who does everything for him/herself and certainly doesn’t depend on handouts.

But Donna was so smilingly sure. Her eyes held that secret knowing that assured me that she knew she was somehow right in this. (Anyone who knows Donna can picture this.) I filed the information away for future consideration.


Well, the future consideration is now. I am passing the basket. I am asking for support from whoever is so moved, to help in my migration to Maine and the beginning of this new chapter in my life. In return, as a thank-you for your generosity, I can offer a Rune reading, or a shamanic journey on your behalf for helpful information or healing, your choice. Please visit my website www.lauralander.com and click on shamanic services to find further descriptions of these. You will also find a PayPal button to click on to make your love offering. Then contact me with your request at laurallander@gmail.com.

In my front porch meditation this morning, as I drew from the deck of Hawaiian intention cards created by Donna, I felt her “wink” at me. When I looked at the card I had selected, I read: Koa – Courage. “Courage is the willingness to push through even when fear is taunting or traumatizing you. Fear is a liar. Fear can hijack your thoughts and derail you from your heart’s knowing and your deeper purpose. To be brave, bold and fearless you must change your thoughts, silence the lies and courageously stay true to your higher calling.” So that is my intention. I am silencing my fears and changing my thoughts and passing the basket. I am moving in the direction of my dreams, even before the externals have lined up for me.

Here’s to my new adventure. Here’s to my next post: My Uncommon Success. Intend with me!



(For the Hawaiian Healing Intention Oracle Cards, please visit www.sacredlomi.com/shop-cat/healing-tools/. You will find inspiration, encouragement and deep wisdom in them.)


photos from unsplash.com

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Surfing Lessons

photo by Anton Repponen

I have never been on a surfboard in my life. Still, I do not allow that drawback to keep me from finding comparisons between surfing and living life. Thinking on these similarities helps me to navigate the flow of my own life more gracefully.

See, the wave keeps rolling under you. It is ever changing, always on the move. What it will do next is entirely out of your control. Your best option is to endeavor to keep your balance and enjoy the ride. Life’s like that.

You can blame the wind, the sea, the current, any of the contributing factors, but that doesn’t really help anything. It’s not productive. Or you can build your strength, your stamina, hone your skills at keeping balance, at staying on the surfboard; that is helpful.

You can stay aware, flexible and engaged, able to move and change with the movement that is happening beneath you and all around you. No matter how experienced or skilled you are, you can entirely expect to be pitched off from time to time; understand that this is inevitable. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong, or that it wasn’t supposed to happen, or that you are not good enough. It’s just a part of surfing. A part of being alive.

Sometimes the waves may come too fast to negotiate; it all comes at you too fast. Sometimes you have to wait a while for a good wave to come along; you feel stuck and in need of change. Sometimes you are on the crest. Sometimes you are in the curl. Sometimes it seems you are in over your head! You may get washed up on the beach and have to start all over.

Eventually you are brought home to shore. You get to decide if the thrill was worth the ride!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Butterfly 101

I’ve been taking butterfly lessons. It all started one day earlier this spring when I left off writing at the table in my piano room which is next to the front window. I went to get a glass of water. When I returned after a few moments, my eyes were immediately drawn to a shape on the window curtain silhouetted against the outdoor light.


A butterfly!!!! It took me only a second to ascertain that it was indeed on the inside of the window, not on the outside. I was sure that it had not been there before, while I was working. How did it get in the house? I wondered. In only another couple of seconds it dawned on me, it did not get in the house, it had already been in the house! It was obviously newly emerged from its cocoon, which must have been on one of the houseplants just below the window, houseplants that I kept out on the front porch in the summer and moved into the house in the fall.

She was very still, airing her wings. A butterfly, newly born right in my house! I was totally charmed by the nearness of the event. I took personal meaning from its promise.


I carefully escorted her outside through the use of a box and lid, being careful not to touch her wings. I watched as she braved the breeze, clinging to her perch on the front porch post.


That seemed too blustery a place, so I moved her again, this time to the shelter of the woodpile, out of the strong wind. I watched as she remained still for a minute more, and then slowly climbed a twig. In a twinkling, she opened her wings and fluttered away in her zigzag flight path across the yard, right at home in her new experience of being.

I have given thought to this singular and timely occurrence, that of a butterfly hatching out of its cocoon inside my house. Synchronistically, this has come at a time when I have seen one chapter of my life concluded and am in the process of finding out what the next chapter will be. Something entirely different and new, a metamorphosis of my own. I feel that there are important lessons here for me.

One that occurs to me: all during the weeks and months of autumn and winter I had no idea that this cocoon was in my house. I had no clue that so close by there was a living chrysalis silently developing and preparing, waiting for the fulfillment of its purpose to emerge in its full blown beauteous form. Similarly, as I at times grow frustrated and impatient with the unknown shift that seems so slow in coming in my life, I can envision that behind the scenes, quite off my radar, totally unbeknownst to me, something wonderful is in process of becoming. The completed manifestation of my own current metamorphosis will show itself in its perfect time, even though I may not be aware how or even if it is happening. And it may well be that the invisible, inner changes are what will effect the most dramatic outward becoming.


Other butterfly teachings:
Although fragile in form, the butterfly is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to transformation. When I feel fragile, I can look within to dynamic powers of transformation and find strength in adaptability.

The very winds that seem to buffet too forcefully are the same breezes that eventually support outspread wings in flight, carrying off into adventure.
Even though the present may seem boxed in, surrounded by walls and blocked by limitations, there is an entire world out there with no boundaries, waiting to be explored. A door will open.
Who I am, who I believe myself to be at present has the real potential to develop into someone I can barely imagine.


“Grace does not cancel our nature, but perfects it.” From the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Reminders

“It is never too late to begin again.”

Reassuring words from one of those changeable signs in front of a local church reminded me of my current new beginning as I drove past.
That’s good to know, I thought.

A vulture curved gracefully in the air directly in front of and just above my car. Another reminder: of decomposition, recycling, renewed strength and new life. Of being supported on thermal updrafts. Riding on air. Ease. Grace. Empowerment.

I’ll take it! I thought to myself. I need all the reminders I can get.

The radio played a baroque processional fit for a queen as I proceeded up the long lane, heading home. I bowed my head to imagined accolades of royal regard for my eternal being.

Coming through the draw, a piliated woodpecker swooped low across my path to make sure that I would notice him and flew up to hide in a tree. Ah, I thought. Remember to use your head!

I find helpful messages as well as amusement in noticing what goes on around me, especially in nature, and to interpret these events as gifts from beyond yet given in this material world: concrete reminders of truths that, though intangible, still permeate our reality and provide actual life guidance.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Time to Tear Down

 “A time to plant and a time to uproot,
…A time to tear down and a time to build.”
                                        Ecclesiastes, 3:2-3

I am in the process of uprooting, of tearing down something dear to me, something that I have devoted the past twenty years of my life to building up. For every working day in all these past years, I have found myself giving thanks for my lovely and peaceful office space, for my loyal massage clients, for the gift of healing that is in my hands, for the opportunity to earn my livelihood doing something that I absolutely love.

This past year, beginning with a kind of delayed onset muscle soreness in my deltoids, which spread down to my biceps and triceps, and then into my forearms and into the joints of my hands, I have had a slow but nonetheless rude awakening to the reality of needing to discontinue my practice of massage. And actually, it began before that, on a spirit level, with a vision of rising up and leaving behind my current status quo, my own self-created inner paradigm, the boundaries with which I unconsciously encircled my way of being. I had no idea what this was to entail, but I did inherently know that it was good.

I experienced this vision at the end of June. The shoulder ache began shortly after. At the time, I did not see the connection. I thought it would just work itself out and go away, like any usual ache or pain. I didn’t know that it had arrived to escort me into my future life. But it has served as an effective messenger: I cannot think of any way I would have been convinced that I am to leave off with the massage therapy profession other than the physical inability to carry on.

So, brick by brick I have dismantled my practice: first I cut my hours back to part time, in an effort to allow my body to recover. I practiced self care and sought help from a variety of healers. After a time, I came to realize that I needed to sell my office space and downsize to a smaller overhead, if I was only going to be able to work part time. Only recently has it finally gotten through to me that I need to close up shop and discontinue massage all together. The most difficult part, after the initial shock of it to my own psyche, has been saying goodbye to my clients.

I am going about this uprooting, this tearing down, this deconstruction, as I would go about a gardening task. I am clearing the garden plot, pulling out the old, turning the soil. The process is chore-oriented, and the end result is as yet unseen. Nonetheless, I endeavor to do the work joyfully, with consciousness, trust, patience and hope.

I have faith that this time of death will lead to rebirth; this time of uprooting will have its cycle of planting and new growth which yields another harvest. These days of darkness are turning back toward the light; this winter will awaken into spring. I have lived long enough to believe, to know this is true.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
                                                                                                               Ecclesiastes 3:1


Photo by Elizabeth Lies

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Poem for Transition

It seems that the year of 2015 has been, as promised, a year of shift for many of us. Inner or outer, or both. Being in the middle of metamorphosis can be a rich time of unknowing, of letting go, of opening, of trust. There are many lessons and experiences to be embraced. There may be fears and old ways of thinking to be discarded.

For myself, I have resurrected my Island Prayer, a poem/prayer composed in 2008 with direct help from beyond: it came floating down from the sky and settled in my right brain already whole and entire. I only had to write it down. This poem speaks to me of waiting and openness, of asking and of trust. It preceded a year of great changes in my own life. It carried me through.

I share it in two of my published books, Chapters From the Farmhouse Journal and Wisdom Journey. I share it again here with any of you reading this who may want to use it as a prayer along the way for your own journey, for your own time of shift.



Island Prayer

On this island I am standing
I am looking all around.
On this island I am standing
I have come from very far.
I have come across the waters
Navigating by the stars.


The sea is all around me
The center is my soul
I wait for new direction
Taking in where I have been
I look to the horizon
I stand waiting to embark


I am open, I am open
I wait here with clear thought
Wisdom, knowledge, patience, courage
I carry them with me
Gifts of love and healing powers
And a boat to carry me


Come the wind to give direction
Come the sun to light the day,
Come the moon to whisper softly
Come the stars to tell the way.
Come the rains to birth my spirit,
Come the land to bless my journey
Come the ocean deep surrounding,
Take my boat and carry me.

Laura Lander
June 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Nothing to Fear

We have nothing to fear…not even fear itself.

This subtle twist in the famous quote from FDR’s inaugural address came to me recently, for myself.

I was writing to a friend about current changes and uncertainties in my life. I wrote, “I have nothing to fear.” After a moment’s pause, I added, “Not even fear itself.”


For when we meet fear, looming before us larger than life, in our pathway, we have the freedom to choose to access that Presence within, and while still acknowledging fear, we can address it with “Thank you for your offer to accompany me on my way, but I don’t believe we are going in the same direction after all.”

Thus we consciously choose to turn aside from fear.

To move in a direction that is different than the one fear wants to take us.

Even if we have to remember to repeat the conversation over and over again. It becomes a practice, and with each repetition two things happen. One, our inner Presence becomes more readily accessible and, two, fear recedes. We can all take heart: practice makes progress.

This has applications large and small: from fear of spiders, to fear of public speaking, to fear in the dark at night, to fear of loss, to fear of death…

When we are free from fear, we are truly free.