Merry Christmas 2015


Merry Christmas!

I offer my sincere wishes to each of you on this Christmas day for peace, joy, and love.  May you experience and know abundant blessings.

My heart feels expansive at this moment after some significant shifts within as I remember who I am as a child of God…an extension of God…a reflection of God, and as I allow God’s bright light / my bright light to be seen & then to stand in gratitude and awe of this same light in everyone around me as I soften to this beautiful world, breathing in the supreme, divine perfection of all.

This year’s Christmas benefit concert was an opportunity to join in community and to celebrate the sacred that was, that is, and that always will be.  I found meaningful connection in gathering with those in attendance and sharing our spirits and energy.

As I shared at the concert, there is indeed much pain in the world;  sorrow and sadness can be amplified during the holiday season when there seems to be an expectation of perfect families and jolly activities.  There is also much to celebrate.  There is peace and love underneath the heartache, and the peace and love can be arrived at when we release resistance and accept our present realities with authenticity and care.  I have come to see that it is all about remembering…remembering who we are and accepting our roles as co-authors of our world.  Along with God, we are constantly co-creating a world in which hope, peace, and love can thrive and endure.  I believe in more than Christmas.  I believe that every day is Christmas: a day of birth, of promise, of peace, and of understanding that what might seem imperfect to the naked human eye (a lowly manger / our seemingly broken lives) is to the holy heart perfection and the wellspring of bliss.
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Built on the Foundation of Love

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My new home is continuing to come along.  Progress is being made quickly, and I continue to marvel at how the process of building this new house parallels the process of building my life.  I have been building myself anew in many areas, and it is simultaneously exhilarating & terrifying, and there are so many lessons along the way.  With both my home building and my life building, I am striving to always build on the foundation of love.

I got an idea from my friend Kelly from Chicago.  She had told me about how her church had been installing new hardwood floors, and before the flooring was put down, members of the congregation were invited to come and write on the floorboards.  They could write a prayer, a quote, their name…

Last weekend, I invited some family members and friends to put their touch on my new home.  As I asked people to share messages on my floor, I thought about how I was really making this house my home.  The power of these words will always be there with me.  On any day years from now, when I am feeling defeated or afraid or confused, I can place my hands on the floor and be uplifted by the amazing messages that were offered to me.  It means so much to me that people from all different chapters of my life came together to grace my home and grace my life with incredible heartfelt words.  Prayers, song lyrics, pictures, personal messages, Bible verses, quotes, and some fun and light-hearted reminders will be my inspiration and guidance in every room of the house.  One of my creative friends Stan Stewart wrote an improvised poem on the occasion of my new home.  You can read his poem “Every Time” here: http://muz4now.com/2015/every-time-an-improv-poem/

I believe that our lives are shaped by every person whom we meet.  Each interaction that we have changes us in some way.  I believe that we carry with us in our bodies, our voices, and our unconscious stirrings…a piece of each person whose path has crossed ours.  For that reason, I find it fitting that so many people who mean so much to me have made their mark on my home.  As I walk on the floors of my new home, I remember that I am not alone in the world;  there are so many others traveling on the journey, and my life has been blessed by coming to meet and know them.

There were also several words and phrases and pictures that I added to the floor, as I recognize that I have a personal responsibility for erecting a strong and love-based foundation.  I can’t only lean on others to fill me up and support me.  Another special touch to the floors was a special signed letter and message that builder Curtis Bailey and his wife Dorothy placed under the floor in my meditation room.  Just like an artist signs the piece of artwork he or she has created, I feel that it is appropriate that Curt signs his name to this awesome construction that has been a product of his ideas, skills, and care.  I am honored to have blessings from Curt and his wife be forever a part of my future home.

I am humbled, blessed, amazed, uplifted, and even floored by the incredible foundation of love that has been co-created in the process of building my new home.  My heart is full of gratitude as I reflect on how my life has been touched and moved and graced by so many, and I am inspired to continue to build my life with such care.

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One hug away

one free hug

Today marks the last day of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 5-11, 2014.)  Today is also two months from the date of Robin Williams’ death, following his depression and suicide.  I wrote this spoken-word poem in August 2014 as part of my reflection after learning of Robin Williams’ journey.

 

I am one sigh away from hopeless.

One tear away from despair,

One bead of sweat away from exhaustion,

One track away from derailment,

One choice away from regret.

 

I am one pop-up ad away from a virus,

One dollar sign away from bankruptcy,

One digit away from a wrong number,

One dropped ball away from defeat.

 

I am one accusation away from indictment,

One degree away from the flames,

One vote away from impeachment,

One storm away from disaster.

 

My voice is growing louder;  my words are getting faster.

 

I am one heartbeat away from tachycardia,

One shock away from electrocution,

One mistake away from failure,

One bell toll away from the funeral.

 

I am one doubt away from a lost cause,

One signature away from resignation,

One sin away from the devil,

One broken bone away from a body cast,

One click away from ‘game over.’

 

I am running on fumes.

I am one key turn away from combustion,

One dress size away from losing my dignity,

One pulse away from abortion,

One hug away from good-bye.

 

I am one tragedy away from recognizing that we are all vulnerable, and no one is immune.

 

You today, me tomorrow,

Me today, you tomorrow.

Me, You, You, Me.

Today, Tomorrow, Now.

 

On the border straddling peace and chaos.

One foot planted on the balance beam.

It’s that close of a call.

 

We are all one rabbit pull away from the magic show.

Pull, pull, make him appear.

One hop away from sticking our landing.

My feet are shaking.

Look up, child.  Catapult.

Accept that we stand on moving ground.

 

We are one vow away from marriage,

One paint stroke away from mastery,

One dime away from a dollar,

One contraction away from birth,

One detour away from an amazing destination.

 

We are all one sunbeam away from a rainbow,

One sensation away from ecstasy,

One prayer away from salvation,

One Hallelujah away from Heaven,

One leap of faith away from enlightenment.

 

When you are one x away from y,

things can go either way.

It can happen to you, to me, to them, to us.

Listen.  Look around.  Practice gratitude.  Practice love.

 

Anxiety, depression, people.

It’s about people.  It’s about heart.

You are not alone.  I see in.

 

He was one laugh away from you and me.

He was one smile away from healing.

And we are too.

 

Please don’t judge what you haven’t experienced.

It’s no more foreign than French fries and French kisses.

We are all one heartfelt hug away from each other.

There are only two things you need to say,

“You matter,” and “I care.”

 

Copyright © 2014 by Susan M. Featro, Voice Lifted.  All Rights Reserved.

Recommitment to Love

 

15.August.2014

 

To the man I witnessed on my walk, screaming at his dog and picking him up by his neck in anger after the dog had run ahead of him out the door…

 

It really bothered me when I witnessed you yell in such anger at your pet and then chase after him and pick him up by his neck.  As I took a walk yesterday with my friend, I was walking with a heavy heart.  I had just spent some quiet time with my cat Song who only has a short time left with my family.  She has an oral tumor.  I had just cleaned out the clear drainage from her eye that moistened her nose bridge & turned to God with a tear in my eye and prayed that Song would not suffer and that we would make the decisions that were best for her.  I had just knelt down to pet Song and felt barely able to stand up again, as my whole body felt shaky in allowing myself to feel the fear about what comes next.  I noticed I was barely breathing as I stood face to face with the frailty and fragility of life.

 

I tell you this not to make you sad.  I tell you this to urge you to celebrate.  Celebrate yourself, and celebrate your dog.  Celebrate your time together.  Celebrate even his misbehaviors, because they are signs of life.  When he runs excitedly out the door, forgetting that he’s supposed to wait for you, overcome by the excitement of a beautiful, sunny day, fresh air, and people passing by, call him back and run after him with love in your heart, and then hug him.  Hug him, and let him know you care.  Let him know your life is better, because he’s with you.  Let him know you’ll be with him until the end and will cradle his head as he takes his last breaths, remembering the times you played together and holding close to your heart that still frame of his furry face, reconnecting with that sweet feeling of walking in the door and knowing someone missed you and could not contain his excitement that you were home again.

 

I am not a judgmental person.  I do not wish to criticize your ability to parent your dog, and I do not intend to chastise you as a person.  I freely and willingly admit that I have been overwhelmed by life at many points, frustrated when others didn’t listen to me, tired of stuff going wrong again and again.  I have screamed, said things I didn’t mean, and have hurt people whom I care about.  I’ve been at my wit’s end.  I’ve made choices that have been rooted in fear and resentment.  I have approached tender hearts with violent words that raged and wounded.  I’ve been broken and breathless after life threw incredible twists my way.  And eventually, I returned to love.  Thankfully, I returned to love.

 

My letter here is an invitation and a reminder.  Please take some time today and look in the eyes of those you love – humans and pets.  Simply and quietly say, “I love you.”  Say anything else that’s on your heart.  Breathe together.  Enjoy the sensations as you stroke your lover’s skin or pet your best friend’s fur, and know this moment is a gift that will not always be available to you.  Vow to hug more often.  Slow down and make time for walks outside and playful exchanges.  Remember to laugh at silly things.  Appreciate.  Wag more and bark less.  Purr more and hiss less.  Forgive.  Allow for mistakes – on others’ part and on your part.  And if you are a person who prays, please offer up a prayer for my cat Song and for me and for every pet who is facing health challenges and approaches his or her final days.  Send some positive energy out to those pet parents who are taking their dogs for that final walk and loading their cats into a carrier to get that lethal injection because the suffering has grown too unbearable and there is no cure.  And I will think of you in a wave of compassion and bless you and your dog.  Thank you for reading this, and thank you for inspiring my reflection and my recommitment to love across the board.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Susan M. Featro, Voice Lifted.  All Rights Reserved.

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