Jumping Ahead to the End

Ann was a friend of mine who liked to read the last chapter of nearly every book she ever read first. The exception was the occasional biography or non-fiction book of pre-twentieth century British Monarchy. She already knew how their lives ended, but she enjoyed the details and history of their lives. Other than wanting to know how the story ended, I never really understood why Ann did this. She would only say that she wanted to see how the story ended first. Now, I wonder if she was looking for a happy ending in her own life’s story.

Maybe I reading too much into it. For me, jumping ahead to the end first would ruin the (hopefully) happy conclusion. I like the drama of the heroine or hero who are victorious over the antagonist. The wonder and romance of boy-gets-girl or girl-gets-girl or boy-gets-boy. And, if while I’m reading a book with drama, adventure, romance or magic, I’ll ponder if it is leading up to a sequel. Oh, the anticipation.

There is one story’s ending I would like to know the outcome of. The Pandemic. Now here I would agree with Ann. When will it end? What will the new normal look like and when will it happen? And, what will my life look like post-pandemic?

The ennui of quarantine, the nail-biting moments, the sad stories, the violence and other drama of this past year, feels like a story without an end now. However, there are other moments we can enjoy like how the glass of wine tastes, the colors in nature, things my children said, shows we binge watched, and all those other nuances that fill out a story. I am doing my best to stay in the moment – it hasn’t always been easy these last twelve months. I’m trying to stay present so that I’ll have a fuller, richer story to tell one day.

It ‘s been said that the end goal – the dream job, dream partner, dream house or whatever the dream is – is not the destination. It’s all part of the journey.

Spiritual Toolbox

**All photographs by Leslie Sheridan

 

 

The energies of the past month have been so intense, where I was feeling like I was in a vortex that I couldn’t pull myself out of some days and other days I was on the mother of all emotional roller coasters. These intense energies went away with a bang culminating with last night’s full moon and Mercury in Retrograde leaving today. Fortunately I had a long weekend to sit, reflect, meditate, give myself Reiki and walk in nature.
When life gets crazy or hard, or when the energies are spinning us around like a fast spinning merry-go-round we need our spiritual toolboxes. Sensitive people like me are especially sensitive to other people’s energies: at work, shopping or at the amusement park.
Spiritual toolboxes are a necessity not only when there is so much going on in the world but anytime you need help keeping your mind, body and spirit together. Going for a walk in the park or on the beach; grabbing a good book and parking ourselves in a comfortable chair; meditation; affirmations, prayer and gratitude; and a spiritual support group – an actual support group or call all the angels, saints, deities, God, or Jesus; or all of the above. And when all else fails – just breathe.
When everything gets crazy or chaotic and confusing sometimes our first reaction is not always breathing or praying. We can make a practice of finding peace within when everything on the outside isn’t. Its peace we really want. Peace of mind, a peaceful space, a peaceful life.
There may be more intense energies yet to come this year as well as both a Super moon and Mercury going retrograde again in December. What’s in your spiritual toolbox?

 

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Totem Animals

129_129I have always loved butterflies. Their beauty and the gentle fluttering of their wings; they’re so easy going and free. And they were everywhere. I collected and received as gifts (because my family and friends knew how much I loved butterflies) almost everything with this beautiful insect on it: journals, note cards, jewelry, home décor and clothing. And they could be seen nearly everywhere: outside, in magazines and in the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I was in heaven – there were hundreds of butterflies flying free.
I recall when my love for butterflies began as a young adult. Around that time I remember hearing an older song on the radio by Elton John whose song had the line, ‘…You’re a butterfly and butterflies are free to fly.’ I remember thinking that it was a message for me. It was. The butterfly was my totem animal for many years.

Not only do we have guardian angels and spirit guides (loved ones who have passed on and have chosen to help us with our journey from the other side), we also have spirit animal guides or totem animals. They are messengers that come in and out of our lives depending on the need for them and where we are on our journey. We can have more than one spirit animal at any given time during our journey here. We don’t choose the animals to be our guide, they choose us. These messengers can be a favorite animal. How can we explain why they are our favorite animal? If the animal chooses us, then we must know this consciously via our subconscious that we really love dogs or horses or butterflies. Totem animals can also be our pet; they can be animals that appear to randomly cross paths with us; and they can visit us in our dreams.
In my book, “Last Night I Dreamt…a guide to dreams and dream recall”, I talk about a young woman who told me of her dream involving a tiger. It walked up to her and got her attention; it wanted her to follow it somewhere. The tiger was leading her to where she should be going on her journey; it was helping her move forward. While I was interpreting her dream it came to me that the tiger was not a symbol, but rather her totem animal. I had asked her if the tiger was her favorite animal and she confirmed that it was.
There have been a few random animals that have made contact with me. Recently, a rather tall turkey (a symbol of sacrifice and abundance) stood next to my car for almost half an hour; I waited until it left before I got into my car.  And, a few years ago I had stopped to write something down in my journal while I was hiking and with my peripheral vision I noticed something walking next to me. It was a coyote (relaxation, have fun, be present) going about its business, but close enough to get my attention. It all seemed random until I read their meaning on spirit-animals.com and interpreted the messages. (*FYI- I have found this website to be an excellent source of information for interpreting not only your totem or random animal but dream interpretations for animal visitations as well.) Spirit-animals.com says that animals that we feel a strong connection with are influential to us and will teach us something about ourselves. My cats Zippy, Mimi and Max have taught me much and I’m still learning from them.

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My butterfly totem of twenty years fluttered away a few years ago (I still see them occasionally). The butterfly symbolizes transformation – think about the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis – and accepting change. Having accomplished that, a new totem flew into my life a few years ago. The dragonflies come to see me every day on my veranda. They’re here to help me on the next wing of my journey.

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**All photos by Leslie Sheridan

The Detour

A recent hike with my camera in hand led me to a beautiful spot with a little leftover snow from a recent snowfall.  The path was an off shoot or smaller trail, of the main path, with the early morning sun filtering through the trees. Click. It was a beautiful shot. What I would not find out for another three and a half miles was that the picture I just took was a clue.
It was a perfect mid-winter Sunday morning. And so I went along the path, looking at the trees, the snow covered rocks and frozen stream. Being on this trail that early morning was just what I needed: cleanse my aura, get fresh air, and really just being out in nature – my favorite place to be. The trail has hills, gorgeous trees, and a stream running under a wooden bridge. It really is picturesque all four seasons.
One of the great things about taking an early morning hike is that there really aren’t many people on the trail.  It’s not anti-social; rather this time is spiritual – Sunday and the other six days of the week.  I don’t really think about things while I’m hiking. I allow myself to just be in the moment, although occasionally my mind does wander, as it did this day. The funny thing is I have daydreamed before on this trail, so I don’t understand how I lost my way. I was walking along the path for a while before I realized that the texture of the ground beneath the inch or so of snow left did not feel right or familiar to me. I did not recall there being small mounds of fall leaves or rocks jutting up through the ground. This path was lumpy; not clear or smooth like the path I had started out on.
The nearly three mile hike became a four mile hike. I wondered if there was a reason I subconsciously took a detour. Perhaps it was a route I chose to take to avoid something –on a metaphysical level. Was I meant to go off the path or was the universe allowing me to have a choice (free will). Or, I wondered, was it a reminder to stay aware while I’m on my path, to discern, to not be led by anyone or anything that might take me off the path. There is a reason for everything. Maybe if I had paused and listened to my inner self when I’d taken the picture, I may have heard “Stay on your path.”

 

 

 

 

Inspiration

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”  ~ Vincent Van Gogh

 

Like a lightning bolt, I never know when inspiration will strike.

Nature inspires me every day. I love the hues of blue and gray -whites on a really cold winter morning. I love how the sun dances off the water, glimmering sparkles of gold after a summer thunderstorm. I love the reds and golds of the fall foliage. I’m inspired by the textures of scenery – I love how it all comes together. I am always photographing it.

I’m inspired by a film with good, no, passionate acting and the cinematography. I love the beauty of film.

I’m inspired by art in the form of music, painting, drawing or photography, a play or musical. I love the passion that people exhibit through their work, their art.

I love a good book, not just a good book: literature. I love works by Tracy Chevalier and Patti Smith.

I’m inspired by people. People who live their lives with passion, a sense of adventure, an apparent acceptance of self so much so that they are content and able then to live in the present.

In high school I took a Humanities elective out of desperation. There was one other option that I would not take, the subject I don’t recall. So, I signed up for the comprehensive art class and was reluctantly accepted by the teacher. The class consisted of mainly art students and future art history majors. The teacher was refined and knew by looking at me that I didn’t deserve to be in his class – I was a bit rough around the edges but determined to stick it out in the class. Early on in the class there was a slide show of various paintings and other art pieces. One painting was Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy. He asked everyone in the class what we thought about the piece  and offer a description of it. I had seen this painting before and when it was my turn  to comment I said “I like it.”  The teacher said my answer was unacceptable. He wanted to know why I liked it.  

What I learned in this class stayed with me. It wasn’t the teacher, but rather the subject that inspired a love for the arts. When I go to art museums I really look at the piece, the colors, the subjects, the smallest details. What was the artist feeling, what did the artist wish to convey to us, or did the artist create it for themselves?

When I take photographs I don’t just see the scenery. I see texture and colors and light and I feel the emotions it evokes within me. Those are the elements of an art piece whether it’s a film, book, an historical piece in a museum, a painting, drawing or photograph. I am always interested, curious, grateful and inspired by life.