Empty Nest

I felt alternately clingy and self-composed that I was letting him go. On the way home the tears were non-stop. I did not think I would feel this way when we dropped off our second and youngest child at college just over a year ago. I had not felt this way when our eldest went to college three years earlier.  He was very ready to fly away and I was ready for it, too. I had helped my son with his college application and we drove the four hours for his freshman orientation. It had to be empty nest syndrome because I could not come up with another answer for my feelings.

My son had been ready since high school graduation. He’d made purchases for his dorm room from bedding and cleaning supplies to a cache of snacks and his PlayStation. He had all the necessary supplies. It may be innate and it may be Boy Scout preparedness but he’s always been organized and ready.  He knows what he wants and takes action. As a Bear cub in Cub Scouts he told me that he was going to go all the way and pursue his Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting, and he did.

I have wondered why the empty nest syndrome affected me more with my son than my daughter. Was it simply that there were no more children at home? Or was it something else? I do not play favorites with my children but I have felt more protective of my son for reasons I can’t describe. Looking back, though, I saw the clues that may have been there all along.

When he was younger my son loved playing war battles with his small plastic army men, like a lot of boys. He always won. He was and is still very interested in war history, particularly World War II. His scout troop once had a sleepover on the destroyer USS Slater in Albany, N.Y. where his dad accompanied him. When his dad showed me the pictures of our son on the ship with his fellow scouts wearing a WWII – era helmet, I froze. Something in that photo triggered a flashback to the night when my husband and I were watching “Saving Private Ryan” on DVD. We stayed in a lot then. We had a two year old daughter and I was about five months pregnant with our son. I did not know then the sex of the baby. I like good surprises.

So watching that movie was another clue. By the end of the movie I was in hysterics and I did not understand why. What came to me as I was writing this was, “Was I afraid of losing him again?” This was a past life event unfolding.

After my son obtained his Eagle Scout at 18, he did what all young men in the United States must do: register with the Selective Service. I was anxious and blurted out ‘What if you get selected?’ His reply was: “What’s wrong with wanting to serve your country?”  My feelings were completely brushed aside by my pride in this young man that I helped raise.

I recently read something by a spiritual teacher who reminded me that our children come through us not of us. My children chose me to be their mom for a reason. Human mothers carry their children for nine months and rear for about 18 years unlike baby birds who hatch out of egg shells and are nurtured for a short time until they are nudged out of the nest when it is time for them to leave. Unless that bird knows when it is his time to fly.    

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

Taking Back My Power

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The following is one of my past life recalls; names purposely omitted.

 I see a man and a woman in a wooden alcove – is it passion or violence?  Violence. The person I see is a man in that life – who is a woman in my current life. The man is above me. We’re almost hidden but no one thinks anything of it. ‘She’ is speaking low telling me how to behave – to not scream. I’m fearful but listening. This person has power over me. It’s something I have to give in to. He does it to every woman.

I try to find out what country and era I’m in. The Mediterranean area comes to me, possibly during the Renaissance era. He resembles a monk with a brown robe that falls down to his mid-calf, I can see his trousers – or whatever they’re called in that time. He has a bald spot on his head and carries a stick.  I think he’s a shepherd, although, I see him using the stick to push through the water as he walks away.

I ask my spirit guide who is with me why this is happening.  I get “He has no power and he wants it.” Women are powerless in this time and it’s easy for him to take advantage of them. He has hiding spots and a lot of time.

For nearly five years a woman that I had worked with, who abused her power over and over, was abusive to me, as well as to many other women that I worked with.  I would wake up in the morning and my first thought was of her and how I dreaded seeing her. It was toxic. I have felt fear and anger, even when I was no longer working with her, that I couldn’t place and could not let go of. I knew there was something that I had to overcome. I had thought it was realizing that I was not a victim and on a full moon I released that I was no longer a victim. It helped for a time. But the fear and anger persisted.  I knew that I needed to forgive and forget. So I did that. Eventually, the fear dissipated, but the anger was still ever present. I thought about professional therapy; therapy, I thought, would take too long to rid the anger that was swirling inside of me. I wanted to release it with a magic wand.  Instead, I prayed for a solution.

That solution came during this past life recall at a group meditation. That night I thoughtfully chose a question, an intention to understand my situation. I wrote it down and slipped into meditation. As I have shared in previous essays, our souls choose all of our relationships, lessons, and experiences before we reincarnate into another life here on earth. We choose who we want to learn our lessons with; we choose our family and other life lessons that we want to work on in this human journey. We also can choose to work out a karmic contract which is what I had with this woman.

That night in meditation I healed myself. There were no tears, only joy, as my metal shackles unlocked, freeing me from my contract. Finally, the karma was balanced.

No one has power over us. We only think they do. It is an illusion if we could only see it that way. But fear, which is also an illusion, is something that we’ve all learned to allow to control us, to have power over us, life after life after life. Until we learn to break that cycle. And we all have the power to do that.

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.”

 

 

 

 

….to forgive, divine.

Forgiveness; The act of forgiving or being forgiven. 2017-01-23-13.49.27.jpg.jpg

Forgiveness is for us – to forgive someone who has hurt us . To forgive is “for giving” to ourselves. We don’t have to forget what was done to us. We are not responsible for the burden. Forgiveness is getting rid of that burden so that we can move forward. Without forgiveness we remain right where we are.

A few years ago I went to see James Van Praagh at the local civic center, getting tickets as close to the stage  as possible – as soon as they went on sale. I didn’t get the meet and greet passes, just the tickets to see and hear what the famed medium had to say up close and not miss any wisdom he could share. He talked about the other side, his experiences, how he got started- his whole bio – pretty much everything I had already read about him.

Toward the middle of his appearance he was going to deliver messages from loved ones on the other side for a lucky few in the audience.  Before ending his monologue he wanted to preface the readings by stressing to everyone in attendance  in the auditorium the importance of being non-judgmental. He talked about why we should not judge people who have hurt us or wronged us and the reason for that is because of the Life Review.

When souls cross over to the other side they go through a life review. Every soul sees their life in review: the good, the bad and the ugly. Every soul that chooses to have a human experience  has a lesson or lessons to learn on planet earth. So, the purpose of the life review is to review our souls experience in that life. Did the soul accomplish the lesson or lessons? If not, the soul can choose to learn it in it’s next incarnation.  I can say I have finally learned one of my soul’s lessons after several life times. (My guides and I will be high-fiving in my booth!)

Sylvia Browne, Shirley Maclaine and others have written about the Life Review. There is a scene depicted in the 1991 movie “Defending Your Life” starring Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks. Both of their characters have crossed over and they and others enter their respective Life Review booths.  Shirley Maclaine has a cameo in the movie to explain to those who have just crossed over how to operate the Life Review machine.   

James explained  to everyone that when each of us transforms – from the physical world to the spirit world –  what the soul sees from this review is much harder to watch than having someone judge them harshly or any regret they have for what they should or should not have done during this lifetime.

Being judgmental is what humans do. I believe it is a habit that is learned in childhood and  through peer pressure and before you know it, it’s become an unhealthy, negative, and hurtful habit.

And the thing about being judgy is that it doesn’t only hurt the person we’re judging, but like a boomerang it comes back to us. So, in effect we are hurting ourselves when we judge others. It’s one of those universal laws that what we put out comes back to us.

I have forgiven a lot of people in my life, including myself – it is a good feeling. Sometimes I still judge (my human-ness) but I try to be mindful of the importance of not being judgmental. I really don’t want my Life Review to hurt too much. Life as it is here on earth hurts enough.

 

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.

 

 

The Super Moon Trifecta

It’s significant to me that there have been three full moon Super Moon’s in as many months. This has been a year of pivotal change. Shocking, jaw-dropping and heartbreaking change. Everyone has felt it on every level no matter what the loss or change.

October’s Harvest moon,  November’s Beaver moon and now this week’s Cold Moon (the moon nicknames were given by Native Americans -it was how the tribes kept track of the seasons) are significant to me because in this year of endings, we have been called to release, release, release during the last three months of 2016.

Okay…I get that a Super Moon is just a little closer to the earth than a typical full  moon (November’s was the closest!) but I find it very interesting that since October there have been three straight Super Moon’s.  I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that there is a reason for everything.  Time to take inventory and release.

What no longer serves us? What have we outgrown?  Release.

What do we need to heal so that we can move forward?  Release.

What do we need to change to bring about change?  Release.

People we work with or the job itself, lifestyle, relationships, habits: are these toxic?  Have you outgrown them?  Are you ready to release? Let them go.

This weeks Cold Moon and upcoming new moon are a great segue into the New Year with new opportunities, and time to start over.  Release the old during this week’s full moon; manifest the new  – use positive affirmations -on the new moon December 29, two days before New Year’s eve. Coincidence? No.

Best Wishes for all good things in 2017.