Finished Books

 

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I’m a book addict. I love books.  I collect books. I own a library card. I carry a membership card to a well known book store and I use it often. Thomas Jefferson once said “I cannot live without books.” I concur.

In fact, I generally have four or five books going at any time. That is I’ll read a book for a bit, put it down and then repeat the process with about 3 or 4 other books. They’re not all just random books or the newest books that I cannot keep up with. There really is a method to my madness. But, a couple of months ago I realized that the madness had taken over and it needed to have an ending.

And so, I made a goal this year to finish any books I had previously started.  Two of the books for research purposes have post it notes riddled with arrows, notes and punctuation so that I can go back to them as needed. Two of the books were inspirational memoirs sprinkled with humor. And still another was a tome by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

About five years ago I saw an exhibit on Thomas Jefferson’s book collection at the mother of all libraries – the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. This exhibit consisted of Jefferson’s bookshelves with his 10,000 book collection! The founding father had a variety of books on all topics. There were the books you would expect to see on the shelf of a farmer, lawyer, politician, and Declaration of Independence author.  Surprisingly or not, there were books by Voltaire and Moliere; Homer and Shakespeare; as well as books on Plato, languages, astronomy, philosophy and religion.  I wonder if he read his books sporadically.

But, it was still time to finish my current collection of unfinished books. Cold, winter nights and snowy weekends are great for curling up with a good book and I took advantage of the cold nights next to a warm fire. At around the moment I committed to this, I realized that I may not have been alone in my decision. I felt a nudge from the universe, a reminder, that it was time to get ready to move forward. Was finishing the books a metaphor for finishing goals? Books equal knowledge. Lessons have been learned.  It’s time for me to let go of the past and move forward to the next level in my spiritual awakening.

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing the Future

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As we get ready to leave this year behind and look ahead to 2017 there will be wishes, New Year’s resolutions and goals that we will set for ourselves and try – not always unsuccessfully – to see through and attain.  Career, love life and making or saving more money are the usual desires. We pray and hope that they will come to us. There is another way to clearly see what goals or dreams we should aim for and ways to find out how to begin achieving them. It’s something like magic. This process or tool is called divination.

Divination is a method for getting messages from the universe: God, angels, ascended masters, goddesses, saints and even the fairies. It’s okay if you don’t believe in any of them. It’s not required. But it may help to know who may be communicating with and helping you. There are different spiritual divination tools and some we use every day. There are dreams (the night time kind & day dreams – where we zone out), crystals, tarot cards, and meditation. 

 Carl Jung was the first to say that dreams came directly from Source and that they come to us while we sleep. He studied his dreams, symbols and archetypes and decoded them. From his research he identified what symbols and archetypes were and how to interpret dreams, the types of dreams and where they come from.  He believed, unlike his mentor Sigmund Freud that the messages came to us – that they were not our unconscious thoughts – decompressing and de-stressing from the labors and events of our human day. So, through our dreams we receive symbols and archetypes (universal symbols for example mother, mountain and numbers). Every symbol has usually one or possibly two different meanings and is not always the same for each individual – it depends on the other symbols in the dream, the context of the dream and what it means to the dreamer. We can use intention to find the answer to a problem. Very simply say what you would like a solution for before you go to sleep and if the answer doesn’t come to you by the time you wake up, it will eventually come to you…when it is meant to.

The stereotypical picture of the gypsy fortuneteller with a scarf wrapped about her head staring into a crystal ball originated from a divination method called scrying. Scrying was popular for many thousands of years from the ancient Celts up until the early 20th century. Scrying methods included mirror gazing, water viewing, fire gazing as well as crystal gazing. By staring into the crystal, mirror, water or fire, one could “see” what their future held.

The most popular divination tool for the last twenty plus years is the tarot card. Probably created in the 1700’s as a card game, it is now used by anyone who wants to foretell their future or divine answers and solutions to problems. Anyone can learn to read their own cards, however sometimes a more comprehensive card reading can come from a psychic/medium. They can “see” or “hear” what the average person cannot. And it’s fun and therapeutic at the same time.

Awareness is by far one of the best spiritual divination tools. And all we need to do is make sure that we are aware of signs: butterflies, birds, songs on the radio, and repetitive phrases and numbers to name a few. Hone your “gut” feelings and act on your intuition. You can incorporate your crystals or give yourself your own tarot card reading. A meditation practice also helps with awareness.

Set your positive intention, divine it –by whichever method you prefer –and then pay attention for the signs that your wish has been acknowledged and is being worked on by the angels, saints, a deity or even God or Source if you would rather use that name. The important thing is to choose which method works better for you for the manifestation of your dreams.

 

 

A Clean Slate

 

 

When I was thinking about what to write and what message to convey, change kept coming up. I know I’ve been writing a lot about change and transformation lately, however this has been an exceptional year of change. Change can be frightening. Fear takes over when someone is suddenly faced with losing their job; relationships end; loved ones pass away, living situations change. It can feel like the end of the world.  We all know it happens; life is dynamic; seasons come and seasons go. It’s the Universal Law of Rhythm. Where there are endings there must always be a beginning.

Why it happens and when it happens and sometimes how it happens is a clue, a nudge from the universe. It’s time to leave the past behind and move on. Start over. I can now feel when change needs to happen, like a band aid concealing a healed wound. The band aid needs to be ripped off.  Moving forward despite the pain of loss can make it difficult to believe that something better or different is just up ahead.

Nearly thirty years ago I had a major life change that was preceded by a chain of events that at the time I thought would never end. I moved into a new apartment in a new city,  and started a new job. I was young, living on my own, advancing in a career and had a new man in my life.  I thought my life and my future seemed promising. I did not see the train coming down the track.

Three months later – although it felt longer than that – my life became challenging and I was faced with choices. Everything good that came together almost at the same time, started to fall apart the same way. Sexual harassment was common in the workplace in the 1980’s and women who worked in male dominated industries were fair game. Even the man in my life whom I thought I could trust was in on the game. The relationship ended; I abruptly left my job; I had to leave my apartment and move back home, stunned, humiliated and broke.

I actually hit rock bottom. There was nowhere else to go except up. A month later,  a new and different career was waiting for me as well as better opportunities and new friends. I was still shaking a little but my life was improving.

The changes we have all been experiencing or witnessing in the past eleven months are nothing new. For thousands of years throughout history there have been many endings:  empires, religions, and cultures. There have always been confrontations, disputes and protests that are seen in  politics, war and witch hunts. There will always be those times in our lives that call for us to cut and run, to grieve, to move forward, to wipe the slate clean and start over and create a new beginning in our lives.

A Season of Change

 

 

Fall always reminds me of Demeter’s anger and sorrow at the seasonal sacrifice of her daughter Persephone to Hades. The coming of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), a pagan fall festival at the end of October, the time of year that the ancient Celts marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. And this past weekends Hunter moon, the first of three  SuperMoons of this year. No pun intended, but this is huge. Watch what happens around these SuperMoon’s. That’s the goddess within me speaking.

SuperMoon or not, fall is a time for reflection before moving on to whatever comes next. I think back over the last ten months at all that has changed in my life and in the world. I look forward with curiosity to what the remainder of this year will bring. Personally, this has been a year of tremendous spiritual growth for me and continues to be. I have grown in other ways as well.

I have recently launched my website: lsheridan.com which is still in its growth period. And this year will see the publication of a children’s book, “Last Night I Dreamt…. A Guide to Dreams and Dream recall” It’s a guide for tweens, teens and parents of younger children, but really everyone will get insight from reading it. And, I hope to publish another book next year. Now I understand what my dream of babies was about! Giving “birth” to something new.

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“You reflect on the people who used to be in your life and it’s like, ‘Wow. I can’t believe that person was ever really in my life.’ But people are put into your life for seasons, for different reasons and to teach you lessons.”

~Selena Gomez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other ‘F’ Word: Fear

 

Fear unfortunately is all around us: world events, politics and heart wrenching or mind reeling stories that the media reports. It has caused many of us to become more anxious about not only our future but our children’s future. I don’t watch the news or read the New York Times anymore.  It’s just too much for me. By choosing to not watch, listen or read the news, I have chosen to avoid most of it. I will not buy into it; I will not be a party to it. I have noticed how sick and tired, literally, I become of this thing called fear which takes on a life of its own. Fear is pervasive. We absorb the fear and toxic or negative energies around us.

I don’t pretend that world events and soul shattering situations don’t exist. I’m not burying my head in the sand like an ostrich. Which is actually a myth.  An ostrich only appears to have its head buried in the sand.  When the flightless bird senses danger and cannot run away it collapses its big body to the ground. Keeping still, it lays its head and neck flat on the ground in front of it. The white feathers on its head and neck blend in with the sand or dirt on the ground.  So, again, I’m not burying my head in the sand like an ostrich, rather I am removing myself from a difficult situation. I am choosing to avoid something that seems dangerous and in this political season many, many people want to talk about and share their opinions. I must say I have become very good at redirecting the topic.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary describes fear as:  an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.

An awareness of danger…. How do we become aware of fear? I believe that fear is learned. We have learned since childhood to be afraid:  fear of not pleasing someone (authority, religion, family) and being punished harshly for it; a lack of abundance of money, food or love, and afraid of being without it again in the future; prejudices and witch hunts.  Like Pavlov’s dog, we have been trained to be fearful.

To be honest I have lived a part of my life feeling anxious and living in fear.  But, I have learned to step away from it. Fear can be un-learned.

What we fear (an object, a person, socializing, death, something emotional, physical or spiritual) manifests itself in our everyday actions and in each individual (mind, body and spirit). We become sick – physically and mentally. We become fearful of persons or situations and create scapegoats. The more energy we put out to this fear thing, the more power we have given it. This is exactly what is happening right now in our world whether it’s as big as world events and politics or as small as our own personal dramas. As this year has progressed, this fear thing has been intensifying.

The 32nd president of the United States assured Americans in the throes of the Great Depression in his first Inaugural address “…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. “

Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.  While Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech to elevate the American people applied 80 years ago, I have wondered if this can apply to our World now.

Can we choose to be free from fear?

 

*Photos taken by the author at Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C.