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I’ve spent a lifetime journaling. Of course I wanted to preserve happy and momentous occasions. But I largely reconstructed events from every which angle, seeking to understand why. Why did this befall me? Why did he, she, they treat me that way? Laying sentences like bricks to erect monuments to insult and injury, I made meticulous memorials of trauma and drama. Shrines built from it should have, or should not have happened this way or that; I should have been, or should not have been this or that. I realize, as I sit down to rebuild the latest drama with one of my daughters, that I don’t want to make an altar from our conflict. I glance at my notebooks shelved in chronological order reaching back decades. Suddenly I understand why Roger Housden burned 25 years’ worth of journals before embarking on his new life. An inventory of woe, an homage to suffering, cannot serve one’s dreams.

Hours after our drama, a writer friend offhandedly commented that in one’s imagination, one can be and do anything. In fact, as I write this, another non-coincidence shows up through a Dove chocolate:

And, a day later, I watched an IG reel on quantum entanglement: we co-create our lives through thoughts, beliefs, perspectives, and actions. These affirmations from seemingly disconnected instances are not random or disconnected. The biomachinery of existence responds to our intention and focus.

Before my daughter and I reconciled, I took an evening walk to reflect and plan for our conversation. Habit tried to drag me into the familiar construction of hurt, judgements, and ultimatums hurled, as though I needed to cobble yet another story on that narrow tower. Instead, I focused on my vision for relationship with my daughters. What would feel honoring and respectful and joyful? Clouds obscured night sky and it was quiet, breezeless. In a way, the stillness around and greyness above felt like an empty stage, a blank canvass. What will I sculpt? What will I paint? The words joy, gratitude, respect, and boundaries warbled like birdsong through me on the way home.

We entered conversation tentatively. I could feel the undertow of conflicting perspectives and unresolved feelings swirl, threatening to drown the song I had been singing. but I decided to give dreams more weight than wounds. I held fast to my vision of joy, gratitude, respect, and boundaries for our relationship.

Rather than being interred in spiral mausoleums, what I have experienced is raw material for my imagination. What a gift that is. Everything in life is sculptor's clay, painter's palette, a playwright's stage props. What can be created from such abundance? What are my dreams? For relationship? For vocation? What are my aspirations for how I spend my days, hours, and minutes? For each moment? What is my vision for the world and what is my dream role in it? What do I yearn to construct in the notebooks to come? That’s what I want to write.

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The prayer is thank you. If we understand our life as our guru, then whatever comes to us is for our evolution, emancipation, and empowerment. What interferes with that posture, that paradigm, is judgement. The perception that X circumstance, Y person or Z event is tragic, harmful, toxic, wrong, shameful, embarrassing, etc., eclipses revering our life as guru, eclipses gratitude. Judgement rains down as shoulda, woulda, coulda. Comes like a hailstorm of critique, comparison, and complaint. Judgement also keeps us in the pain of a situation because it imprisons and disempowers us. Our emancipation and peace are on the other side of that because our life is always inviting us to discover—to access—more power, deeper response-ability, wider options within. To choose gratitude in the face of what comes is both brave and vulnerable. Whatever it is, we have the opportunity to raise our consciousness, to evolve, through it. In this way we also contribute to the raising and evolving of the collective consciousness. Gratitude is our portal to empowerment and emancipation.

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Yes, leave the leaves for birds, bees and other insects. Yes, leave the leaves for soil health. Yes, leave the leaves because they'll support new plant growth.

But let's also leave the leaves for ourselves.

Earth is showing us, showering us, giving us abundance. Always. Why rake that abundance away? Why scour, shove and smash abundance into bags to be discarded? Why partake in rituals that insist on scarcity? Why deny what is generously given?

Even if we don't understand it, even if it seems messy. Maybe instead, be grateful for the exuberant colorful messiness. I suspect this could invite abundance into the parched places in our lives that have become too accustomed to scarcity. How might leaving the leaves provide shelter, nourishment and support for the us that longs to be drenched with the sweet smell of leaves, the kaleidoscopic autumnal palette, the splendorous heaven underfoot and all around?

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dissolving distances between self & other 
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