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Welcome Home

April 12th, 2019

I stood along the third base side at Citi Field wearing my David Wright jersey on the last day of the 2018 season. I was there to both cheer on the Mets and honor my dad, who passed away in early September. I brought three orchids to represent each of his daughters and asked security after the game if I could leave them on the field. I had shared about my dad’s love of the Mets and his recent passing. Security allowed me to place the flowers on the field along the third base side. I released each flower with love and gratitude to my dad – a life-long Mets fan. It was a beautiful tribute and I cried the whole time.

When tickets came on sale for the 2019 season, I had to buy Opening Day tickets. I had to keep the Mets baseball traditions and memories alive. One of the rituals I had with my dad was talking about the Mets rosters, line-ups, and who we would have starting each game. So as April 4th rolled around, I could feel both the joy and sadness rise up in me. I felt the longing of missing my Mets conversations with my dad and the joy of cheering along with the sold-out crowd.

As the 7-train pulled into Mets-Willets Field Station, I felt my dad with me. I walked up to Citi Field with great pride. I looked up at the sky and winked and knew my dad was watching. He would have been thrilled I was at Opening Day and would have asked me, “How did you arrange getting those tickets?”

Inside the stadium, I took in the familiar views and sounds of Citi Field. I walked along the Field Level and saw Mr. Met. There was an area that fans could go to take pictures with him. I stood on line thinking it would be a cute photo to share. When my turn came, Mr. Met looked at me, opened his arms and gave me a big hug. I felt my dad was saying, “I’m here. Welcome home.” We stood together taking numerous photos.

I am sure there will be more reminders that my dad is always with me. And on Opening Day, I felt my dad’s presence and heard his booming voice, “Welcome Home.”

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

A Meditation on Gratitude

March 28th, 2019

What would our life be like if we inhaled and exhaled gratitude? Let’s experience more gratitude with each breath.

Take a nice slow breath – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Soften your gaze. Make your spine long and tall. Allow your shoulders to drop away from your ears.

How are you breathing? Allow yourself to breathe in and breathe out. And with your next breath, hear the words: Thank You.

Take a deeper breath. Allow more gratitude to come in and exhale and allow more gratitude to go out. Allow your mind and heart to take in more and let go more.

Listen and send the mantra Thank You to every part of your body. Allow the mantra to move more deeply within. Breathe in and out. Follow the inhalation and exhalation. Follow your brilliance. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

Direct your hand to the center of your chest – your heart center. Direct the words Thank You to your heart center. Allow the gratitude to grow in and around you. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

Carry this mantra with you. Notice when you are not in gratitude. Thank You. Notice what takes you closer to gratitude. Thank you. Notice how we can be gratitude with each breath. Thank You.

The invitation today is to thank at least three people today.
Thank you.

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Posted in Gratitude | Toning the Om

The Old Man and the Lake

March 13th, 2019

I recently took a three-week vacation to Florida. It was the first one in over a year and came five months after my dad’s passing. I needed time to pause. I needed time to relax. I needed time to breathe. I needed time to honor my grief.

One of my grief rituals included long walks around Lake Osborne. My walks were slow and deliberate. I took in the scenery, the palm trees, the birds, the fauna and anything and anyone who crossed my path. As I stood in my favorite spot, a great blue heron flew near me and just sat. As walkers passed by, they said, “Oh, you’ve met the Old Man.” They were referring to the great blue heron which would sit on the edge of the water.

After taking photos, I walked as close as I could without scarring this beautiful bird – the old man. It was watching me as much as I was watching it. I love nature and synchronicity and when the two come together, I listen.  I felt there was meaning and a message that this great blue heron had for me. In the shamanic world, the great blue heron is known to be the massager of grace in times of transition between the worlds.

In North America Native Traditions, Blue Herons have the innate wisdom of being able to maneuver through life and co-create their own circumstances. Blue Herons reflect a need for those with this totem to follow their unique wisdom and path of self-determination. Those with the Medicine of the Great Blue Heron follow the promptings of their heart and are one of the most magnificent when they choose to soar.

Just sit. Just walk, Just breathe. Just cry. Just love. That was the message from the old man at the lake.

For the first two weeks of my trip, I saw the old man on my daily walks. By the last week, he was gone. There were other great blue and little blue herons around the lake, but it wasn’t the old man. It took me a few days before I realized I had spent most of the vacation following the prompting of my heart and it was time for me to soar.

Listen to the messages around you. Listen to nature. We are all being breathed.

And to the “Old Man,” thank you.

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Inner Sunset

February 23rd, 2019

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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

Let Love Show You the Way

February 4th, 2019

Sometimes we just need to listen.
Sometimes we just need the quiet.
Sometimes we just need to reflect.
Sometimes we just need to be alone.
Sometimes we just need to be with by friends.
Sometimes we need to lead.
Sometimes we need to follow.
And sometimes, actually most times, we need to let love show us the way.  

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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

A Reflection on Devotion

January 11th, 2019

When I picked my word/mantra for 2018, I had no idea just how powerful it would be. My word for 2018 was: Devotion. I thought that word would be all about “Devotion” to stillness, to meditation, to love, to service, to creating, to healing, to traveling, to causes, to writing, to connections, and to nourishing peace.

What I didn’t know was that devotion to family and time. It was a year devoted to my dad as he spent most of the year ill. It was a year  devoted to time and spending as much as possible with my dad and family. And it was a year devoted to love.

As I reflect on what was a difficult and sad year, I will always be grateful for the devotion I had for my family and their devotion to me.

Perhaps I didn’t choose the word devotion for 2018, rather devotion had chosen me.

Dedicated to beloved father who passed away in September.

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Posted in Gratitude | Toning the Om

Return of the Light

December 21st, 2018

2018 has been a tough year for me and my family. My dad was ill for most of the year and passed away in September. My sisters and I spent a lot of time with him making sure he had good care and spending every possible moment we could with him. We all miss him terribly and the darkness of the season is felt deep within each of us. We have spent this year nurturing, worrying, grieving, and longing. The darkness of the season has felt long.

And yet, there is a promise of light – a Winter Solstice. There is a reminder that we grow in the darkness. We feel hope in the unknown. And we return to the light. Each day will grow longer, and those long dark nights will grow shorter.

Perhaps we will feel the return of the light. It will take time. We will feel our dad’s light within us – the joy and love and humor he shared with everyone he met. His story, and our story will carry on because we carry him in our hearts. It is the most primordial feeling there is – love. And that love becomes our primordial light.

As Alberto Villoldo shares, “Primordial Light is the creative power of the Universe which is available to us to create beauty in the world, and to heal ourselves and others. But to work with Primordial Light we must remember the way of the luminous warrior. We must live and act fearlessly, know the answer to “Who am I?” and the ways beyond death into infinity.”

The path towards light always begins in the dark. It’s how seeds grow. It’s how we grow.

The Solstice is a reminder that light emerges out of darkness. The most holy darkness is the deepest darkness.

May we fully emerge out the darkness into a greater light for all to feel.

Happy Solstice.

This is dedicated to my beloved sisters, Kathleen and Dawn. They are bright lights in the world.

 

 

 

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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

Flickering Light

December 6th, 2018

Our light goes in and out.
We find ourselves again and again.
And we lose ourselves again and again.
Sometimes we need the darkness to find our light.

Our light dims and love helps us find it.
Our light shines bright lightly and love shows us how to share it.
Our light glows and other people notice it.

We sometimes see the light in others before we see our own light.
We shine and celebrate the light in others.

Oh, and their light flickers too.

As our days grow shorter, may we find our inner sun that is always shining light.

May we remember that light emerges from the darkness.
And that the most holy darkness is the deepest darkness.

Let our flickering light and holy darkness be our teachers.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

And God Whispered…

November 14th, 2018

I’m right here.

As I headed into the woods to look for fall warblers and hawks, I found myself smiling at the abundance of yellow trees. I looked up to see the sunlight streaming down onto the tops of the trees. Then tears came streaming down my face. I was overcome with joy of being in nature, of being surrounded by light, of walking with my spouse. Of feeling the crunching of leaves and feeling peaceful. It had been a long time since peace filled me – as most of the year has been spent being with my ill father until his passing in September.

Nature is a great reminder that everything changes. Leaves fall and mulch. Seeds succumb to the darkness. And transformation comes in every season.

Many emotions filled me with every breath – sadness, gratitude, peace, and grief. I felt all of it. I looked up as the sunlight bounced off the yellow leaves and listened to the silence that filled the trail. Suddenly I heard squirrels hurrying through bushes, birds flying from tree to tree, and crisp air blowing the leaves. Smiling at the beauty all around me, I heard the words, “And God whispered, I’m right here.”

Through the mystery of grief and love, my heart felt peaceful. Lost in emotions of sadness, I knew joy. Grasping for connection, I knew groundedness. Longing for the return of hope, I found myself whispering, “I’m right here.”

 

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Sorry for Your Troubles

November 2nd, 2018

Streams of my father’s friends came into the funeral home to honor him and share their condolences. Many walked up to me and extended their hand and said, “Sorry for your troubles.” I couldn’t really understand at first what they were saying. As the line grew longer and longer, many folks told me how they met my father, shared a story, and ended with their condolences, “Sorry for your troubles.”

I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of people who came to my father’s wake and repeatedly hearing the words sorry for your troubles. I came to learn that the expression is used all over Ireland. As the poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama writes, “It comes directly from an Irish phrase, yet Irish has no word for ‘bereavement’ – the word used is ‘troiblóid’. So the phrase would be better translated ‘Sorry for your bereavements’.”

It was quite powerful seeing his wake filled with long-time friends and neighbors all sharing in our loss. Grief felt beyond expression – beyond words. Sorry for your troubles gave space to my inner experience of grief. The expression felt bigger than a condolence message. It felt like an acknowledgement of the enormity of losing a parent, especially someone like my father who was so loved and touched so many lives.

As the author, Liz Gilbert, says, “Grief is not an interruption of your life, but a braided-into-your soul aspect of it. We weep and we continue.” My experience of grief is that it brings me to my knees. It reminds me of how much I love and long for the connection that existed. And I am also reminded of how hard it can be for people to express their condolences or to know that grief lasts a lot longer than the days following a funeral. I know it can feel overwhelming to reach out to check in on grieving friends after time has passed after their loss. And it’s as overwhelming being the one experiencing grief.

Bearing the effects of losing a loved one takes more than weeks or months. It’s an everyday experience where sometimes grief feels heavy and other times grief inspires more love. The most important part is showing up, expressing your condolences (calls and cards are wonderful), sitting with those in grief; and if you don’t know what to say, you can always hold their hand, wipe their tears, and say, “Sorry for your troubles.”

This is dedicated to my beloved father, Ted Flanagan, who passed away on September 6, 2018.

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om