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Archive for the ‘Letting Go’ Category

The Stories We Tell

Thursday, January 11th, 2024

The mountains and the rivers carry the echoes of stories written in the earth, in their currents, and in the wind that carries them. We carry our stories in our hearts — the ones we feel and the ones we tell ourselves. May the narrative of the stories we tell ourselves be messages of inner resilience and endurance, of love and compassion, of peace and stillness.

What narrative are you telling yourself? What story of the heart are you sharing? 

We live between our stories. The one we have experienced and the one we are anticipating.

Our new story is right here, right now. 

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We Are the Sky—Everything Else Is Just the Weather.

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

―Pema Chödrön

I was reminded of this quote as I have listened to and experienced a variety of emotions the past few days and weeks. As emotions come and go, and we start to feel deeply our pain and our joy, it is important to remember that we are this great blue sky that the weather rolls through. At times, it may feel too cold or too hot. Sometimes we may feel like a flood, sometimes a drought, sometimes a quake, and sometimes a hurricane. And then it passes. The weather changes and we change.

And sometimes it’s just right. We feel the ideal temperature, notice the most perfect golden light or a glowing red sunset, or feel the lightest of breezes. Yet, we know that this too will change.

As we feel the fullness of ourselves as the sky, we know that our hearts are so immense that we have the space to hold ALL of it. There may be times we think we don’t have enough to carry it all, and then we realize it is moving through us. As we feel the tenderness and the tough times, the love and sadness, the strength and the vulnerability, the forgiveness and kindness – sometimes all at the same time, we come to realize we are just the sky—and everything else is just the weather.

Sometimes we just need to sit in the emotions or notice the sky and in our stillness, we may come to a place and realize we are all of this and more than this. It’s a daily practice of noticing, watching, and being – and then it all passes into something else.

Notice the weather of your heart. Notice the forecast and how quickly it changes into something else.


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Let It Be

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

What if you could be just this moment?

Rather than let it go, begin a new practice of letting it be.

Just let it be.

Let it be and notice.

Then what?

Be just this moment and notice what happens inside.

Be just this moment and this moment and this moment.

Let it be. In this moment, let it be.

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An Uncertain Heart

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Life is about living in uncertainty. 

Life happens in the in-between moments.

Life asks us to make a journey with ourself.

Life exists in the ordinary moments – washing the dishes, sitting with our loved ones, driving in traffic, taking a walk, watching the sunset.

When we live with uncertainty, there is room to explore everything.

Maybe the map we really need to follow is one that makes us lost. In that space we find our way.

By being uncertain, we can find our life moment by moment.

Perhaps that’s the real meaning of uncertainty – finding our unexplored wisdom of the heart.

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The Old Man and the Lake

Wednesday, 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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And God Whispered…

Wednesday, 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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Sorry for Your Troubles

Friday, 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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This Too Shall Quiet

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

As I began my meditation journey with my teacher last week, I heard very clearly, “This too shall quiet.” I wasn’t sure what was meant by “this.” I allowed my heart to slow down and my breath to soften, and the meaning of “this” became more clear. The noise I have become so attuned to. The worry and anxiety I have become so attached to. The anger and fears I have listened to. “This too shall quiet.” 

QuietMy whole body relaxed into the quiet that resides inside. I could hear the wisdom of my teacher deep within:
“You’ve let noise fill you.
Let quiet fill you.
Let love fill you. 
You are never alone.
The noise will quiet down.
And this too shall quiet.”

I am very grateful for my teacher, GH, for holding space and being present.
Her peaceful and compassionate presence gave me the space to be available for inner quiet.

Photo by Mary Anne Flanagan

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How Do You Respond to Uncertainty?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Sitting in uncertainty

No longer rushing to certainty

Allowing myself to be in the discomfort

Learning from the unknown

Awakening to the gifts of the new questions rising

Releasing old roles and responsibilities

What do you do when you experience uncertainty? 

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I Am Ready

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

I am ready to let go.

I am ready to let God.

I am ready to let in.
I am ready to let flow.

I am ready to ask.

I am ready to receive.
I am ready to surrender.

I am ready.

{Photo by Mary Anne Flanagan}

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