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Loving Yourself Through Transitions

The Presence of God, Life Itself, lives in the new.  Rev. Dr. Bonnie Barnard I am currently in the middle of another life transition. Some of my transitions I haven’t chosen, but have happened; like the death of my beloved father or the ending of a relationship I didn’t want to end. Other transitions I have sought out, hunted down, and squeezed out of them juicy joy. Others, although wanted, I have tip-toed and waded in as a swimmer adjusting my body to a surprisingly cold and refreshing ocean on a hot day. Each transition I’ve walked through has been poetically different than the other. Romantic, gritty, welcomed, unwelcomed, bigger than me, exciting, grief-filled; each one has had its own tune and tone. And yet with each one, I learn something more about my self, my Soul, and this thing called life. The transition I am currently in is a dream realized. I have yearned for and nurtured this transition for twenty years. Although deeply desired, the signs of a transition and the way I nurture myself remain consistent. Transitions are Uncomfortable First of all, I remind myself that transitions can be uncomfortable. In fact, transitions that promote growth and Soul discovery ought to be uncomfortable. Think about this for a moment. I am leaving one state of being to move toward another that is unknown to me, which I haven’t yet occupied. This state of becoming has within it growing stretches and discomfort. Once I acknowledge this to myself, I experience relief. Endings Proceed Beginnings As a snake sheds its skin for a new one, or a lobster molts its shell for its bigger self, or a caterpillar surrenders his entire known existence, the old must end. The Bible says new wine doesn’t fit in an old wine skin. The Spirit that is evolving my Soul cannot prosper within me should I hold onto old ideas of myself or of life. I let go of the old, to accept the new. This is energetic, and also active within form. As I have moved from Phoenix to Los Angeles to give myself opportunity to fulfill a deep desired dream of mine, I left behind my home, belongings, spiritual community and friends in Phoenix to  start new in Los Angeles. And, the two cities are different. There is a physical change in weather, traffic, population/congestion, parking, food, area codes, the whole bit. With this new change comes the opportunity of saying “no” to the old people, places, and things I don’t want to bring into my new iteration of self. I cleaned out things when I packed up my Phoenix home. Today I cleaned out my address book. My Call is To Treat Myself Gently and Love What Comes Up Transitions by definition are in-between states; bridges from one state of being to another. The wobbliness in the midst of change is a given as the new structures  are not yet solid. They are the invisible and visible gateway of going between one reality and another. Every chance I get I am nice to myself. I hold myself in Grace.  ...

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Moving to a New Place

I am right now in the middle of a transition of moving from Phoenix, Arizona to Los Angeles, California. The move was my own choice, of my own doing. This is helpful as I am not working against myself, with the energy of resistance. I want to be here. So I was surprised when the impact of the transition was so powerful and I found myself experiencing grief, loss, and confusion. I am currently applying everything I know about making a successful transition as I write this. The content is fresh. Acknowledge the Transition. I found myself six weeks into the transition at the doctor’s office from stress-related breathing issues. I had packed up my home, put everything I owned into storage, left my community and subleased an apartment in a city I’m don’t yet know. I found myself surprised when my body started yelling at me. I thought my spiritual practice would be enough to inoculate me from a body response. I was incorrect. I have no doubt that my regular practice softened the impact, yet I still found myself floundering a bit. I awoke quickly to honoring the transition the whole me is making. This meant talking to my body, letting it know I’m listening, and reminding if of the Strength of God that it was born out of. I sit down with myself and through writing in my journal and conversation with my friends, I close my old life as I knew it and acknowledge my new life is different. I formally end the old and open to the new. Practice Grounding. I love the earth. In Phoenix I started my day with my feet on stone tile, grounding into the earth and making sound as part of my daily meditation process. Then I’d walk four miles on quiet streets. Now I put my feet softly on an old worn out rug, tip toeing as to not disturb the tenant below me. I meditate in silence then walk four to five blocks in an air polluted environment with lots of noise. I realized quickly after my doctor’s visit that I wasn’t grounding myself and I was judging my new environment instead of loving it. I have explored new ways to ground that honor both the tenant below me and myself. I commit to walking the beach once a week and the mountain canyon once a week. I receive bodywork and touch. Whether it is a massage, Reiki, holding hands at church, hugging a new friend, I allow myself to receive touch. This is part of grounding. I’m not talking about the I-am-desperate-hug-me-and-let-me-take-your energy-from-you-creepy-hug. I am talking about the exchange of appreciation between human beings. If I feel as though I could use touch, I give it to myself through massage or body work. Place my Attention Upon What I Love. With anything new, there is a tendency for me to want to criticize it because I’m uncomfortable. Uncomfortable does not equal critical. The practice for me, then, is to start identifying what it is I love about my new environment. I love the Starbucks by me as it has one of the few Clover machines in the country. I can enjoy a very delicious cup of decaf occasionally. I also like the vegan restaurant down the...

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Death of a Loved One

I sang the song Asi’ Sera tonight in church and was keenly aware of the appropriate message of this song for talking about death in a Soulful context. The words translate: We come to live We come to love We come to pass away And to continue on the journey. The greatest gift a life of Faith has given me, has been the knowing that life continues on after death. This knowing allows me to honor another’s journey as being perfect for them. I can rest in their birth, their death, and their continued form of Soul unfolding. It also gets me off the hook from any form of judging how one dies. There are many ways to leave this world, some more creative and vivid than others and yet the result is the same. Whether for a few minutes, months, years, decades or into old age, our beloved lived, loved, and passed away to continue on their journey. This too is true whether the death is perceived as tragic, self-inflicted, at the hands of another, or through an illness. Life is, death is, and the continuation of life after death is. I have said good-bye to animals, friends, colleagues, teachers, mentors, and family members. What I have learned about death is the impact of each is different upon me and how I respond is different. I do, however, make a point of honoring the life of someone I have loved; I don’t keep it to myself. Recognizing the life and gifts of another feeds my Soul and is often balm for another’s.  It says in some way “the human journey matters and this one in particular demonstrated love and impact for me.” And I remain open. I have received visits in my dreams from loved ones on the other side. My beloved grandmother who I deeply loved visited me for decades in dream conversations. Each conversation was a reminder of the love she held for me. My dad has visited me in dreams, messing with my telephone system, having my attention look at the clock at 10:14 (his birthday), and visited me as an apparition once when walking my dog he had a close relationship with. In multiple-dimensional Life, there is much activity in the realms of the seen and the unseen and what I practice with my daily spiritual practice is seeing the Good of God in all of it. The Universe if friendly and wants to remind me of how deeply I am loved, and so I let it, recognize it, receive it, and share it. Self care is essential with the death of a loved one. I have found it essential to reach out my unique community for support. I must ASK for it. I know it can be hard in the midst of grief to ask for what I want, but this is part of the self-care process. I have learned that people who love me want to support me, they often don’t know how.  I have made a list of ways I can be supported through the grieving process: Prayer. I can ask my friends, church community, anonymous prayer lines, to pray for my strength when I feel like I don’t have it. Food. I can ask a dear friend to coordinate food delivery...

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Preparing for My Own Death

Who wants to think about their own mortality, yet preparing for our death? I didn’t think I’d want to, yet it has become a part of my annual new year process; that is quite rich. I began preparing for my own death in a Death and Dying class in college when I was twenty years old. In one our classes I was given the assignment to prepare my funeral/memorial service. This woke me up to the many details that exist in death. It also woke me up to the amount of work another would have to do in my absence while grieving, which didn’t feel right to me. At twenty-three I gave birth to my daughter. Remembering what I learned in my college class I would update my “Death” folder in my office between Christmas and the New Year with details of what my daughter would need to know when I die. This folder has now become electronic and although I haven’t done it yet, I can include videos and other media, should I choose. What I keep in my Open When I Die folder: Service details. This is left over from my college planning days. I let my daughter know whom to invite to my memorial service. I let her know the where of my service and who I want to officiate it. I indicate where I want gifts to be given, if any. Knowing that the service is for those left behind, not me, I am less detailed about it now that she is an adult. I do, though, make it easy for her to access my contact list for notification. Important documents. Contact information to my financial advisor. Power of attorney. Health directive. Medical team information. Living will. Durable power of attorney. Deeds to my house, car, etc. Insurance and financial documents. This includes passwords to access accounts. Passwords to social media accounts so they can be shut down. Historical information on household items. I was washing dishes one day looking at a beautiful plate with two ears of corn hanging above my sink. It was my beloved grandmother’s plate. As I leaned into the love this plate symbolized I realized that to my daughter this is just a plate with corn on it. I want her to know the items I have that came through the family to her. I am not attached to her keeping them, however, I want the choice to be a conscious one. Plus, history is fun. A friend of mine has a bit art collection. She bought her pieces from her various travels. She has decided upon her death that each friend is going to receive one of her pieces. She created a video and written piece for each with its history, the artist, and its current market value. Letters. This is my favorite part and the one I enjoy doing the best. I have always liked writing personal notes and sending greeting cards. I write each year letters to the people in my inner circle I deeply love. Then, my daughter can mail them or gift them after my passing. It is my final thank you note. I have taken to writing my young grand daughter regular notes of family history that my daughter will give to her when...

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