When You Lose Everything

The devastating fires in California that destroyed the entire town of Paradise, and destroyed thousands of homes, businesses and neighborhoods in multiple other locations throughout the state, brings up the question, what do you do when you lose everything–your home, your livelihood, your community, all of your possessions, everything you worked so hard over the years to create, your way of life, and, in some cases, even the lives of your loved ones?

Whether because of storms, natural disasters or war, illness, collapse of the economy or infrastructure, many throughout the world have faced this question. The shock and the grief can be so overwhelming that it can be immobilizing precisely when swift action is required. Such shock severely impedes the clarity of mind to know how to move forward now and the will to do so. And it can set up more problems including illness later on.

So what do you do?

The  immediate issues are clear:

  • find and remove yourself and loved ones from immediate danger
  • secure the basic necessities of food, water and shelter
  • gather your family, friends and neighbors around you to hold and support one another
  • find out about community resources
  • organize with others to deal with the immediate emergency
  • salvage what is left and assess what is gone
  • cleanup the debris

But then what?

An important component to moving beyond the devastation is your interpretation of the events. If you accept it as a force of nature that you could have done nothing to prevent, you will much more easily be able to move on from the loss. But if you blame yourself, that guilt or self-condemnation will drain your energy making responding effectively harder and calling for self-punishment. If you blame someone else, your resulting anger, rage and possible hatred, while mobilizing you to take action, will have a punishing effect upon your health and relationships. And if you wallow in grief, it also will consume you. And then, you may vacillate among all of the above in soup of emotions that is hard to process.

Accepting what cannot be changed helps

Acceptance does not mean that you like the situation. It does instead recognize that you cannot afford to squander your time, energy or momentum by hoping that it is all a bad dream and you will open your eyes and everything is back the way it was. All the tears and wishing it were not so will not change anything. You must conserve your energy and stay focused.

“Since this has happened, what do I want to do now?

What is my next step?”

You do not need to know the answer. You have only to hold the question in mind and then do something, anything. 

Something helpful is to affirm that you have inner resources and wisdom, creativity and problem solving ability beyond your conscious awareness. You have an internal guidance system, your personal GPS, that gives you hunches, and sets up synchronicities. I believe you have a spiritual guidance system as well. You can relieve stress by turning your predicament over to your internal and spiritual guidance with affirmative statements such as:

“There is a part of me that knows how to ____ and is doing so now.

There is a part of me that knows the next, right step to take and how to proceed. And that part is guiding me now with grace and ease.”

You can as did the character Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind shake your fist at heaven and make a vow that somehow you will never experience anything like this problem again. I prefer to yell at the beneficial heavenly forces:

“Turn this into a blessing!”

The glass may be half empty, but the glass is also half full!

You may think that you have lost everything. But if you are alive, that is not true. Assess what you have left – friends or family, your health or important parts of it, intelligence, skills, creativity, problem solving ability, network of who to call for help, and most important – your very life itself.

Maybe you can find a scrap of humor – what we call black or dark humor that which comes out of the depths of despair. For example, before this happened, did you want to de-clutter? Well, now you have done it! If you were thinking of moving, now you are going to! If you wanted to remodel, well now is the time!

Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, phonograph, and many other things lost over half of the buildings in his West Orange, New Jersey laboratory after an explosion and resultant fire. Damages in 1914 reached seven million dollars, with only two million covered by insurance.

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Edison vowed, “Although I am over 67 years old, I‘ll start all over again tomorrow.”   

When a reporter asked him how he felt, he responded that there was value in a fire in that it lets you start again. Not only that, but in watching the fire, Edison was inspired to create a new invention.

within two days, Edison had also finalized design of a portable searchlight whose three million candlepower beam would be visible for miles. In the midst of the catastrophe, Edison had noticed how the firefighters were hampered by the loss of power and light.  He puzzled over the problem and came up  with the battery driven light source idea and design. At age 67, Edison’s pace of work and inventions had slowed, but they could hardly be described as declining years. Within six months, Edison was demonstrating his latest invention in a nearby park,  attracting curious onlookers who wondered where the bright light was coming from!  The old adage that “every cloud has a silver lining” certainly applies here.”

Many times our lives, job or relationships run the full distance and we reach a place where no more growth can be made. It is time to change course, but we resist. Sometimes we are lazy, don’t want to do the work, or just stubbornly cling to what is safe known although even if we recognize that it is a rut. Then a cataclysmic event can come along to catapult us out of the rut and into unknown territory where we have no recourse but to reinvent ourselves and begin again. Hidden in the ruins is an opportunity to ask “where does my soul want to take me?”

In an earlier blog entitled “Blessings in Disguise”, I provided examples of how a major loss can turn out to be a blessing. They can set us on another path – one that is more fulfilling or allows or demands that we grow.

I am not making light of tragedy, or claiming that growth is the reason behind the loss or the justification for it. Nor am I advocating that you ‘buck up’, adopt a ‘stiff upper lip’ or deny your grief. What I am saying is that the only long-term constructive response to loss is to deliberately look for some good to come out of it, and to work to make it so both for yourself and others.

Focus on where you are going, on solution, to making your life or world better in some way. If you focus on what you had and lost, you will like Lot’s wife in the ancient Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, be consumed.

At every moment, you are creating your life story. What do you want your epitaph to read? 

“Here lies John Doe. He had everything and lost it all. Unable to move on, he became morose, angry and bitter, turning to drink for comfort. He died alone having alienated his remaining friends and family “.

Or ….

Every challenge calls us to rise up and dig down deep inside to find the strength and courage to take action having no guarantees of success, no assurance that the ground will rise up to greet us as we take those first steps.

Courage is facing the fear and doing what is needed anyway. It is being knocked down and standing up again. We are called to trust that small voice within, and follow its subtle lead. If others have suffered as well, we are also called to help them. Together we are stronger. As we work together, we are healed.

Find a reason

Heroes are born on the front lines where it is hard. Many never rise to the occasion, or they stumble and fall never to get back up. Overcoming devastating loss is a daily choice to action and attention to attitude. It is assisted by a faith that life can be better and that you can do something to make it so and that it is worth the effort.

It is the Mama Bear that finds her strength to rescue her cubs, or the fireman that rushes into danger to save others. Such actions are born from love, from a belief that life is worth saving, that life is worth living, and that despite the pain, cruelty and evil, that there is much good and beauty in the world. A vision of that better world or a big enough reason mobilizes the will to start again.

Find your reason to rise and then rise again, and gather others around you to support your resolve.

Copyright 11/2018 by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in other free online sources only if this copyright notice and links to http://www.roxannelouise.com and http://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com are included with the content.

 

 

 

 

 

“It’ll Only Take a Moment!”

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How many times have I thought those words to my regret!

It started for me many years ago. In the early days after buying this big house, I put water on the stove for tea while I went downstairs to fetch something. But somehow I got distracted with something there that needed doing. When I returned upstairs, the water had boiled away and the bottom of the metal pot had melted all over the stove. Still not learning the lesson to NEVER leave the room when something is on the stove, I have gone on to burn several meals since although I never again melted another pot. However, my son tells me my late mother melted one or two pots on the stove as well. 

Anyway, yesterday, it was my worker. He removed the chain around the boards on the front wooden gate. It was there to prevent my big Maremma sheep dogs from escaping should they open the latch — a new trick that their mother had just taught them a few days before. “I’ll only be a moment,” he thought as he walked across the driveway to get feed for the farm animals in the garage. So he did not take the mere second of extra time to replace the chain. Quickly, my two big Maremma pups unseen to him, unlatched the gate and took off, and were out of sight by the time he filled up the feed buckets and came back. As a result, I spent an hour and a quarter driving around a 3 mile radius calling for them before I finally found them and got them home. But the results could have been different as these dogs are unfamiliar with trains, traffic, or the acres of woods around. And people do steal valuable, pure breed animals.

How quickly taking a moment to do something or not do something by ignoring or discounting potential negative consequences can have unpleasant or painful results. Whether you get distracted and lose your focus, take your eyes off what you are doing, or turn your back on someone or something, it can bring enormous stress, aggravation, money, and time consuming extra work. It can mean the difference between getting on the plane or not, between owning something, or it being stolen or lost forever. But sometimes the results are even tragic – leaving a child or animal in the car on a hot summer day, for example. A moment can mean the difference between between health and injury, life and death. 

Many years ago, I combined walking my dog with going to the grocery store to buy just a few items. I tied him up outside and went in to do my shopping. When done, I found that someone had stolen my dog. Signs and calling throughout the Boston neighborhood brought no response. Only through great good fortune and timing a couple of weeks later did I happen to again be walking the same route and saw some young people sitting with my dog on the stoop of their apartment building across the wide boulevard. I was lucky to get him back.

Another time, I drove to the train station to pick up my husband. I left the windows open because my teenage son was in the back seat. As the train was late, I got out to wait for my husband on the track. It took just a moment of me being gone for a man to jump into the driver’s seat to try to steal the car. Only my son thinking to hold up his boy scout knife as he addressed the thief made the man flee, and kept my son safe. 

Every day we have to make countless quick decisions to do or not do this or that and how or what instead. Nonetheless, there also has to be awareness of potential negative consequences of those decisions and not discount the downside because “it’ll only take a moment!”

Copyright 9/2018 by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to http://www.roxannelouise.com and http://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com  are included with the content.

 

 

The Relationship Between Fear and Depression, Breath and Posture

How You Breathe Can Lessen Fear 

A recent study by Christina Zelano at Northwestern University indicates that breathing in through the nose as opposed to the mouth helps a person to respond more quickly to fear and knowing this can help you to deal with it. 

“We can potentially use this fact to our advantage. For example if you’re in a dangerous environment with fearful stimuli, our data indicates that you can respond more quickly if you are inhaling through your nose.” ~Christina Zelano

But, what I would add to this is that it is NOT ENOUGH to just breathe through the nose, but to BREATHE DEEPLY and FULLY. 

My understanding is that the first reaction of fear is to freeze the breathing mechanism – in other words, to hold the breath. This is the deer in the headlights syndrome while you are evaluating what to do (run/fight or stay in freeze). The fastest way I have found to discharge that fear is then to deliberately take a deep, big breath. Followed by other deep, regulated breaths, the mind quiets down.

Deep Breathing Lessens Depression & Fatigue Too!

As a former classical singer with NYC Opera and elsewhere, I noticed that deep breathing whether through the nose or mouth through the process of singing, dancing will process out the debilitating emotions of fear and depression as well as fatigue. While music also plays a significant part, I am sure this significant improvement has much to do with the increased oxygen reaching the brain. Classical singers while singing, for example, breathe four times as deeply as people at rest. Increased breathing and oxygen intake through any form of exercise will put you in a better frame of mind and in a more emotionally balanced state where you are able to think more clearly and make more rational decisions. 

Posture is Important 

Deep breathing is aided by an erect posture that allows the rib cage to expand. Then a person must train themselves to keep the chest still while breathing  deeper down that fully engages the diaphragm. This means that the belly moves in and out with each breath.

Good posture makes better breathing possible, and greater oxygenation of the brain allows a better processing of emotions. But posture is by itself relevant to mood and energy levels. Multiple studies indicate that good posture, holding the head erect and eyes looking forward rather than down [downward facing eyes puts a person into their emotions] lessens depression and fatigue! There are multiple such articles cited on the internet indicating that simply choosing to alter body posture to a more upright position is a quick shortcut to improve mood and energy levels. 

Copyright by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to http://www.roxannelouise.com and http://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com  are included with the content.  

Staying Balanced in Midst of Chaos & Conflict

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Getting Sucked Down the Rabbit Hole

Realizing that I was definitely off center with the intense emotions before and after the 2016 US Presidential Election, I had to regain my equilibrium. I had gotten lost in a litany of distressing events and obsessed with surfing the internet for news to try to understand what was happening and why. As a result, I was vacillating in the emotional sea of worry, upset, depression and gloom.

Reconnecting with My Core

I needed to practice what I preach as a stress management expert. While I think it is imperative to be informed about current events, the forces that are guiding those events, and the big picture of overall trends, there has to be a balance between awareness with detachment and then action if appropriate. A long view of history shows continuous conflicts. Yet mankind has continued and some progress has been made. While there are global and national issues to be addressed, there are also local and personal issues as well. One still has to carry water and chop wood, but being aware of myself as a soul, as a spiritual being and consciousness beyond time and space, helps me immensely. 

Basic Self Care

Balancing the mind and emotions has to start with adequate sleep as the foundation along with wholesome food and exercise. I practice Donna Eden’s 5 minute exercise routine, which helps balance the brain and body so I can think better, raises vitality and gets the body’s energy to flow properly. I also drink Source Energy Medicine (energized water). Besides hydrating the system, it is intended to raise your vibration while it deals with health issues. 

Stress Management

40580f831cc2f1219357730c661ae625 I have many tools for this , but the first thing I do to dump stress and clear my mind so that I can see things more clearly is to use the Infinite Intelligence Process that I have written about in Accessing More — Tapping Into the Eternal, Unlimited Self with the Infinite Intelligence Process. One part of this three-pronged modality is to set up a hypnotic or dowsing program (several paragraphs long) that is run by a shortcut command consisting of 2 trigger words. I use the words “process” and “go” to run the program. For example,

“From the perspective of my High Self, process and resolve everything I have read and heard on the news and internet today. Keep only what is true, relevant and important, and discard the rest. Release any unnecessary fear or worry so that I can sleep peacefully through the night. Go.”

What is mine to do?

If I am going to pick a battle to fight, an issue to address, and a way of making a difference, I need to prioritize. What is my job to do? Where can I make a difference? Perhaps all that I can do quickly is to make others aware of what is going on. Perhaps I can sign a petition, send an email to appropriate parties. A colleague advocates getting involved in town meetings. And I agree that locally is where most of our power lies. But it comes back to asking where I want to focus my energy.

To help me make better choices, I use another part of the Infinite Intelligence Process, which is to affirm that I already have an inner wisdom that is resourceful and capable of meeting any challenge and making decisions. I start out with “there is a part of me that knows____ and that part is ___.” I let the words sink in without having to consciously know the answers. Rather, I trust that by just saying/thinking it with assurance that some divine wisdom is accessible to me, something is initiated to make it true. In the best sense of the word, it is a statement of faith that activates change on an unconscious level. For example,

“There is a part of my being that knows the best use of my time, energy and resources today. And that part is making that information conscious now in a way that ever more efficiently guides my actions. I am surrounded with whatever I need to use those resources wisely and effectively. I know what to do and how to proceed.”

The Importance of Setting Meaningful Goals

Goal setting is not about having a ‘to do’ list, although specific action designed to move you closer to achieving major goals will be on that list. I am talking about setting goals as objectives that inspire you to achieve things truly meaningful to you. Having meaningful goals helps me to focus my energies in a positive direction and to use my time and energy wisely. However, in between projects, I can get sidetracked just as I was recently. So I need to set new goals as I just finished with my classes and conferences for the year. Without clear objectives and meaningful goals, I can wallow in non-productive rumination and activities. I am reminded of the folk saying

“Idleness is the devil’s playground.”

Looking for the Good

Keeping a keen awareness of all the good, the beautiful and the love that is the world creates balance. I need to hear some good news, and physically connect with people and hug them. This helps me to maintain hope and keep my concern about the bad things happening and worry about the future in check.

Years ago when I was going through separation and a divorce, I would ask people to tell me a joke. I really needed to laugh. And as they rattled through a joke or two, I did laugh. Then as I retold that joke to the next person, I laughed again. They laughed, and we all built up a repertoire that kept our spirits bouncing despite whatever challenges any of us were facing.

Random Acts of Kindness

Probably the fastest way to feel better and get out of your own head and put your problems aside for a while is to do something for someone else. It always helps me and just feels good to help others. I think I am sometimes the guardian angel for all those turtles trying to cross the road. So on my list of things to regularly do to keep myself grounded and centered, I am going to deliberately look for more ways to help somebody else.

Count Your Blessings

While I periodically count my blessings, I now commit to make it an essential part of my daily routine. Some people already do this as part of their evening prayers, or when offering a prayer before a meal. When stressed, it helps to remember that regardless of what is upsetting me or might happen in the future, for today I have a roof over my head, food to eat, running water and electricity. For today, I have many blessings. Then I just do what I can for that day. Planning helps. Action helps. Worry doesn’t.

Write a Letter of Appreciation

Recently, I came across the name of Martin Seligman, psychologist, former president of the American Psychological Association, author of the classic books Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness, and founder of the Positive Psychology movement. He advocates writing a letter of appreciation to someone who has touched your life. This is not a new idea, but a very powerful one. I can tell you for myself, that receiving a sincere compliment or heartfelt thank you totally makes your day. And especially if it is written down where you can reread it, the message touches your heart again and again. Such a letter blesses the author as well as the receiver.

Gratitude

Seligman also recommends that you practice daily remembering  Three Good Things, also called the Three Blessings. Basically, in the evening, you write down three good things that happened that day. But this is more than a simple inventory of things for which you are grateful. He asks you to think of why that happened, or what traits about yourself allowed you to appreciate or enjoy those things. Thinking of good things increases your well-being and lifts depression. But thinking of what you did, or what it was that allowed you to notice or appreciate those things, makes you will recognize that you have the ability to bring happiness to yourself and others.  

“Go to where the problem isn’t.” 

I remember the quote above by Deepak Chopra. Deliberately move yourself physically or at least mentally to a place devoid of the problem. This is the point of a vacation. But at home, you might take yourself for a walk. Or just look around and focus on any good thing you see. It might a squirrel going after nuts, or a pair of them chasing one another up a tree. It could be the mist coming up off the low ground, or a brilliance of the fall leaves, or playing with your pets or children. I know someone who regularly buys flowers. Staring at a bouquet can be a meditation in itself. For me, I might just hang out with the piggies or the new born bunnies.

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Spend a moment of ABSOLUTE ATTENTION on something/anything else.

Break the pattern. Distract the mind. Do something fun or interesting.

Maybe you visit a friend or loved one or do something fun. Comedies help as does reading an interesting book, doing meditation, having a hot bath, or getting bodywork. I know someone who bounces on a trampoline. My son surfs. Skiing, mountain climbing, tennis and other sports force you to be totally focused in the moment. 

But wherever you are, day or night, there is some place you can go to at least in your mind. Think of any place or anyone that makes you feel good. Do you have photos handy? Are they hung up where you see them regularly? Take a moment to stare at the photo, and get in touch with the love that is there, the happy memory as if it is happening all over again.

 Use Music

Music is an instant state changer so keep handy both calming music and happy, upbeat ones to help you. The power of this is that when you go back to addressing issues, you are re-energized, able to make better decisions, and more effective action.

Celebrate

Lastly, life is about celebration and sharing of life with one another. Sing, dance, have a party. Or as a Yiddish toast goes, L’Chaim, which means:

TO LIFE! 

If you think I can help you, here is my offer of  a free 30 minute phone session during the Months of December and January on any question relevant to hypnosis, stress management, mind-body healing, Reiki or dowsing. Call 434-263-4337.

Copyright by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to http://www.roxannelouise.com and http://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com  are included with the content.  

 

 

Farming and Being Present

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As many of you know, in addition to my professional life, I have a small farm (68 acres) in central Virginia. With upwards of 120 chickens and ducks, then another 17 chicks and 10 ducklings, 21 rabbits, 5 pigs, 3 piglets, dozen guinea hens, 7 cats and 3 dogs, a greenhouse, orchard, berry bushes, pastures, woods, gardens filled with weeds now 2 1/2 feet tall, I can easily get overwhelmed and discouraged. I can wallow in despair of ever getting everything done. I see projects everywhere. More likely I will see the glass as half empty rather than as half full. I see what has yet to be done versus what amazing things that I have already accomplished.

I can berate myself for taking on this huge task as my son will remind me “at my age.” While many people ‘my age’ have downsized, have made ‘sensible decisions’ to move into senior living communities (horrible thought) or an apartment in town (also horrible), I have this much larger house, huge property, out of town in the country, rental properties, and stuff up the ying yang. Some days I can feel really stuck and not know how to get out of the monster project I have created for myself.

The end result is that my energy is frequently drained just to the breaking point to manage every aspect of the farm in addition to everything else, including overseeing any workers that I may engage. This has caused me to sometimes get sick especially in the despair of death. The cost of running the operation far exceeds the proceeds from egg or animal sales. Yet, I still want to do it. But what is it really that I am trying to achieve? Why am I doing this?

When my son came to visit recently, he commented that I have so many animals that I don’t really get to enjoy them. And I realized that I was sorting for and noticing what needed attention, what work needed to be done by whom and in what order, and what was not getting done and what would most likely not be done if ever.

My son’s comment struck a cord in me and I made a decision to shift. Even though I have long standing ads to sell some of my animals, the sales have been all too infrequent, and I have not gotten rid of as many as I would like. I did, however, make a deliberate shift in my attention. Instead of sorting for problems, for tasks yet to be done, I have started to deliberately sort for beauty, for pleasure, for noticing the uniqueness of the critters that I have.

If, for example, a cat or dog comes up to me for attention, I am making it a point to  take time to bend down and pet it, not absentmindedly, not out of obligation, but to really notice it instead of walking on by to get the next task done.

I have always been able to unwind with bottle feeding my piggies (or lamb). I caress them as they drink and pay full attention to their cuteness, the big eyelashes, the curl in the tail, the solid, muscular body of each one. Oh, how I love my piggies! Pippies5onMommy1

I picked some flowers, something that I haven’t done for a long time, and put them where I see them on my work table. As I spend a few seconds to admire them, I breathe. I pay attention. I am slowing down to more fully notice my birds, to listen to the ducks laughing raucously, just to watch them.

J2064x1161-03310 Bunnies in Basket J2064x1161-03313

All the time my animals and land were capable of giving me energy, but I had been so focused on doing the work, that I had not been open to receive from them because I was not paying attention. And in not doing so, I was not appreciating their presence. I used to do this, but stopped in all my busyness.

For example, years ago as a college student I read Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, and afterwards started really looking at and feeling and enjoying the living presence of the tall trees on my walks to and from school. I could do that again. Yet, as I have been looking at the trees, I have just been thinking of which ones to cut some down to better see the mountains, and how many I needed of what kind of wood for heating in winter. In other words, I was thinking of how they were in the way, or of their utility, instead of appreciating them as a living consciousness, as a community. So instead of a source of pleasure, many of my trees have been a source of something I have wanted to get rid of or use.

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One of the things that drove me to start a farm was that I have always taken such delight in living things–plants, trees, animals of all kinds. I have always found the sound of a rooster thrilling. I was so amused to watch my goats dance on the roofs of the chicken house. I enjoy picking up the fat, soft toads on the walkway at night. The taste of fresh tomatoes or greens from my greenhouse, or freshly picked eggs from my free range, GMO free fed hens is delicious. The aroma of fresh mint or rosemary is incredible. The joy of picking fresh blackberries or blueberries not devoured by the deer is also wonderful.

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Joey as baby with me Joey, 1 year

 

 

 

Then my joy of bottle feeding a baby lamb (until it grew up and knocked me down on my face), or watching birth whether of piglets, chicks, ducklings, keets, or bunnies is precious. Oh, the supreme joy of newborns! Each new baby is thrilling. But each death (and farmers see a lot of death) is also heart breaking.

Going through farmland or even to a farmer’s market or fair holds more pleasure for me than any amusement park, restaurant, or most entertainment avenues. Yet, here I was with my own farm, selling at farmer’s markets, and all I thought about was how hard the work was, how much work needed yet to be done, wasn’t getting done, and how much my body ached. Why couldn’t it be easy, or, at least, easier? Why couldn’t I break even financially? The reality was very different than the vision.

Yet, in my heart, I know there can be an energy exchange, a partnership between me and the land, of me and the animals that can give more than it takes. And I know that at least part of that answer lies in me paying attention, sorting for joy, sorting for beauty, sorting for noticing the living presence of these creatures, and being in communion with nature. All this can bring incredible satisfaction and richness in life if only I am mindful.

I look forward to your comments.

Copyright by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to http://www.roxannelouise.com and http://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com  are included with the content.