From the heart- a 15 day journal exercise Part 8- Noticing

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.

I vomited out shit yesterday and received an overwhelming positive response.  Thank you for that!  Glad you related!  Let’s see what is in store today.


Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

Part 2: Practice Dying

Part 3: Preparing to Die

Part 4: Dying from the Common Cold

Part 5: Renewing Evolution

Part 6: Famous Last Words

Part 7: Fear of Fear

Part 8- Noticing

1. Exercise- take note of small joys in your living space.  Care for your space gently.  

It is Sunday.  And an open day ahead to draw, to create, to be, to leave the to-do for tomorrow.  I began the day today by resting.  By staying in bed.  By slowing down and being in the moment.  Then I cleaned my apartment, changed the sheets, hung out with my parrot, did the laundry, organized art work, my books, dusted, watered plants, opened the windows wide, puttered around, tending my space.  No rush.  Staying in gratitude.

2. Capture chapter highlights:

What we describe as “our life” is not the sum total of what has passed through our hands but has passed through our minds.  Our life isn’t only a collection of people and places, it is a continuum of the ever-changing feelings they engender…

Our life only lasts a moment.  Note those moments.  Acknowledge to yourself, silently in the heart, the various states passing through.  Call them by name.  Note “fear,” note “doubt,” note “compassion” as these states pass through.  Let this naming of states be a gentle whisper in the heart, not a grasping at conceptual straws of the mind…

Because noting states of mind as they arise keeps us present, it allows us to meet difficulties at their inception– before they become more real than we are…

Noting is a remembering of the present.

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3. Explore another source regarding listening to the messages from the heart:

It is in the bored moments that the beauty of life right before us can actually open.  It is in the moments of stillness that a portal is open to our inner lives. – Michele Lilyanna

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Check out:

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4. Today’s angel card(s):

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From the heart- a 15-day journal exercise Part 4

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.



Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

Part 2: Practice Dying

Part 3: Preparing to Die

Part 4: Dying from the Common Cold

1. Draw the pain:

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.
– German Proverb

I recall an exercise I made up in August 2012 as I journaled:

“Waking up with the cannonball weight of anxiety and fear in your chest?  Racing thoughts about all the usual?  Worried that you won’t be able to deliver all you have promised?  That you don’t have enough resources?  Financially, physically, spiritually?  Forgetting to live in the moment and over-thinking the future?  Scattered and feeling disorganized?  You know…  All that typical familiar stuff that builds a wall of fear around you. Well, that’s me this AM.  So I tried this.  I drew an outline.”

Drew in where the fear sits the strongest.

Then gently erased.

Easy.  Breathed through.  Decreased the tension.  Softened.

2. Capture chapter highlights:

Watch the shadows gather in the aching body.  Hear them mutter in complaint and self-pity.

Pity arises from meeting pain with fear.  Compassion comes when you meet it with love…

When we begin to respond to discomfort instead of reacting to it, an enormous change occurs.  We begin to experience it not as just “our” pain but as “the” pain… When it’s “my” unworthiness I feel unworthy to explore it.  But when it’s “the” unworthiness– the pain so many struggle with– compassion flows naturally towards it…

When it’s “the” pain, it has the whole universe to float in, when it’s “my” pain, I’m standing alone in it.

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3. Explore another source regarding listening to the messages from the heart:


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By learning about anxiety, spending time with it and finally holding in your hand, you can enjoy the next step: You can relax your grip, and let it fall away. It will have served its purpose. You will have loved that part of yourself and it won’t need to get your attention with such a difficult message again.

You will be connected. That’s the first gift.

The second gift is that feeling connected and with realizing that you’re enough can lead you to a cycle of inner fullness. It can give you an easy-to-remember awareness that you’re up for this, whatever the next exciting challenge or painful event may be.

The third gift of anxiety is that it gets you to recognize your own power with, instead of power over, yourself and your life.

All you had to do was listen… – Ariella Baston

4. Today’s angel card:

Robin’s egg bowl by Alison Donnelly

From the heart- a 15-day journal exercise: Part 3

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.


Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

Part 2: Practice Dying

Part 3: Preparing to Die

1. Embroider your heart

Here is a PDF of one of my drawings for you to print out: Heart

Color it.  –> Cut it out.  –> Glue it on card stock.  –> Cut it out again.  –> Embroider!




Photo by Erin Banda




Check out:

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2. Capture chapter highlights:

If you had only one year to live, what would you do?

[I think about the beautiful, heartbreaking, incredible mother-daughter year my mother and I had from her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer November 2007 to her death November 2008.]

… To have a whole year to examine one’s life consciously in the context of approaching death is almost unique in the human experience…

As we begin to see where we have been absent from life, increasing possibilities audition for our approval.  The heart suggests that we become more present, that we sharpen our focus…

Those who insist they’ve got their “shit together” are usually standing in it at the time…

Sometime it takes a journey to come home.  We may even have to leave our comfortable (though always rented, never owned) domicile to do it.  Life is like that and so is death…

Thus, in the one year experiment… focus, instead, on the heart that loves as is.  This means completing one life before we start another, taking one evolutionary leap at a time.

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3. Explore another source regarding listening to the messages from the heart:

WE ALREADY HAVE everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.
― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

4. Today’s angel card:

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From the heart- a 15-day journal exercise: Part 2

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.

Recall: Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

Part 2: Practice Dying

1. Color an anatomical heart:

Here is a PDF of one of my drawings for you to print out: Heart


2. Capture chapter highlights:

And it’s never too late to complete our birth.  As Buddha said, “It doesn’t matter how long you have forgotten, only how soon you remember.”

To practice dying.  To be fully alive.  To investigate the dread of, and resistance to life and death.  To complete my birth before it’s over.  To investigate that part of myself that refuses to take birth fully, and hops about as though it still had one foot in the womb.


it was the fear of life that needed to be investigated first…

… But when the heart at last acknowledges how much pain there is in the mind, it turns like a mother toward a frightened child.

3. Explore another source regarding listening to the messages from the heart:

“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour). I know, however, of a young chronophobiac who experienced something like panic when looking for the first time at homemade movies that had been taken a few weeks before his birth. He saw a world that was practically unchanged-the same house, the same people- and then realized that he did not exist there at all and that nobody mourned his absence. He caught a glimpse of his mother waving from an upstairs window, and that unfamiliar gesture disturbed him, as if it were some mysterious farewell. But what particularly frightened him was the sight of a brand-new baby carriage standing there on the porch, with the smug, encroaching air of a coffin; even that was empty, as if, in the reverse course of events, his very bones had disintegrated.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory


4. Today’s angel card:

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From the Heart- a 15-day journal exercise: Part 1

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.

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I will share my exploration here and I encourage you to join me.  The book has 15 chapters, so I will explore in 15 parts in 15 days.  I will focus on the heart image in each part, share some highlights from the chapter, look at other resources that resonate and pull an angel card.

Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

  1. Draw an anatomical heart:

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Or here is a PDF of one of my drawings for you to print out: Heart

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2. Capture chapter highlights:

This book is a book of renewal.  It is not simply about dying but about the restoration of the heart.

Part of us seek relief from our fears, while another aspect causes our focus on life to intensify, to push us to look deeper into just who or what took birth and who, indeed, it is that will someday die.

Whatever our situation, the progression– sudden or gradual– if the same: to remember, to let go, and to trust the process. 


Today I took steps to self-advocate, explore new options, releasing attachment to the outcome- valuing myself without apology.  And though it was hard, I took the steps.

The trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. – Erica Jong

Let go.  Trust the process.

3. Explore another source regarding listening to the messages from the heart:

The Power Path May 2017 Forecast

The way we look at priorities is changing. We need to learn to prioritize from our hearts instead of from our minds. The way the mind prioritizes is by rationalizing why we should be doing something instead of simply intuiting that it should be done. The challenge during times of instability is that we have too many choices, too many options, too much on our plate, and too many considerations to sort through. We don’t know what to do first, what to end, what to start, what we can ignore, what is done, what is ours and what is not. So, we revert back to what is known and where we feel safe and confident. But this is never a good permanent solution.

The only way to bring focus and stability into our lives now is to learn to prioritize from the heart. This requires trust and intuition, listening to yourself instead of others and connecting in with your own desires. Making choices from the heart may disappoint others and even bring instability into someone else’s life, but that is the challenge this month and the price you pay for resetting your priorities and it will serve you in the long run. When there are too many options, choices and possibilities to process through the mind, the only way to gain clarity is to turn to the heart and allow it to lead.

4. Today’s angel card:

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A reminder that sometimes it is OK to do less.

I have been slow all day– I am trying to allow myself time to stop without guilt, to allow this feeling of weariness, this reminder that sometimes it is OK to do less.

What is this weariness?  Yes, I am recouping from a flu and yes, I have many multiple projects going at once, yes I have a long to-do and commitments, but is not physical, no, it is this familiar feeling of saudade.

Saudade is a unique Portuguese word that has no immediate translation in English.  Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.  It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return.  It’s related to the feelings of longing, yearning.  

Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again…  It can be described as an emptiness and the individual feels this absence…  In fact, one can have ‘saudades’ of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future.

I look at my to-do lists and I sigh.  I walk to the kitchen to make myself some coffee and it is an overwhelming feat today.

I have a precious day at home alone to catch up, but I really just want to sit.  To sit in this emotion, hang out with my parrot, and feel nostalgia.  To go inward, to regain some energy to move forward.  To embrace missing as a gift/reminder to rest.

I tried though- went back at my computer, preparing to write a letter, and as I was searching online for something specific, I came across an old blog post I wrote in 2013.  And I knew, this old post was a reminder again to stop today, to allow the feeling of saudade.  

Look who is saying hello in that old post!  How precious to see my dog Tobey (who passed away Dec 23, 2015), walking in the forest. 

A walk in the forest August 31, 2013.



A GIFT.  So I share this here, pack my bags for tomorrow and STOP for the day- for sometimes it is OK to do less.

“About five years ago I saw a mockingbird make a straight vertical descent from the roof gutter of a four-story building.  It was an act as careless and spontaneous as the curl of a stem or the kindling of a star.

The mockingbird took a single step into the air and dropped.  His wings were still folded against his sides as though he were singing from a limb and not falling, accelerating thirty-two feet per second per second, through empty air.  Just a breath before he would have been dashed to the ground, he unfurled his wings with exact, deliberate care, revealing the broad bars of white, spread his elegant, white-banded tail, and so floated onto the grass.  I just rounded a corner when his insouciant step caught my eye; there was no one else in sight.  The fact of his free fall was like the old philosophical conundrum about the tree that falls in the forest.  The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them.  The least we can do is try to be there.

– Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek



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Journal exercise: self-care and self-compassion

Journal exercise:

What does self-care and self-compassion mean to you?  How are they different?  How are they the same?


Inspired by conversations of late, I am intrigued by the differences between SELF-CARE and SELF-COMPASSION.


In health care, self care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated. [source]

Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.  Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. [source]

CARE implies an action, a verb: effort made to do something correctly, safely, or without causing damage, things that are done to keep someone healthy, safe, etc., things that are done to keep something in good condition…

Taking good care of yourself means the people in your life receive the best of you rather than what is left of you. ― Lucille Zimmerman

COMPASSION implies a noun: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, charity…

Don’t ever allow yourself to forget how incredibly special you are, even for a single second. Without you, the world would not be as magnificent. Let yourself remember to love again, starting with you loving you. ― Miya Yamanouchi

Self-care implies a to-do.  That can trigger.  Exhaust.

Check out:

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Self-compassion is immediate.

But hey, both important.


I am getting better at self-compassion.  Self-care will take some more work.  In my own time.  In that statement lies self-compassion- take your time.


So I will continue to practice self-compassion first (immediate), then self-care (commitment).

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This post is dedicated to my self-care/compassion soul-sisters:

Laura Mack, Patti Henderson, Beverley Pomeroy, Cher Thorsen, Maud Kerzendörfer, Cat Webb and Emma Varley…

and to Frida Kahlo.


Check out:

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We could also say that this month is all about love; transforming fear into power through love, transforming doubt into confidence through love, transforming old emotional wounds into great wisdom through love. It is an opportunity for us all to learn our lessons through the tough love of spirit and to finally begin to love and cherish ourselves deeply and unconditionally… Make sure this month to take time for yourself in the area of self-care.  How can you best support your own priorities?  How can you take better care of yourself as your own most valuable possession?  Remember to have compassion and forgiveness and to be in love with yourself. July 2016 Forecast, The Power Path