I named it El Corazon.
For my birthday last month, my 21 year-old son Maxwell gave me this glorious surprise ball. He went to a beautiful shop in Berkeley called The Tail of the Yak. The shop is a favorite of my sister Lisa and when Max started at UC Berkeley this fall as a junior studying English, we all visited the shop together.
Upon opening the gift, my sister commented that it was a surprise ball and they are typically filled with little trinkets rather like a pinata. She knows the artist, Anandamayi who creates them and suggested that I may not want to open it at all. I agreed. It was so beautiful, so I put it on display in a prominent place in my home office. And though it was clearly designed as a mango complete with a leaf on top, it looked to me like a heart, hence El Corazon. And there I thought it would stay.
A few weeks passed and I was preparing to facilitate a meeting on the topic of the power of receiving. The brilliant Amanda Owen had been the guest author at a women’s luncheon I sponsored last September and I was invited to present some thoughts on receiving at our December meeting for the Natural Healers, a networking group where I have been a member for the past four years.
As I was in the bathroom getting ready that morning, I had a flash of insight. As an intuitive coach and consultant, I have often shared that some of my clearest insights and profound images happen while I am brushing my teeth, or washing my face or putting on make-up. While the cognitive mind is pre-occupied, the intuitive mind is free to play.
Zing. Ping. Flash.
The image of El Corazon, the mango surprise ball, flashed in my mind with the phrase “we are made to be opened.”
I was moved. I was clear. We are the surprise balls and we are designed to be opened and share our humble trinkets with the world. I knew then that I would open El Corazon on new year’s eve as my year-end/year-beginning ritual.
And that’s what I did.
I am a master at seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary, an alchemist who can turn base metals into gold. In my work as a facilitator and teacher, I often say “I am the Rumpelstiltskin of Life Coaching – I can spin shit into gold.” And the truth is, I can. I use “shit” here, (my favorite swear word) instead of straw as the fairy tale goes, because often, shit is what we feel and see when the road gets rough and tumble. The truth is though, we get tunnel vision when things get tough and our peripheral vision narrows, almost to the point of blindness.
Through the symbolic, the ordinary day to day images, words, ideas and synchronicity, there is gold, upon gold, upon gold along that rough road. If we can see it. If we can see past our ideas of perfection and order and the outside looking complete…just like the surprise ball.
So, I knew that when I opened up my heart last night, when I opened up El Corazon, it would speak to me in my native tongue – intuition – fresh and new intuition. And I pleased to tell you, there was a magical message in there.
Setting the Stage
Important background information before we open up El Corazon.
My husband Drew and I have been through the financial wringer the past six years. I won’t tell that story today. I will leave that to another day. Another post. Suffice it to say that the collapse of our financial house became the very foundation for the birth of my business. Life literally took all my money away to shake me awake.
It did. And I am.
We are coming into what feels like the auspicious YEAR SEVEN of financial austerity. And I am done with it. My husband is done with it. We are ready to thrive. Note to self: we are thriving.
Boom. (I am feeling feisty and it feels good.)
Ok. To the background information. This past year ELEPHANTS have continued to be a symbol that has shown up again and again for both Drew and I. Just in this past month alone, I received fabulous elephant pj’s from my friend and coaching partner Keisha, Drew wanted and won the very clever “white elephant” nightlight in our family Christmas exchange last week and my sister Martha gave me a blue elephant-angel Christmas ornament. It was truly beginning to be uncanny. Really, I didn’t even tell you the half of it. So many elephants trumpeted into our lives this past year.
So, I said to Drew on Monday night this week, “I think the Elephant is to be our prosperity and abundance totem for 2015.” Remember, I have shared with you that I am the Queen of the Symbols and they often inspire me to action where other efforts fail. He agreed and I read out a few of the qualities and attributes of the elephant, i.e.commitment, strength and wisdom, ability to remove obstacles and barriers and in the Hindu culture, in the form of Ganesh, the god of luck, fortune and blessing on all new projects.
Brilliant. Inspiring. Motivating.
So, I take you now to last night at 11:11. Yes, that turns out to be the exact time on the clock when I happen to sit down with Drew to open up “my heart” to this new year.
As I pulled that first piece of colored crepe paper, Drew said to me, confident and clear, “there’s an elephant in there.” Note to self: Intuition runs in the family.
Opening – New Beginnings
I will not keep you in suspense because no sooner did he say that then I came upon the first object in the surprise ball, a pack of Smarties. Ok, I will keep you in a wee bit of suspense. I will admit, I was feeling a little uncertain of my decision to break-open this beautiful piece of artwork when the first gift was a cheap penny candy prize. Or it was life’s humorous little joke on me.
The elephant revealed itself in the very next layer, sitting aloft a field of green.
I liked the symbolism. I liked it a lot.
Turns out he was an “Ikea model.” It feels like Humpty-Dumpty in reverse as we took all the little pieces and put him together.
I liked it. I liked it a lot.
Ready to Go 2015
Each layer revealed a new item, the hummingbird sticker, the single-wrapped Swedish fish, the plastic white hen and star-stamped top. The final gift at the center of the mango was a tin of Fairy Rose mints.
And one final shot of all the treasures inside:
I will leave you with two additional pieces of the story that feel equal parts magical and poignant.
Max arrived home this morning and I shared with him my decision to open his gift along with the insight that we humans were designed to be opened. I then told him about his dad’s prediction that there was an elephant in there. He was genuinely giddy with excitement and so pleased to have been the one to have bestowed this gift upon me, indeed upon our whole family.
He shared that when he was in the shop on the day of my birthday, he was drawn to the mango. The saleswoman explained what they were and he was enchanted. It however was an investment for something so simple. I asked how much he had paid and he said $40. I felt my eyes well with tears that this young man, on a budget, would buy me something so frivolous and fun and play-full for my birthday. My very practical self was glad I didn’t know what he paid for it BEFORE I broke it open or I may have been tempted to leave it intact.
And I would have missed the call to open. I would have missed the message. I would have missed the gift.
And I wouldn’t have liked that. I wouldn’t have liked that one bit.
Final piece of the story. As I finished writing about the elephant symbolism and Lord Ganesh, I wrote “as I opened up my heart to this new year.” I realized that even though I have referred to the surprise ball as El Corazon – My Heart, it is actually a mango. So, I was curious to know the symbolic meaning of the mango. So I googled. And here is what I found.
“Mango: Food of the Gods! It is symbolic of love and fertility for Hindus, and is seen as a symbol of attainment when being held by Lord Ganesh.”
And I liked it. I liked it a lot.
All the brilliant layers – One surprise at a time
So, I invite you on this first day, of this new year, to recognize that you too are “made to be opened” – all of you. And those glorious colored layers inside you, each vulnerable and precious prize, is there when you are ready to open your heart.
Your El Corazon.
I like that. I like that a lot.
AnXiety Marks The Spot
Over the years, my mother would tell me this story about when Mary Lost Her Merry. Forget the lamb, losing Merry was far more significant. The story goes that my mother observed that my birth to three year old self (it was somewhere between two and three – I just like imagining that I was “Mary” a bit longer) what my mother describes as a whimsical, carefree, merry little child with a bubbly laugh disappeared and was replace by this quiet, nervous, dare I say it, anxious child. Susan Cain’s book Quiet has some powerful insights on this phenomenon.
As I grew-up, I would say that it wasn’t until the 7th or 8th grade before I seemingly “found my Mary.” The truth was, I found an acceptable adaptation of her, a person that appeared calm, cool and collected aka (medium and in-charge) on the outside while subsequently living with incredible anxiety and fear on the inside. I wore it well until the age of 39 when LIFE as I had come to know it fell apart from the inside out and for five years I was sick and tired – literally. It all started with some numbness in my right leg which in looking back became the catalyst for looking at the numbness in so many other parts of my life.
This marked five long years of being stuck in the belief that there was SOMETHING wrong with my physical body. The evidence was so clear that my body was falling apart and I had enough symptoms to float a boat – and no diagnosis. Fast-forward to 2005 and the last trip to the hospital, the final neurologist of the FIVE I had consulted over as many years. This kind, compassionate and wise doctor-man said this of my own personal ODD-YSSEY (emphasis on the ODD), “you are such a rare case, Mary. Many others that I have seen with your story either oftentimes end up with un-necessary surgeries on the back, lumbar and neck in an futile attempt to “fix” something or on numerous medications for anxiety, depression, pain, and a host of other reasons. You are unusual in that over these five years, you have managed to navigate this illness and stay centered.”
Indeed, that had been the case. I still to this day can’t tell you why I hadn’t gone down the surgery or medication route, I just feel grateful and blessed that I didn’t. That kind neurologist also said, “there is a name for this, for what is happening to your body, that Western medicine can’t identify – yet. I recommend you seek out the support of a compassionate therapist to help you navigate and make sense of the symptoms and give you some additional tools to handle this.” Indeed, it was time to dig. Because, you see, X had been marking the spot for years and I just hadn’t seen it that way. As many of you know, I did go on to see that compassionate therapist, in the person of Catherine Crawford, who is an intuitive, wise counselor who uses equal measures of art, creativity, intuition and kindness to gently unearth the treasure that is buried deep inside us. I started seeing Catherine in the fall of 2005. Ah, the fall. And it was six months, almost to the day, that I experienced my spring awakening. Yes, March of 2006, after a myriad of deep digging exercises, exploration and navigating my inner landscapes, the sleeping giant – the indomitable spirit awoke…and with it – ME. Someday I will share with you, on one of the new Fresh Intuition Fridays, what I call The Anatomy of a Spiritual Awakening. Because, let’s not kid ourselves, there is a whole lotta physical mixed in with the spiritual and there are many people in the world going through this same re-connection. I meet them everyday in my work.
My work. Yes. The gift of awakening. The X marks the spot has now become my work. Literally, my LIFE IS MY BUSINESS and I am profoundly aware now of the treasure that awaits exactly where we stumble. And I want you to know it too. I want you to acknowledge all the places and times where anxiety and fear have stopped you in your tracks.
Pause a moment and look down. We have a tendency to think look down at this external spot where change resides – a change we seemingly can’t reach. Notice “all the downs” between your eyes and feet where X may mark the spot.
Look down to your throat – in your ability to communicate with truth and clarity. Look at your chest – where your big, beautiful vulnerable heart resides. Is the treasure buried there? Look down at your gut (I know it’s getting bigger) – it’s because there is treasure stored in there – creativity, empowerment, self-esteem and self-worth. Get out your shovel and start digging. And just like that wise, compassionate, doctor-man suggested to me, hire a guide, find a compassionate witness and invest in new tools to dig underneath the anxiety and fear to get your spirit back.
Because, another name for that spirit, for that deep connection to self is intuition. Yes, in looking back at that story my mother told about losing my Mary, she was right. My own clarity, my own connection to intuition and spirit began to fade at that young age as I began to absorb the feelings, the pain and concerns of the world which transformed into anxiety. Over the years, my own intuition was replaced in equal measures with anxiety as a regular part of my daily diet. And it impacted my choices, my freedom, my ability to feel, to risk, to… as Brene Brown says …to dare greatly.
Well, I am hear to say…and here to say, that anxiety indeed marked the spot and though it was a long and challenging journey, the treasure that is my life and the access to wisdom and grace through the re-connection with the intuitive way has restored my health, my balance and my life’s purpose.
Is anXiety marking the spot in your life? Start X.
I know that many of us feel at times overwhelmed with all there is to do – all the ways we are asked to show up.
As my intuitive coaching practice has taken off this year, I have so many clients who consult with me because they are seeking a clarity on their life path and feel overwhelmed with the hectic 24/7 pace in their lives. After several clients reported this same sense of overwhelm, I found myself curious as to the meaning of whelm. If we are ‘over’ something, then where is the balance?
So, I went to my favorite source – the dictionary – to find the meaning of whelm.
Whelm: a verb; to engulf or submerge.
Well, the meaning and energy of whelm inspired me to give what I called practicing whelm as an exercise for my clients. One client described her sense of overwhelm as the desire to just drive off the highway and keep going. Another, the inability to let herself create art until all the tasks on the proverbial to-do list were done, which of course they never were and a third who is such a pillar of strength for others that she was literally not able to stand on her own as her health had declined.
In each instance, I suggested an activity or exercise that gave them the opportunity to submerge for a time, to go off road, to take the art break, to let go of a task or an event at work, and just dive underneath the surface of their life’s for five minutes… 10 minutes… 30 minutes and practice whelm without the wait. You see, when we put off balancing our hectic outer lives with our quiet inner life, then the weight of whelm takes over.Women in particular as the nurturer/caretaker often use these descriptors of their emotional landscape – “I feel trapped in a box with no way out,” “I’m drowning,” “I feel weighed down by my life,” or “I’m suffocating.” If you hear yourself say these words this month, take note. Listen to that small, still voice asking to practice whelm. Listen to that voice asking to submerge and sit in the silence for a few moments.
Stretch the body, have a bite to eat, close your eyes and rest. And you will discover this: when you whelm it well – here’s the paradox:
You’ll know when it is time to come back up to the surface and breathe. Practice whelm. It does a mind, heart and soul good!