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Category: Spiritual Journey

Eclipse Stories

Eclipse Stories

Now that the solar eclipse is behind us, I wonder: What is your eclipse story? It’s a question that can be answered on a number of levels depending on how deep you want to go.

On the surface level… I didn’t get any stunning eclipse photos because I had to work during the eclipse. But that’s okay because lots of other people had their cameras pointed at the sun to capture the phenomenal event. My friend Colleen’s 17-year-old son, who lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, managed to capture a stunning image of the eclipse that was selected for the “Daily Dozen” by National Geographic editors out of thousands of submissions, and my buddy, Peter, was able to achieve a quality representation of our partial eclipse via a DIY rig of his Canon Rebel DSLR. And there were many others, as I’m sure you have seen for yourself. Some of the most intriguing images I saw were of sunlight passing through trees and illuminating sidewalk shadows with hundreds of tiny, crescent-shaped lights – like moons, only they were suns.

It was disappointing to have to be indoors during this greatly anticipated celestial event. But when I arrived at work, I was delighted to learn we had permission to go up on the roof to view the eclipse. There were a few pairs of eclipse glasses up there to be shared, along with other viewing options that included a cardboard box pinhole projector and a colander. I watched the eclipse via NASA’s live stream, and when it looked like it was really getting underway, I went up to the roof. The moment I put on the glasses and looked at the moon partially covering the sun was one I always will remember: a WOW moment you might have experienced, too. What a marvelous sight!

I went back to work beaming and feeling supercharged with eclipse energy! I noticed all the people on computers, and it seemed surreal that something so magnificent was taking place in the sky at that moment, and they were indoors staring voluntarily at computer screens. How could you not be blown away by this? (Well, maybe because you didn’t have eclipse glasses or permission to be up on the roof.) I went back up for a second and third glimpse of the astronomical event and was wowwed all over again. The afternoon flew by, to say the least, and since it was quieter than usual, I was able to focus on my eclipse project. 

A few days prior to the eclipse, I came across the idea of “Absolute Yes” and “Absolute No” lists in the book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time by Cheryl Richardson. The “Absolute Yes List” is about priorities: What most needs your immediate attention in the next few months and makes you a stronger and better person? When making decisions, you can ask, “Is this an Absolute Yes?” That question cuts through a lot of schedule clutter and keeps what’s most important in sight. It’s also important to be aware of your absolute noes. The “Absolute No List” is a list of things that weaken and irritate you and lead you away from the person you want to be. The day before the eclipse, I started creating my lists while floating in my kayak on the river. During the eclipse, when I wasn’t up on the roof viewing the spectacle through special glasses, I engaged with the eclipse energy by putting the finishing touches on my Absolute Yes and No Lists and setting intentions based on them.

Yesterday morning, I took it a step further. I’ve gotten into the habit of paddling to a quiet spot on the river in the morning and stopping there to savor a cup of tea. Holding the mug of hot tea in my hands, I reflected on my yes and no lists and the feelings behind each item and practiced feeling those feelings. As I sipped the tea, I imagined I was drinking in those feelings that I really thirsted for. I realized that, most of all, I wanted to feel aligned with my Higher Self in both thought and action. Several items on my lists were about making time for self-care in the morning, and I realized that taking time to realign with spirit every morning is essential. This includes not checking email, messages, or social media or focusing on anything else until after I have spent some quality time checking in with myself. In other words, get on the Innernet before going on the Internet!

A couple of intuitive astrologers I follow stressed the significance of the period between this month’s lunar and solar eclipses and the current lunar cycle. They said that the effects of the solar eclipse may be felt for a few months after the actual event and that it is a good time for planning, setting intentions, and resetting/reorganizing your life in terms of what you want to do. Unexpected events, revelations, and endings might happen suddenly on a personal and/or planetary level, and it’s all part of a cleansing process.

I love a good metaphor, especially when it comes from the natural world. Whether or not you believe in astrology, the solar eclipse offers metaphors that can take your experience of it to a deeper level so that what happened celestially mirrors or activates something in you. For example, during a solar eclipse, the shadow blocking the light is exposed, and you can put on special glasses that give you the ability to actually see what is blocking the light. On an intrapersonal level, this translates to getting a glimpse of your shadow self and the unconscious blocks that might be sabotaging you and perpetuating illusions that you believe to be true about yourself and others. It can be inconvenient or even scary to become aware of your shadow side or the unconscious blocks and self-sabotaging factors that have been operating in your life behind the scenes. But these realizations are ultimately positive because becoming aware of your unconscious material is a first step in setting yourself free, which is something that can’t happen when it remains hidden. It is an opportunity for clarity, disillusionment, and empowerment. 

When I ask about eclipse stories, this is what I’m getting at: stories involving life-changing realizations and events. Epiphanies. Things you cannot unsee once you’ve seen them, much like the moment I put on the special glasses and saw the shadow of the moon blocking the sun. My own eclipse story seems to begin last weekend, when I ended up at The Abode of the Message by “accident”. Being there helped me to realize I have a need to be part of a spiritually supportive community, and I put that high up on my Absolute Yes List

The day following the eclipse, I had a conversation with some co-workers during which a sentence came out of my mouth that felt a little too honest and self-revealing. Walking away from that conversation was a WTF moment that lingered as I floated on the water the next morning. It was an opening to a surprising realization that explained quite clearly why I haven’t had more success in a certain endeavor – a feeling that I have been misplacing my energy. My speech (which reflects attitudes, beliefs, and feelings) was blocking and even sabotaging my best efforts. Once I glimpsed that block, I couldn’t unsee it and realized I need to make some changes: Either do the work to remove the block or let go of the endeavor, and move towards something that feels more aligned with who I really am and what I really want. 

Similarly, since the eclipse, I’ve also been able to see more clearly the shadow side of others, which allows me to act appropriately and set healthier boundaries based on the clarity that seems to grow stronger every day. Again, disillusionment provides an invitation to either change yourself or your perceptions in some way or to let go of unhealthy relationships. Whatever you do, you can’t unsee what was hidden previously or continue on, status quo.

So, that’s my eclipse story so far. I might have missed out on photographing the eclipse this time around, but I hear that in 2024, our area will experience a total solar eclipse – and I will be ready for it and will make sure I don’t have to work, even though it was fun and memorable to hang out with coworkers on the roof viewing the eclipse through special glasses, cardboard box pinhole projectors, and colanders. And perhaps at that time, while looking through the lens of my camera at the shadow of the moon blocking the sun, I will reflect on the amazing and surprising ways my life changed course after the eclipse of 2017 when some pretty important truths all of a sudden became visible to me.

I wish the same for you.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

A Dragonfly Story

A Dragonfly Story

I was on the front porch this afternoon doing some work when I happened to look up and notice a dragonfly just outside one of the windows. It made me smile because I have a special place in my heart for dragonflies.

But it didn’t fly away or land. It just kind of hovered outside the window. As I watched it, the hovering seemed rather unnatural and odd. I began to suspect it was caught in a spider web and got up to take a closer look.

Then I noticed the dragonfly begin to spin fast and also noticed a tiny spider a few inches above it spinning its arms like a masterful puppeteer. (Honestly, it reminded me of Voldemort in Harry Potter.) Clearly, this dragonfly was in a deathtrap and in the process of being bound, paralyzed, and eventually having the life sucked out of it by the hungry predator it was now powerless against.

Well, with all due respect to spiders and their fantastic webs, this was not going to happen on my watch! I was not about to stay put and watch a beautiful dragonfly become a lifeless shell of its former, dazzling self. No siree!

Not knowing if it was too late, I grabbed a long object (since the web was higher than I could reach), bolted outside and batted at the web until the dragonfly became detached from the spider and the web.

The binding process had only just begun, and I saw that there weren’t many sticky threads attached to the dragonfly yet. So I picked it up and brought it inside to inspect it. There were bits of sticky web and binding threads caught on its delicate wings and legs, and I began to remove them ever so carefully, knowing not to touch its fragile wings.

The dragonfly stayed with me for about a half hour as I tended to it and gave it all the love I could. Every now and then, it flew away only to drop to the ground because there were still some threads attached that restricted its movement. Eventually, I managed to get the last bits of spider web off, and the dragonfly flew out of sight.

This little creature must not have realized how close it was to danger. Then it got caught in the web that at first sight probably didn’t look so dangerous. It got too close, got stuck, and couldn’t break free. It must have been terrified when it realized how sticky the web was and how powerless it was against it! And then the very hungry and merciless spider sprang into action. At that point, I imagine the weak dragonfly gave up hope that it ever could break free from the situation and probably thought: What’s the useI’ll never be that brisk, shimmering being again. 

But even in your bleakest moment, you never know who’s looking out for you – who will step in and act on your behalf and watch over you as you recover from the trauma and clear the sticky debris from your wings…because even though you are a tiny dragonfly, YOU MATTER.

The point is: Don’t give up. Even when the situation seems hopeless, and all odds seem to be against you, somebody just might be looking out for you, ready to take action to help you get your wings untangled from the web that seemed so impossible to release yourself from. You might even have a guardian angel working behind the scenes, perhaps in response to a loved one’s prayers for divine intercession. I don’t know how these things work, only that the dragonfly wasn’t paying close enough attention and ended up in the web, and I happened to notice at just the right time.

I often wonder if trees experience time the same way humans do. If so, I imagine being rooted in one place for such a long time would feel like eternity! But I suspect time moves more quickly for trees and probably more slowly for dragonflies, whose lifetimes are so brief compared to humans. That half hour in my care (not to mention the time it was caught in the web) might have felt like years to the dragonfly. Perhaps it felt like a very long time for it to recover from its brush with death in the spider web and rid its wings and legs of the sticky debris so it could once again fly right. Perhaps it required patience – the trying, the falling, the humility of it all, and having to give it a little more time before trying again.

I like to think that when it finally did fly off – perhaps back to its dragonfly family – it did so a little wiser as a result of what it had experienced, with greater knowledge of the nature of spider webs, what to look out for, and how to avoid them in the future. Perhaps the dragonfly flew off with a renewed sense of purpose, a better understanding of its strengths and resources, and a realization that there is goodness in the world and that it is loved deeply.

Thank you, my little dragonfly friend, for giving me this parable. I hope you are zipping around again, feeling loved, and sharing your survival story with all your dragonfly friends. And I’ll share it with mine because it is a story of hope, and I know quite a few people who could use a little of that right now.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Living Heaven (When It Feels Like Hell)

Living Heaven (When It Feels Like Hell)

Every spring, I await the arrival of the Omega Institute catalog in the mail. I’ve only attended a program there twice, but the catalog inspires me. Even if I don’t sign up for a workshop, I find other uses for the catalog. For example, it’s good vision board material.

It took me more than a month to read this year’s catalog from cover to cover. I dog-eared some pages with the intention of signing up for a program and eventually selected a weekend workshop called Living Heaven Now with Anita Moorjani and John Holland. Anita, author of Dying to Be Me and What If This Is Heaven?, underwent a near-death experience in 2006 that transformed her life, and John Holland is a widely renowned psychic medium and author. I hadn’t heard of him, but Anita’s books and TED Talk resonated and inspired me deeply, and the combination of perspectives was compelling because she had crossed over and returned with a story to share about what she experienced on the other side, and he talks to dead people. I registered for the workshop mostly because Anita’s teachings focus on loving yourself and living your life fearlessly, and tender, loving self-care is what I am giving special attention to this year.

For me, the high points of the weekend were two guided meditations. Anita led a lengthy visualization based on her near-death experience in which we imagined ourselves on our deathbed with our loved ones gathered around. Before taking our last breath, we reflected on the life we led – the joys, sorrows, successes, regrets, etc. Then we let go and entered the nonphysical realm where we were without gender, race, culture, beliefs, grudges, judgment, etc. and were surrounded by unconditional love. We were greeted by someone (in my case, my mom) and then became aware of more loving presences around us – some we recognized and others we didn’t. We also faced the person who hurt us the most in this lifetime but interacted as two pure essences and acknowledged that we had a soul agreement that was based on deep love. In this realm, we could understand why everything happened as it did. Eventually, we learned it was not our time, and we had to return to our bodies to live our lives fearlessly. We were given a second chance at life, and what were we going to do with it? What would we do differently? What was most important now?

Needless to say, there were many tears flowing during this profound inner journey! Seeing my children gathered around my bed and knowing I’d have to leave them, being with my parents and other loved ones who had passed on, being with the person who had hurt me the most free of all human defilements and limitations and feeling nothing but unconditional love between us, learning about my gifts and purpose – each step of this inner journey brought a fresh round of tears, peace, and clarity. I felt like a waterfall. But it was good.

The following day, John led us through a “soul shift” process based on Pete Sanders’ work, that took our awareness up through our body, all the way to the top of our head, and then up higher and higher, into our soul essence where we could receive answers to any questions we had and communicate with loved ones in the nonphysical. It was a place of love, kindness, wisdom, and deep peace that felt very different from being in my head and body.

There was a lot of content presented and discussed throughout the weekend, and my biggest takeaway was an awareness of my gifts, talents, and abilities along with the realization that in order to use them to their fullest potential, I must learn how to manage and balance them effectively. To be clear, I’m talking about empathy, sensitivity, and compassion, which could mutate into overcaring, overhelping, and enabling. It’s important to keep these qualities in check so they will serve me and not drain me. Only then will I be better able to serve others, which is why I believe we were given our gifts and talents in the first place.

This wisdom came at exactly the right time and was put to the test hard-core and immediately in real life.

When I first wake up in the morning, my mind is like a coloring book page with faint, glowing outlines of some kind of cosmic blueprint or pattern. It feels great: A new day, a fresh slate with endless possibilities! However, for the past several mornings, the pattern quickly fills in with the heavy colors of this world, and my stomach ties itself in knots. I reach for a positive feeling or affirmation so the gravity of the world will not bring me down. The realization sets in again, as it does every morning lately: Someone I love very much is going through hell. Hell like I never could have imagined. Hell that I cannot fix. They are the only one who can do anything about it. I have tried to go back in time and figure out where things started to unravel, which is both natural and futile. Is there something I could have done to prevent it? These are not productive places to focus my energy and attention.

Mostly, I feel confused. What is true? What isn’t? What are the real issues? As a highly empathic person, I can’t help but feel my loved one’s pain. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, and the stakes are very high.

I suspect one of my lessons in this lifetime is to strengthen my backbone to keep my caring nature in check so I can do more good in the world. In many situations, my backbone is just fine, but sometimes it needs work because I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings. And just when I believe I’ve done the work and have a solid backbone, it’s as if the Universe comes along and says, “Ya think so? OK, let’s see how you handle this.” You could call it the Accelerated Learning Plan, and I’m beginning to believe it’s what I signed up for this time around.

I’m grateful to have the soul-shift technique in my spiritual toolbox along with many other resources that can help me navigate this challenging situation. Through meditation or “shifting” out of ordinary consciousness, I can receive answers that aren’t charged with fear. When I tune to that channel, I realize there is so much support in the nonphysical realm, and I am never alone. Neither is my loved one who is going through hell on earth at the moment. Synchronicities provide further evidence of this, and we’ve experienced a number of them.

The guided meditation Anita Moorjani led us through helped me to realize on a deeper level that we are both divine beings manifesting in this life, and their soul has reasons for experiencing this path – spiritual reasons that I don’t understand. I have to trust that their soul wants to learn and grow in certain ways and that on another plane, what looks like hell serves a spiritual purpose. Looking at the situation from this perspective does not diminish my compassion or caring, but it takes the edge off my anxiety and fear so I can discern more clearly the best action to take. I want my actions to be guided by love, not fear. Yes, the stakes are very high from our earthly perspective, but the universe is infinite, and from an expanded perspective where the ceiling is infinitely higher (if there is even a ceiling at all), things aren’t as dire as they appear to our small, human minds.

I expect that at the end of our lives, just like at the end of The Wizard of Oz, we will discover that we had the power all along. I believe that about my distressed loved one. We have no idea how powerful we are until we stop deceiving ourselves and giving away our power (by blaming others and making ourselves into victims) and start doing the work.

In the past 48 hours, I have had to practice tough love and say no when it was very hard to do so. I realize the importance of setting healthy boundaries and not accepting responsibility that isn’t mine. Resisting the urge to jump in and rescue. This is not easy for an “empath” to do, but it is necessary! Compassion is more effective when it is fused with wisdom, and empathy is more effective when it is supported by a strong backbone and an abundance of Self-love.

I realize it’s important to make time to go to that soul space where I know all is well so as not to get sucked in or drained by earthly drama. In that place, I realize there are much larger forces at work and so much more to the situation than I can perceive from where I stand, and it’s not up to me to try to make everything right. My job is to shine my light as brightly as I can by expressing my gifts, talents, and abilities to their fullest potential. Ironically, challenges help me to shine even brighter and to experience more of my divine nature and greater strength and joy. I might not be able to choose the circumstances I encounter, but I can choose the thoughts and beliefs that will help me navigate them. For example, I’ve learned not to ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” but to consider what my soul might want to learn from it or simply trust that there is some kind of soul lesson involved.

I remind myself throughout the day that “All Is Well”, even when it seems anything but well from where I stand. Remembering that alleviates the anxiety and fear and stops my mind from running in circles. Then I can get to work.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

In Celebration of Clarity

In Celebration of Clarity

There are times
when clarity dawns gently
almost imperceptibly
and there are times
when it falls like a sword
because the gentle dawning
did not penetrate
deep enough to take hold.
However it comes
it is merciful
even when its sting
is excruciating
for clarity
is always a blessing.

When the sword of clarity
cuts clean through illusion
you cannot unsee or forget
the truth it reveals
as hard as you may try.
Illusion is pierced and broken
and cannot hold
your projections anymore
and a question arises
from the rubble:
Are you ready to honor
yourself and the truth
that has been revealed
or will you continue
to swim against the current
and cling to whatever
pieces of illusion
you possibly can?
In other words: Will you
act on what you know to be true
or what you wish were true?

When clarity arises,
don’t feel ashamed
of mistakes you made
or how foolishly you acted,
what you did or didn’t say.
Instead be grateful
for what you have learned
and how it can serve you
going forward.
Hold your head high
and fear not:
There is no reason for
punishment or judgment
when a dark space
becomes illuminated.
The newly illuminated
are the only ones shedding tears
when they understand how much
unnecessary pain
their ignorance caused
and isn’t time spent in darkness
punishment enough?

When a child finally
sees the light, lets it in
and allows it to release her
from bondage and suffering
what parents would choose
condemnation of their beloved
over gladness?
And why wouldn’t it be
the same with souls
and their Creator
or any parts of
an evolving whole?
Stepping out of disempowered
darkness and into light
is cause for celebration
whenever it happens
no matter how long it takes
and the enlightened ones rejoice.

-Susan Meyer

Thank You Clarity Words in the Sand

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

I Choose to Shine

I Choose to Shine

Today
I choose  to shine.
I wake up and think a positive thought
before opening my eyes,
ride that wave for a while
and choose another
then get out of bed
and make time for self-care
by drinking warm lemon water
and speaking loving words
into the mirror.
Then I take a walk and gather sunlight
before going to work
because today I choose to shine
one day at a time
because shining feels better
than shrinking.

Today I turn off my phone
and silence the voices of others
until I have connected with my Self
and can hear where love and soul
call me forward.
I choose to release what is not
in alignment with that
and to heal myself
for my own sake and so
I can be more helpful to others.

I open my ears to birdsong
and the beating of a great blue heron’s wings
as it lifts into the air.
I listen to my footsteps on the path
and inspiration — tune to that channel
and away from obsessive thoughts and worries,
naysayers and critics.
I open my eyes
to beads of dew on sunlit ferns
and goodness in the world around me.
I feel the cool morning air on my skin
and joy and hope and wonder
and gratitude — such gratitude
for even the smallest,
most wondrously ordinary things.
I taste my food
and the deliciousness of the moment
and smell spring and blooming
in the air.
I affirm that all is well in my world
no matter what is on my plate
or in the news
and know I can handle
whatever comes my way.

Today I make friends
with the present moment, Eternal Now
and make love in so many ways:
by listening closely,
offering a smile or kind gesture,
appreciating nature
and feeling my connection
with all living things.

Today I will not let anyone
dim my sparkle or snuff out my light.
I open myself to the blessings
that are trying to reach me
and attune to yes and love and light and spirit
and true intimacy.
I express what is in my heart
without holding back
because today I choose to shine.

No matter what transpired yesterday
today is a new day
and I choose to shine.

– Susan Meyer

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

What She Wanted

What She Wanted

When my mom was alive, before any holiday or birthday she would ask me what I wanted. I almost always answered that I don’t need or want anything. My mom liked material things, and I tended to rebel against that and distinguished myself from her through my response to that question.

But it was true: I wasn’t interested in things or clothes. Never went on vacation. Didn’t watch TV. I bought the wedding dress for my first wedding off the rack at Macy’s for $70 only a week before the big day, and I just wore my favorite outfit for my second wedding. I was content where I was, with what I had. My maternal grandmother would comment that she and I were very much alike because we didn’t need fancy things. Give us the wind in the trees, and we could be content. In fact, the last time I visited my grandmother at her home before she fell and went into a nursing home for the last couple months of her life, we sat on her front steps appreciating the sight and sound of the wind in the late summer trees. I loved that, at the end of her life, she found contentment in something so simple and ordinary and that I could join her in that space.

It seemed my mom always wanted more. She loved going to the mall, even if only to look (which I totally didn’t understand because the only time you could get me into a mall was if I had a specific, unavoidable purpose). She grew up poor and was determined not to live that way as an adult. She started working right after graduating from high school and, with the exception of taking some years off to raise children, kept working until a few years before she passed away – at which point she retired from what many would consider a rather glamorous job at a performing arts venue.

She was so generous every Christmas and experienced obvious joy in giving gifts to everyone. Anytime she’d give me money for my birthday, Mother’s Day, or just because, she would tell me to make sure to get something for myself and not spend it on household bills or anyone else. She wanted me to treat myself. Occasionally I would, and more often I would intend to, but inevitably somebody would need something, and I would pass on getting something for myself because the gift was needed elsewhere.

A year or two after my mom died, I was downtown and walked past a shop that had something in the window that captured my attention. Normally, that doesn’t happen because I couldn’t be less interested in shopping. (Retail therapy is not in my self-help repertoire!) I can’t remember what the object was, but when it caught my eye, I felt sad that my mom wasn’t around to ask what I’d like for Christmas…because she was the only one who ever asked, and this time I would have had an answer. And it would have made her so happy that I had an answer!

I spent two full months this year decluttering my home completely. After getting rid of all the stuff I didn’t love or use, I focused on making my home a sanctuary aligned with my authentic Self. I looked around the house and received clear insights about what could make it feel more like I wanted it to. I had received some insurance money after my dad passed away in October and bought some things to elevate the energy of our small, 1840s rental home: a couple Japanese shoji room dividers to create closet spaces where none existed, several plants, a standing desk converter, a digital photo frame loaded with hundreds of my images – things like that. I also finally did something I had wanted to do for many years, which was to wrap some silk vines around the railings on the stairs and weave fairy lights through them. So magical! Now, everywhere I look in my house, my eyes rest on spaces and objects that are beautiful, useful, and/or intentional and that bring me joy. Everything else is gone! It’s an amazing feeling.

However, as I mentioned in my last post, there was one final thing that needed to be upgraded: my bed. The bed I had been sleeping in was tiny and uncomfortable, and when we moved everything out of my parents’ house, I claimed the bed from their guest room, which seemed like an improvement. But it, too, was small and didn’t feel quite right, and eventually I discovered it was more than 20 years old, which was at least twice as old as the bed I previously had been sleeping on. A few weeks ago, I was lying on my bed looking at my vision board hanging on the wall and was drawn to a picture of a large, comfy bed. That’s when I convinced myself to let go of the hand-me-down beds and buy a new one. And with that purchase, my home improvements felt complete.

This morning (Mother’s Day), I got out of bed and created a Mother’s Day altar, which I’d never done before. I clipped some lilacs from a tree in the yard and put them in a vase my mom used for lilacs she clipped from our yard when I was a child. I also placed on the altar her funeral candle and a Mother’s Day card I’d just made, along with a crystal heart and a small turtle with the words “Live with joy” on its back.

Living with joy is my Mother’s Day gift to my mom, wherever she is. Isn’t joy what mothers ultimately want for their children? It’s what I want for mine.

Two years ago, grief felt enormous, as if it penetrated all the way down into my bones. I can’t remember ever feeling sadder than I was during May two years ago when my first Mother’s Day without my mom and the anniversary of her passing were complicated by additional losses. But time really does heal. And having the energy to finally take charge of my home and make it beautiful, uplifting, and joyful was both a big deal and a milestone. It felt like stepping out of the dark forest I had been wandering in since my mom passed away.

I have to believe she would be happy for me because the journey I have been on since February is one of learning to love and value myself and ramp up the joy by creating a sanctuary to support my vision of my best self and who I want to be moving forward. In other words, it’s a process of reclaiming my life. I have created a joyful, uplifting infrastructure from which to create my future. That infrastructure includes details such as:

  • an elegant, crystal pitcher of local spring water on a small table in my bedroom (found when clearing out my parents’ home)
  • red, silk roses in a vase next to my bed
  • a bed tray for having tea and reading a nourishing book before falling asleep
  • an aromatherapy diffuser for creating a lavender-scented bedroom to facilitate sleep
  • a comfy pillow that wraps around my entire body

And that’s just the bedroom! At night, I look forward to “lavender and rose” time with lavender aromatherapy and rose tea while reading or listening to something nourishing so my last impressions of the day are positive and empowering. That’s important because they are what my unconscious mind will marinate in for the next eight hours!

None of these items would have crossed my mind back when my mom asked me for gift ideas. I didn’t think of them until I cleared my home of clutter and reflected on what would make me feel comfortable, joyful, and loved – which is exactly how she wanted me to feel and was the intention behind her gift question. As I decluttered the objects and spaces in my home, a powerful, parallel process took place inside my head that rippled into other areas of my life. The work I have done in my home this year is an act of tender, loving self-care that grows from my mother’s love, for which I have immense gratitude.

The special touches in my home feel like what you would put in place if you were expecting an honored, beloved guest. Throughout the course of decluttering and uplifting my living space, I have become my own honored guest and best friend, which is no small thing coming from someone who used to have a strong inner critic. What parent wouldn’t want that for his or her child?

So, Happy Mother’s Day to my angel mom! My light is bright again, and I think it’s the best gift I can give you because it’s what you always wanted for me.


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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

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