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Journal

The Wisdom of Deciduous Trees

The Wisdom of Deciduous Trees

As I write, there is still a lot of color left on the trees, although we are past peak. There are also plenty of leaves piling up on the ground so that when I walk on my favorite trails, my footsteps are noisy and crunchy.

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Outside my window, the silver maple tree that looms over the house is sending many yellow leaves twirling and spinning elegantly to the ground. There’s barely even a breeze, so it must be the day the tree decided it’s time to let go.

It’s as if groups of leaves made a pact to fall at the same time: Ready, set, go! They make me smile because they look so playful. It’s their Big Fall, and they are twirling all the way down. Well, some are. Others just plunge down. But the twirlers and the spinners make me smile. If I were a leaf, I would want to do as much twirling as possible during my brief descent to the ground. I’d want my journey to be as artful, authentic, and inspiring as possible, like the plastic bag scene from American Beauty. Do it with gusto. Dance with the wind!

Yesterday, I had my morning all planned out. Then the sun emerged, and I had a feeling that the trees near the main village intersection would be particularly enchanting with the mid-morning sunlight shining through. If I were to adhere to my schedule and visit the trees later, the angle of sunlight would be different. Or clouds might roll in. If the leaves weren’t still brilliantly aflame by the time I arrived, I could try again tomorrow.

However, this time of year beckons us to take action now! Don’t put it off. Between today and tomorrow – or even now and an hour from now – a gust of wind could come along and bring all the leaves to the ground. You can’t assume the leaves will still be on the trees tomorrow or in an hour.

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The dramatic, autumn foliage inspires me to take immediate action. Don’t just make lists and think about what to do. It’s time to actually engage that energy. What do you feel drawn to do right now? What impulse is arising from deep inside of you?  Don’t ignore it! Write that letter. Send that email. Make that phone call. Go out for that drive. Follow up on that lead. Make a meal for that family, friend, or relative. Say those words you know you’d regret not saying if one of you were to die today. Do it! You never know when it will be your last chance or when following your intuition will open a door or build a bridge that would not have manifested if you had ignored it.

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But that’s not all. Colorful, deciduous trees at this time of year also offer another lesson.

Many times this month, I’ve contemplated what the brilliant red, orange, and yellow foliage means to a tree. Leaves turn such vibrant colors as the tree begins its process of shutting down and releasing them, for they are no longer useful. Summer’s green leaves gathered sunlight like many thousands of cells in solar panels and were the means by which the tree received its energy for this year’s growth. But there’s a rhythm to trees and to the year. Now is the time when trees need to let go of all the leaves that provided them with energy and nourishment. For trees, now is not time to accumulate energy and grow. It’s time be wise about conserving energy and let go.

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Here’s a small personal example: I’m taking an online “money manifesting” course because I realize that, as I embark on a new venture, I need to work on my attitude toward money and raise my “money vibration” before I can go any further. Part of the process is visualizing a new money persona and how it would feel to inhabit that persona. During meditation one morning, I noticed all the clutter was cleared out of the house of my “Thriving Creative” persona. Her living space was spacious and uncluttered, and it felt good to be there. I knew instantly that I needed to let go of a lot of stuff, beginning with several crates of teaching books that were taking up space in the living room. Instead of just knowing I need to get rid of stuff (and I’ve known for a long time), this time I had the energy and motivation to actually do it. I researched best methods of selling books and then followed through – and sold virtually all the books within 24 hours! At the same time, I cleared some space and made some money! So I’m working on letting go of both personal possessions and outdated beliefs and attitudes about money and am discovering that letting go of old stuff opens me up to a new flow of energy. Right now it might look barren and unimpressive, but I’m making preparations for future action and growth! Getting rid of books is only the beginning.

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Soon, the deciduous trees in the Northeast will let go of all their leaves. We may feel downhearted when the brilliantly colored landscape fades to brown and gray, and the bare trees herald another long winter. But the greater cycle is about needing to shed what’s no longer useful to prepare for future growth. Trees will grow new leaves in the spring following a period of rest and reflection. We need to keep the greater cycle in mind and realize that we can’t lose anything that is integral to our wholeness. Anything that can be lost isn’t essential at this time or is part of a larger cycle that we might not even be aware of. There’s a universal rhythm we are part of, and what you think will kill you (i.e. letting go of what used to nourish you) is just part of the broader cycle of letting go, resting, being reborn or rejuvenated, and growing. So relax. It’s all good.

We have everything we need for this human journey inside of us, including the capacity to manufacture the strength and qualities we need when we need them. Just as a tree doesn’t die when it sheds its leaves, we are more resilient than we may believe ourselves to be. Every now and then, it’s beneficial to take inventory of our lives and let go of what no longer serves our highest purpose or surrender to the losses that life imposes on us. What looks like a mighty wind stealing the leaves from a tree is part of a greater process in which loss serves a purpose. Fall is a perfect time to follow nature’s lead and ask: What am I being called to let go of in my life? What can I let go of that is no longer necessary or useful? What losses am I being called to surrender to?

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A couple weeks ago, I rode a storm all the way home from the grocery store. As I pulled in the driveway, a powerful gust of wind brought down a flurry of leaves from trees lining the back yard. Sometimes it’s a gentle process –a few leaves coming down over the course of weeks, twirling their way down. Other times, a strong gust comes along (in the form of either great motivation or external circumstances acting upon us) and removes everything we need to let go of.  This great gust might throw us off balance and not be as pleasant as the gentle wind. It might even feel overwhelming! But either way, there are times when life calls or forces us to let go. That’s one of autumn’s greatest gifts. We can come to know both the gentle and gale force winds as grace operating in our lives and serving a greater cycle – which we may or may not yet be able to identify or understand.

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© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor 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 Higher Perspective

A Higher Perspective

Misty autumn mornings on the Hudson River are quite impressive. At this time of year, when it’s not too cold and the morning air is filled with mist, I bring my meditation cushion to the dock and get centered as the mist moves around me. It is in constant motion.

One of my greatest joys at this time of year is to witness the sun as it rises behind the thick curtain of mist and penetrates it, growing brighter by the moment. It is a powerful sensation. What more satisfying way to start the day than to contemplate and fill up with this?

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The spectacle speaks to me of the grace that helps the light to shine through and usher in greater clarity. It speaks to me of light and focus. Cutting through and dispelling the fog that clouds our perception. It is deeply satisfying to witness!

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One recent morning, I sat on the dock and watched the massive wall of mist drift southward down the river. It didn’t seem to rise so much as drift, as if on a conveyor belt. As the end of the mist parade drifted by me, I felt a sudden urge to climb as high as I could and view the remaining mist from above. So I drove down the road and hiked briskly to one of my favorite perches. I arrived just as the tail end of the mist drifted through the colorful, autumn landscape and out of sight.

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The next time conditions were right, I returned to that spot while the mist still blanketed the river.

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It’s one thing to sit in the fog and wait for it to lift (which it will do eventually) and another to decide to step outside of it, rise above it, and regard it from a greater perspective.

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Doing the latter set in motion a yearning to climb higher – mist or no mist – because elevation alone has something to offer.

Without really planning, later that day I ended up on top of Equinox Mountain (highest peak of the Taconic range) in Southern Vermont. The summit elevation of 3,848 feet offered far-ranging views of New England, especially on such a clear day.

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The following day, I was invited to the home of a former student to photograph the breathtaking view from her family’s back yard.

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I’ve been drawn to altitude lately, and this includes spending a few days nestled on a hill at my favorite retreat center a few weeks ago and inviting the elevated energy and space to work their magic on me. The views from up high have been at the same time exhilarating and tranquil. Such dramatic color and beauty. Such peace and quiet.

Every now and then, it’s useful to head to the mountains to take in the greater picture – the patterns and beauty of it all – and to realize that, from a higher perspective, most everything we struggle with and deem important is ultimately so small.

Perhaps is it the desire for that expanded perspective that draws us to the mountains in the first place. An aspiration to rise above life’s distractions and empower ourselves with a greater perspective.

You don’t get caught up in minutia when you’re at the top of a mountain or other elevated place looking down at the world below. You grasp the wider view. You can take inventory of where water flows and where it does not – and how the flow of rivers and streams and the contour of hills and valleys fit into the greater picture. Time feels different on top of a mountain; the far-ranging view inspires patience and is a solid antidote to impatience. You observe clear patterns and the context in which they exist, and witness how everything is interrelated.

I’ve been noticing patterns in my own life, as well – more than ever! It can be uncomfortable and humbling to realize how much work you have to do to release yourself from certain destructive patterns that have been woven into the fabric of your life. But it’s also empowering because you can cultivate the determination to set yourself free – for the tapestry is still a work in progress. But first you have to notice the patterns, by stepping back – or stepping up – and seeing the big picture.

This also brings to mind my recent experience of getting lost inside an enormous corn maze. When you’re on the ground, it’s hard to tell where you are in relation to the big picture. But when you climb a little higher, you can get a sense of the patterns and how to avoid getting stuck in the same places, retracing the same steps, and making the same choices that don’t get you anywhere. You have to retrain your brain to try something different.

With greater distance and spaciousness, you can see and understand more than you would otherwise. I think that is why I have been drawn to hills and mountains lately. I want to see. I am ready to change, by understanding where my attitudes, thoughts, and actions have gotten me and adopting new ones that can help me get where I want to go.

Step out of the fog. See your little piece of the world from a higher perspective. Be observant, and take it all in. Allow the expanded awareness to permeate your thoughts and inspire your actions. This is what I have learned so far from mist and mountains.

© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor 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. 

Morning Glory Intuition

Morning Glory Intuition

This morning, I walked by three morning glories on my way back into the house. They looked a bit wrinkled – not as smooth, plump, and vibrant as the morning glories that were in full bloom during the warmer weather. But good for them for blooming anyway! As I passed one of the morning glories, I heard, “Better late than never!” as if the flower had transmitted those words directly into my mind. Or at any rate, that’s what the image of the morning glory awakened in me on this chilly, mid-October morning. And it really resonates.

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Since returning from retreat two weeks ago, my energy has been strong and flowing and seems to be on a higher frequency than I’ve ever experienced before. It feels like all kinds of new energy is available to me now – energy I have blocked all my life but am finally open and receptive to. (It feels like new neural pathways have opened up!) And along with that comes the need to resist the urge to kick myself for having lived my life as I did until now. All those years when I could have incorporated this energy of greater freedom and abundance that seemed off-limits to me! But thoughts like that don’t serve a constructive purpose, and my speculation is that a few decades isn’t even a drop in the bucket in the lifetime of a soul.

That morning glory inspired me with the message: Don’t die without blooming! Make sure you bloom in this life, while you can. Don’t die with all your colors closed inside you.

The flowers I saw this morning have had the opportunity to open completely, share their colors, and experience both the sun shining on them and a person being inspired by them – and probably the act of pollination, as well. As I write these words, they are experiencing what happens when their colors interact with sunlight and glisten, pearlescent. They are finally experiencing the magic they were made for! They didn’t give up, believing it’s too late in the year and that they missed the boat so to speak, so why bother blooming at this point? They went ahead and did it anyway because there was something inside them that needed to be expressed.

But there’s more.

I came back inside, took off my shoes, and contemplated how perfectly that morning glory message speaks to me. And then my intuition kicked in. It guided me to go back outside and see if there are any morning glories blooming near the Buddha statue in the back yard. That’s another place where they have been coming up this year, but I haven’t paid much attention or been in that area of the yard in a while. And it was chilly outside! I didn’t really feel like putting my shoes back on and going outside again just yet. I wanted to get warm.

But then I felt that nudge again: Go outside and take a look! So I put my shoes back on and went outside. And I found one morning glory – just one – blooming right at the Buddha’s heart center!

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There’s a message living in that image, too (perhaps pertaining to the opening of the heart?) for I filled with awe and satisfaction upon seeing it. And there were no other morning glories anywhere. This was the only one in the entire back yard!

I could stop writing here and go outside and enjoy this beautiful, fall day…but I’d like to say a little more about intuition.

I have been practicing following my intuition lately and have learned that I tend to receive gifts and blessings when I go where intuition pulls me and my energy wants to flow. A few examples from yesterday come to mind.

Yesterday morning, I was outside photographing the misty sunrise on the river and suddenly felt compelled to drive to a park down the road. I didn’t know why but sensed something was there for me. So I went to the park and didn’t find much in the way of scenery calling to me. But when I walked back to my car, an acquaintance greeted me. After some brief small chat, he asked me if I lost a lens cap. Well, I have lost a few lens caps over the past several months, and I was about to buy a new one. For quite some time, I’ve had one fewer lens caps than lenses and have been using a UV filter as a makeshift cap. And then, out of nowhere, this man produced a lens cap that fit my camera like Cinderella’s slipper fit her foot.

Later in the day, I was drawn to the Holistic Healing and Spiritual Arts Expo in town. I was interested in the keynote presentation and resolved to make it to the expo in time for that. Turns out I misremembered the time and missed the presentation, but many gifts were in store at the expo. For instance, a woman gave me a pure light blessing that raised my energy vibration in ways I can’t describe in words, other than to say that it felt like I was glowing like a sun and was a completely open, unobstructed channel for the life energy flowing through me. (And I’m still experiencing it!)

In this open state, I had an amazing conversation with a hypnotherapist and felt so inspired by and connected to her. Our stories were similar, for she left a career in nursing to pursue an entrepreneurial path as a healer. She understood where I’m at, for she had been there herself. As I spoke with her, I felt completely uninhibited about sharing my story and what I have been learning along the way. Conversations like that are healing in and of themselves – and a great source of inspiration.

There were nearly 30 vendor booths, and I perused items for sale with appreciation for the artistry but without any intention of making a purchase. Then I came to one table that featured crystals, rocks, and gemstones and couldn’t walk away, for a small tray of opalized ammonite fossils (ammolites) called to me. I had never seen anything like them before and was completely transfixed by them – and one in particular. (Was it the spiral pattern? The iridescence? The energy?)

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When I picked it up, it felt right in my hand – again, like Cinderella’s slipper – and I couldn’t put it down! After about 10 minutes, I decided that it belonged with me. When I got home, I researched ammonite/ammolite and learned it has strong, transformational properties as a result of going through so much transformation and absorbing so much earth energy over eons. Common uses of ammonite include: activating life path energies, attracting prosperity and success, and building a new business from small beginnings. No wonder I felt so drawn to it!

As I mentioned above, originally I intended to keep this short and only write about the morning glory. But intuition is part of the greater story that the morning glory is part of, and it is at the forefront of my awareness and practice at this time. My working theory is that when we force our energy to flow to places that aren’t a good fit for us, we miss out on the incredible power of intuition and shut ourselves off from a tremendous amount of energy that is available when we follow intuition. This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes, from Thoreau: “Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.”

And so the experiment continues!

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© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor 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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