Showing posts with label M.O.W.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label M.O.W.. Show all posts

Monday, July 26, 2010

Healing the Cracks

Lessons Learned from a Glass Guru
(part 3 of 3)

For the last two weeks, I’ve been sharing with you my experience of spending time with Sheldon, a glass technician for SafeLite AutoGlass Repair. (click here to read the last two articles.) I spent no more than an hour with this young man and, in that time, as we talked about my repairing my windshield, Sheldon shared bits of wisdom that caught my attention and that I could apply to many aspects of life.

I’ve had windshield chips repaired before, but I’ve never been privy to watching the process and having it explained to me step by step. Generally, my experience of windshield repair has looked like dropping off my car, sitting in a filthy waiting room until the project is complete, having my number called and then leaving. I assumed the same would happen for this project, the only difference being I would be able to go back into my clean, nice-smelling home to wait. However, that was not the case.

After opening the garage, introducing Sheldon to my car and talking with him about the craters in my windshield caused by the meteoroid that slammed into me, I turned to go inside while he worked. He had returned to his vehicle to gather the tools of his trade and as my hand touched the doorknob, he called out, “Angie, what do you do for work?”

His question sparked a conversation about my work as he set up shop on the hood of my car. This resulted in me staying looped into his presence and, rather than going inside to pour over homework, I stayed in the garage and got to know my technician a little better.

SheldonIt was fascinating to witness Sheldon’s precision and intent of perfection as he worked. I was enthralled with learning about the process of healing glass. The fact that he was taking resin - strong glue - and dripping it into the cracks and that was going to make the glass whole was absolutely magical to me. This sheet of glass that is curved to match the body of my car and built to withstand all but the most vicious of impacts was once wounded and dangerously cracked, but was now healed.

At one point in the process of fixing my windshield, Sheldon could have stopped prior to the point of perfection and absolute surety that the cracks were sealed. At that point, the windshield looked fairly pretty, but it would have been a gamble with time and nature as to whether the cracks spread. If he hadn’t said anything at that point, I wouldn’t have known the difference if it never cracked, but he could see that the problem didn’t appear to be fully resolved. He explained to me that the process of trying again... and again... would make it a little more unattractive each time, but he wouldn’t give up until he was sure he’d sealed it. That sounded like a good plan to me.

repairing glassI was in awe that glue could cause the glass to fuse together as if there never was a problem and I thought that was miraculous. However, Sheldon was not pleased because the craters and spidering cracks were still visible. His healing job of my glass was not beautiful in his eyes.

“I’m sorry, Angie. These chips were really bad.” My Glass Guru sounded dejected. “I can’t make it look pretty for you.”

“I don’t care about pretty, Sheldon. I care that the cracks won’t spread and cause me to have to purchase a new windshield. You did what you had to do to make that happen.”

“Thanks for not getting mad,” Sheldon said. “Some people expect there to be absolutely no trace of the holes or cracks. Sometimes people get so focused on having a perfect appearance they lose track of what is really important... fixing the hole and the cracks.”

In life there are people who are so concerned with having a perfect appearance on the surface of their life, they lose track of their inner focus. Rather than being fully human and flawed by emotional expression, these people believe that putting on a pretty face and covering up how they truly feel is the best plan. This superficial focus results in inner turmoil as the body strives to stay in balance.

healed cracksA cracked surface of your emotional body or energy field is the result of bottling up your emotions rather than expressing them. Emotions are energy that wants to move. If you’re conditioned to not express your emotions - you’ve learned that they’re scary or “bad” or you’ve been taught that “boys don’t cry” - whatever the reasoning is behind your willingness to stuff your emotions, it is that very process of stuffing the emotions that will forge chasms through your system. Then, when you are focused on appearing perfect to the world, things can fall through the cracks and get lodged within where they simmer and stew. In this process, while you think you may be fooling the world, from certain angles your holes and cracks will be painfully obvious.

There is a resin, though, that can seal the cracks of your life. When you choose to begin to fully experience, feel and express your emotions as they surface, this will slowly work to heal and seal the cracks that once were. Even though it may seem scary at first to feel those emotions, it is in the feeling of these emotions wherein healing lies. And, amazingly enough, this wholeness is more attractive in any light than any superficial fa├žade you could ever create.

© Angie K. Millgate 7/11/10

Monday, July 19, 2010

Persistence in Healing

Persistence in Healing
Lessons Learned from a Glass Guru
(part 2 of 3)

Last week, I began a 3-part series about my time spent with Sheldon, a glass technician for SafeLite AutoGlass Repair. (click here to read last week's article.) My time with him was short - although longer than either of us had expected due to the difficulty of my windshield's issues - but powerfully impactful.

As Sheldon worked, I witnessed utter perfectionism and a genuine desire to serve. He graciously cleaned my windows - all of them, not just the windshield. He vacuumed the floors of the front of the car - even though I told him he didn't need to because he hadn't made any mess at all. And, when the second hole didn't mend on the first try, he went a different route.

Sheldon - excellent customer service!I admired his persistence and high level of integrity as he worked at the second hole. He could have left it as it was on his first attempt and I would have been none the wiser, especially if the cracks never spread. However, he was unhappy with the first attempt because it appeared several of the cracks had not accepted the resin and were not sealed. The danger of this was that I would run the risk of further crack-growth and face the possibility of having irreparable damage that would result in having to replace my windshield.

I held my breath as I watched him employ his own style of fixing the situation that, he claimed, was unlike anything any other technician would try. While I was immensely grateful that he was willing to go above and beyond to fix the craters in my windshield, I felt afraid as I watched his process. He glanced up at me and laughed.

"Maybe you need to breathe," my Glass Guru said.

"Oh yeah! That would be helpful," I said.

I laughed and began moving my body, coaching myself as if I were the client in one of my own sessions. He grinned and went back to work while I pondered the meaning of this experience and the reasons for calling it into my life.

third tryThe second attempt to seal the cracks didn't work either. With mounting frustration, he set up once again for his unique process. This time was not as traumatizing and I watched with fascination as he went through all the steps.

A few minutes later, as he proudly wiped down the window he said quietly, "Sometimes things don't work on the first try. Sometimes they don't even happen on the second try. But with persistence, the right tools and skills, and with my own tricks, I can get it to work. Eventually."

Yes. Sometimes things don't work on the first or second try. Sometimes they do work on the third try and sometimes you have to just keep trying until you succeed. At times, a microscopic shift in how you're approaching a project will be enough to bring it to fruition in the blink of an eye. At other times, it requires an entirely new approach to find success. The key is knowing when to shift slight or when to change your approach. Or, even, when it's time to throw in the towel and scrap the project all together because there is no hope of ever succeeding.

That last option is one of the most painful to look at, especially when time, energy and emotion has gone into whatever it is you've been working toward. But sometimes the healthiest approach is to really look at the truth of the situation, declare it complete and move on.

© Angie K. Millgate 07/09/10

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dance of Light and Dark


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The Dance of Light and Dark
Lessons Learned from a Glass Guru
(part 1 of 3)

A few nights ago, I was driving along the freeway at the correct speed limit - surprisingly, not over the speed limit - and laughing with my daughter as we sped along. Traffic was moving along at a smooth, rapid click and all seemed right with the world.

Suddenly, I saw this object flying, seemingly out of nowhere, with startling velocity and I knew it was going to hit me. I had no hope of getting out of its way and, a split second later, the huge rock slammed into my windshield with such force that my daughter and I both screamed and ducked to avoid the impact. It was a good sized rock - about the size of a man's fist - and took two considerably-sized chunks of glass out of my windshield, leaving behind two divots with at least 20 cracks spidering out from each. Not a good situation.

Given the location of the craters - at the base of the windshield by the dashboard - I knew it was something that needed to be taken care of without delay to avoid crack growth due to intense heat. Immediately, I got on the phone to place a claim with my insurance company. It was a brief call, very supportive and informational. They got me set up with SafeLite AutoGlass Repair, a mobile windshield repair company that was going to come out the next day and all was well in my world again.

The next morning, I called in to confirm with the glass company. They said, "You can expect your technician to arrive between noon and five."

Well... for half of that time, I would be at my home. For the other part, I would be at work. This created a bit of a "situation" that required some juggling, but they were willing to do whatever it took to get my problem resolved. Things were shifting in the repairman's schedule and, after three different phone calls, it was decided he would come to my home to fix it. He was courteous and accommodating on the phone and even more so in person.

Sheldon arrived on my doorstep with a big smile and about 15 minutes early. He apologized for the continual changing of the scheduling but, for me, no apology was necessary. None of the morning's conversations had been painful or irritating for me so I was happy as a clam either way. The mere fact that he was coming to my home to fix it and I didn't have to wait in some stinky waiting room somewhere and it was getting done that day, before it had a chance to grow, was enough to make everything okay.

He whistled when he saw my "chips" and said the same thing I did when it happened, "I can't believe it didn't go through!" I felt happy that I wasn't being overly dramatic. It really was as bad as I thought it was!

healing glassHe efficiently set up shop on the hood of my car, being certain to place a towel beneath his bag and equipment to protect my paint job. He was willing to carry on conversation and share with me his process and why he was doing "that" each step of the way. I liked that because I'm such a curious person and his dialogue answered all of my wonderings.

"When I'm working with glass," Sheldon explained early on in the process, "I watch for the lightness and the darkness within the crack. How a crack reflects light tells me how it's reacting to what I am doing. If there is darkness, I haven't successfully opened up the crack and the resin is not getting in to seal it off and stop further spreading."

healing lightAs I listened to my Glass Guru, I correlated his words to what I do in my healing work. What he said of glass is the same I can say of my clients. When I'm working with them, I can see where there is Light and where there is Dark. If there is an unwillingness to open up in the space of Darkness, the healing Light cannot get in. If this happens, my client stays "cracked" and runs the risk of that crack spreading.

In life, there are many things that fracture you and cause fissures wherein your energy can leak out. When you are cracked, you find yourself tired or irritable or quick to offend. When you are cracked, you take on the energy and attitudes of others and may find yourself acting beastly and then wondering what on earth is wrong with you.

I invite you to take a moment to look at your life and ask yourself these questions: Am I cracked? Is it in my heart? My spirit? My mind? Where am I taking on that which is not my own? And, most importantly, am I ready and willing to heal these cracks?

Healing your cracks is a powerful step that provides forward momentum. It happens from within you and requires readiness and willingness. It is truly a dance between the Light and Dark that, when complete, although there may be a residual scar, the healing leaves you like a solid pane of glass.

© Angie K. Millgate 07/09/10

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Whole Picture

The Whole Picture

One of my most favorite television shows is FlashForward (ABC) - the premise of this show is that there was a worldwide blackout where everyone (save for a few, select people) passed out for just over two minutes. During those two minutes, each person was privy to their portion of the same day and time in the future which has resulted in millions of people searching for answers.

whole pictureAs I watched the latest episode, I was struck by the message of it that applies directly to everyday life. One of the character's flash forward showed her being drowned and fighting for her life. She sat with a man whose character is emerging as a new age inspirational prophet of sorts who believes the flash forwards are positive, even amongst all the death and destruction that happened during the two minutes of unconsciousness. She shared her flash forward with him, utterly convinced that she was seeing her death at the hands of some unknown man.

She ended her sharing with, "I saw my own murder. How can that be positive?"

whole picture"Perhaps," the man said, "You weren't seeing your drowning but, rather seeing your baptism?"

"But I was struggling. I was terrified."

"Many people struggle with a full immersion baptism. When the water hits their nose, their automatic human response is panic. Perhaps, it was a baptism you witnessed. These flash forwards are mere snapshots and possibilities and can be looked at many ways if you choose to open your mind to other possibilities."

As the show went on, I thought a lot about that... "open your mind to other possibilities."

whole pictureOften times in my life when I experience something I don't understand, I have a tendency to unleash my brain to ruminate on it to uncover its meaning. Inevitably, I will fixate on one possibility - generally the first one that shows up - effectively closing off the avenues for any further explorations. It is at this time, especially, that it is most important for me to look at the possibility that I may not be seeing the whole picture.

Each moment we are privy to only snapshots, small snippets of the bigger picture. And sometimes, in these moments, our little snapshot is not enough to make a clear and accurate decision about what is truly the whole situation.

whole pictureWhen next you find yourself in a situation wherein you are absolutely convinced that it has to be such and such, I invite you to take a breath and ask yourself, "Is it possible that I only have part of the information, only part of the whole picture?"

It's very possible the answer to that question will be "yes."

© Angie K. Millgate 3/21/10

Monday, March 15, 2010

Moments and Memories

Moments and Memories

I was walking down the restaurant's narrow hallway toward the restrooms and was just about to enter the women's facilities when the door swung open, startling me. Filling the open space was a woman who stood about my height, had perfectly coifed bottle-auburn hair and sparkling brown eyes. She was bedecked in head-to-toe matching green, khaki and gold from the floral print shirt to her gold penny loafers. Around her neck were layers of dazzling gold necklaces, some of which swung to her belly, heavy-laden with baubles and pendants and from her ears dangled matching gold earrings.

She was a radiant, stunning vision of precise perfection and I instantly saw my Grandma Faye.

Grandma Faye left this earth almost exactly seven years ago and every year around this time I feel the absence of her with such longing I practically ache with it. I miss the sound of her tick-tock heart and the smell of her - roses. I miss the touch of her tiny hands that were always adorned with beautiful jewels. I miss her laughter and I miss her gentleness.

I stared at this woman in front of me, awash in memories of my Grandma that came rushing at me with such force, I could hardly breathe. I gasped with the sudden onslaught of emotions and the woman looked at me harshly, appearing as startled by my presence as I was by hers. I could feel the tears burning in my eyes and swallowed hard around the huge lump in my throat. She smiled warily.

We were only about six inches from one another and I looked her straight in the eye after taking in her appearance in one sweeping glance. Blinking away the tears in my eyes, I swallowed and said, in a voice that sounded strangely airy, "Oh. Hi. You... uh... startled me. I'm sorry. You just... you just remind me so much of my Grandma that I almost hugged you."

"Poor Grandma," she said as she inched around me, back pressed to the wall, eyes wide.

She dashed off down the hall and, startled by her response, I stepped into the bathroom, shaking off the curious sensation of, "what in the world just happened there???"

I've thought about this experience a lot since it happened several weeks ago. I've wondered what on earth she meant by her odd comeback. I've wondered what she heard me say. I've wondered at my sudden urge to say to her, "Thank you for reminding me of love," but holding back and not saying it. I've wondered what would have happened if I had told her that.

What I've thought about the most, though, is that very visceral experience of my Grandma Faye that was embodied in this stranger. In that brief interlude, she brought to me the body-memory of what it was like to be around a woman whom I've been missing deeply as of late.

I know there are people out there who have caught my eye and with whom I've shared moments of divine beauty because I honored the love that enveloped me in that moment. I've seen people's faces change when I've stepped up and have said, "I want to tell you how beautiful you are," or "I loved hearing your laughter," or "Thank you for your kindness. It meant everything to me today."

At times, people - sometimes complete strangers - have said impulsive things to me like, "You have a beautiful smile," or "What you just said changed my life forever." When this has happened, I've had a moment to pause and realize that all around me are opportunities to connect and to share a beautiful experience. When someone has taken the time to follow their impulses and share with me some kind word or loving feedback, I've been so touched and transformed.

There are times in our lives where people cross our paths and it is our chance to share with them the loving feelings that arose merely from crossing paths with them. It is in the awareness of the beautiful coincidences of crossing paths that the revolutionary moments can happen. Even when I don't realize it's happening, in any moment, I could be changing someone's life for the better by simply being me.

What are you doing with your moments?

© Angie K. Millgate 3/13/10


Bedazzled


Bedazzled by Angie K. Millgate
© Angie K. Millgate 2010 All rights reserved.
To view a full-size version of this piece of art, visit angiemillgate.blogspot.com

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Congruent Heart

The Congruent Heart

"...SWEET-heart." The word was not spoken loudly but with such contempt, I felt sick.

I stepped into the frozen food aisle just as the woman spat the word at her partner. The word "sweetheart" historically means "beloved one." However, her defensive energy and tone contradicted the word's definition. 

I sensed him glancing at me as I stuck my head in the ice cream freezer to look for frozen broccoli. I realized I had interrupted a very private, heated conversation and I wanted to hide.

The man said quietly, "I've already apologized about this. Do we have to do this here?"

She didn't take his hint.

"I told you," she said slightly louder than appropriate, "your way wasn't going to work, SWEET-heart."

Ick. There was that word again and my skin crawled with her defilement. I experienced it as demoralizing and wanted to intercede on the man's behalf. I glanced through the fog collecting on the glass door and noticed he was staring blankly at the frozen pies. He took a deep breath and sighed as I shut the freezer, opting for fresh broccoli. I lowered my eyes, trying to be invisible and to not hear his distress or her anger as I quickly passed.
 
"I'm sorry," he said quietly with a tone indicating he was tired of repeating it. "I don't want to have this conversation here."

 
I cringed and power-walked away from the venomous atmosphere.

Disregarding him, she blazed, "You've made so much work for me now, SWEET-heart."

Even though I'd made it to the end of the row, I instinctively ducked as the barb flew through the air, grateful to be far enough from it that I didn't feel the full impact.  I felt a lingering sadness, though, and was very bothered by the experience.
 
I wandered into the produce section, forgetting why I was there, and stared at the oranges while her profanity echoed in my head. I wondered if she knew how disconcerting it was to have a term of endearment sound like a curse and began questioning myself. Where am I using my words incongruently? Do I use terms of endearment as weapons? Do I disguise my true feelings through incongruent speaking?

I've thought about this experience for days and it has strengthened my commitment to congruently speak with love. It has also brought into sharp focus how I choose to use terms of endearment. 
 
I never did get the broccoli.
 
© Angie K. Millgate 03/06/10
 

The Congruent Heart


The Congruent Heart by Angie K. Millgate
© Angie K. Millgate 2010 All rights reserved.
To view a full-size version of this piece of art, visit angiemillgate.blogspot.com

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Ticket to Ride

A Ticket to Ride
trafficThe road that my daughter and I travel twice daily is generally full of big rigs, many of which are student drivers who are slower than experienced drivers and I become increasingly frustrated when I get stuck behind one of them. There is also a frequently-used train track that we must cross. The trains in this particular area are notoriously slow and long.

train switchingThere is a switch very near the crossing here so often the trains are dropping and picking up cars which looks like a forward and back, forward and back process at a snail's pace across the road. If you get there as a switch is taking place, it can be a good half hour before you get to move again. Because of this, each time I get close enough to the track to see a good distance in both directions, I will scope out the scene and, if there is a train, I'll yell out to the driver in the car in front of me (who, obviously, cannot hear me), "There's a TRAIN! Move!"

big rig trafficThe first time I did it I startled my daughter so badly she screamed by reflex. She looked out the window, rolled her eyes and said in the way only a disgusted teenager can say, "Mo-om! It's not even moving!" Sure enough, my "train" was merely an unmanned engine without any cars, sitting still on the track with the lights on. Now, when either of us realizes that we're seeing something differently than what is real, we will yell, "There's a TRAIN!" even when we're not at the tracks and we get a good laugh.

deserted roadThe other day it was a beautiful day and I was feeling happy and light. My daughter sat beside me, beaming as happily as I and I judged our state of being to be delightfully divine. Our stereo was up full blast and we were singing and "seat dancing" as I maneuvered the traffic. The big rigs seemed to be plentiful and were interrupting my good mood and, in the distance, I could also see a train stopped across the road so I opted to take the back streets. Even though we had left early and I had plenty of time to get us to the school on time, I wanted to keep moving.

The particular street I picked is a fairly unpopulated road with lots of fields. I floored the gas pedal and zoomed along the seemingly deserted road, enjoying the feeling of driving fast in the sunshine while singing loudly. The posted speed limit on the road is only 40 mph my daughter had pointed out the day before when I had behaved just as I was on this day. However, I had forgotten that conversation and just went with what was. I was feeling effulgent happiness moving through me so rapidly, I wanted to match it.

big rigIn my head, I heard a phone ring. Then I heard my voice, "Barb, it's Angie. I'm going to be a little late. I just got pulled over for speeding."

No sooner had that thought ended when I became aware of the white car nestled amongst the tall grass of the fields. Cop! I glanced down at the speedometer and blurted a few nasty words in my head when I discovered I was going over 60mph. Rather than stomp on my brakes in an obvious attempt to reign myself in, I let off the gas and started verbally coaching my car to slow down immediately. I knew I was caught and pulled over almost before the cop had a chance to flip on his lights.

He walked up to the car, smiling and observing the scene within. Something about his demeanor caused me to believe he was surprised to find it was a woman and her daughter.

"Miss," he said and I was grateful he didn't call me ma'am. "I pulled you over because you were speeding."

We both knew I knew why he had pulled me over. I liked that he didn't ask me if I knew why he had. I nodded.

"This is a 40 zone and I clocked you at 52," he said and then grinned. "And that was after you saw me and slowed down."

big truckI laughed. I was so caught, but he was being nice about it.

He asked only for my license and went back to his car. During that time, I had the conversation with Barb that I had heard in my head, giggling at myself the entire time. Two minutes later, he returned with my ticket. "I'm going to cut you a break. I clocked you at 12 over, but I'm writing this for 5 over."

I felt grateful, again, because he didn't have to do that. I was going way over 12 prior to him clocking me. I smiled and said, "Thank you, officer. I was completely oblivious to where I was so I appreciate your generous kindness."

He had caught onto my happiness and rolled with it. "Do you know," he stopped and laughed, "Do you know where you are going now?"

"Yes." I couldn't help laughing. "I do. Now."

"Good," he said, smiling broadly as he handed me the ticket. "Hope your journey there is a safe one. Have a good day."

trainStrangely, I felt so happy, still. And I felt happy that I was holding this feeling in a place where I could melt down, cry, sob, rage and be angry at myself for causing yet another bill that I would have difficulty paying. Instead, I went with what was. Happiness.

I wondered, briefly, how many times I've reacted to a situation out of habit - "acting" mad when I'm mad or whatever. I realized that it is possible to experience every experience through love and happiness if I have a strong commitment to that. It isn't necessary to throw myself upon the floor and gnash and wail because things are going horribly. I can experience the hard times through the softness of love and laughter. And choosing to experience it this way alters the experience thereof into one that is more tolerable. What a powerful concept!

train crossingFeeling the happiness bubbling over in continual giggles, I pulled away from the shoulder. As the cop turned off his lights and did a U-turn to go back to his hiding place, I rounded the corner. A moment later I discovered that the train I had been trying to avoid was now crossing this road and doing the painfully slow forward and back routine.

I could only laugh.

© Angie K. Millgate 2/24/10


Monday, February 22, 2010

To Choose Life


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To Choose Life

parnassusLast week I excitedly ventured into the movie theatre to see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the last movie of Heath Ledger's career that was in production at the time of his death. I've always judged Ledger to be a brilliant actor, as well as the actors that they chose to be his "double" while in the Imaginarium. The movie is a brilliant feast of colors and imagination directed by Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame and is full of metaphoric life-lessons.

imaginarium of doctor parnassusMy intention for attending this movie was to submerge myself in the brilliance that I knew was in there from the first moment I saw the trailer. A dear friend saw it opening weekend and came back with rave reviews so I knew I was golden. Truthfully, it is a movie that requires one to set aside all logic and give over to the possibility of the imagination and soak in the interesting, intriguing images. And, for me, it was a big hit.

imaginarium of doctor parnassusThe premise of the movie is that Doctor Parnassus makes a deal with the devil to become immortal. The movie follows the good doctor's life as the payment for the original bet comes due. Forgetting that it is the devil with whom he gambles, he continues to make bets in the hopes that he will eventually win freedom from the debt.

When a person travels through the "magic mirror" and goes within the imaginarium, the traveler is faced with choices. Each choice they make moves them closer to their liberation or their damnation, depending on the choices at hand. Each choice is deceptively simple but has outrageous consequences. And, as devil-lore is so apt to point out, the devil's options are always most appealing. The movie delves into the eternal battle of good vs. evil for the soul of man.

imaginarium of doctor parnassusAt one point, amongst the brilliant colors and delightfully odd animated scenes within the imaginarium, Doctor Parnassus is trudging across a desert in a blinding wind storm. He's tired. He's thirsty. And he is completely defeated. He falls upon the ground, hands outstretched, fingers frantically clawing at the ground in a pathetic attempt to drag him forward.

"No more choices!" He cries out as the sand whips his face. "No more choices!"

Everything stops. He can no longer go right or left. There is no going forward. The only movement was the howling wind and the sand.

My stomach clenched at this scene and I felt the hair on my arms stand on end. So many times over the last year, I have cried out the same, "No more choices!" I've found myself whipped and beaten and so willing to give up because I was tired of being accountable for the results of my choices. And when I got to that point, everything came to a standstill in my life. There was no movement.

imaginarium of doctor parnassusAs humans in this dual universe, we move forward or backwards, left or right, up or down. Or, we do nothing. If we are to move, a choice must be made. One cannot feasibly go forward and backwards in the exact same instant. If you go up, you cannot go down in the same moment. Every movement we make is a choice - we are either creating through imagination or reacting from past experience. And while it may become tiring to continually choose, it is life.

What will you do with your choice in this moment?

© Angie K. Millgate 2/21/10

Monday, February 15, 2010

Closet Recycling


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Closet Recycling

full closetRecently, I’ve experienced a lot of transitions in my relationships... a lot of “goodbyes.” I’ve experienced friends choosing to no longer be friends and random people saying goodbye, for no apparent reason. As the numbers mounted, I was beginning to wonder if I needed to change my deodorant or something. Eventually, I began to chalk it up to it being a sign of the times... everything is changing and sometimes, to move forward, it requires me saying goodbye to something I thought would be a part of my life for a lot longer than it has been.

Tonight I was talking about my current pattern of frequent “goodbye” with a dear friend who has just recently reentered my life.

She said, “Angie, maybe life is like a closet.”

I laughed right out loud and said, “Say more.”

emptying closetShe went on, “Look. Sometimes closets get really full, like bursting at the seams. And then we see something that we really like but say to ourselves that we can’t buy the new thing because there is no room in the closet. Then something happens. Either we lose weight or gain weight or clothes wear out or we outgrow the style. Whatever, suddenly, there’s room in the closet and there’s space for something new to come in. As I see it, where you are right now in your life is the place where your closet is cleaning itself out for new stuff.”

That analogy made perfect sense to me because, as I look at my life, I’m seeing people step up visibly in my life who have not participated before. New friends are showing up. Friends who were on the periphery of my world are coming closer to the center. And people with whom I have wanted to have closer relationships are showing up saying they want the same with me.

empty closetSo, as my closet empties out, I feel grateful that it is truly making space for new things. It is not as if I have consciously chosen to empty my closet purposely to make way for new, improved relationships. It’s just happening. And the bonus results are that there are new relationships revealing themselves.

Life is a continual cycle and the blessing is in learning to be graceful about that cycle. While goodbye may not always be easy, it really is a door opening to something new.

© Angie K. Millgate 2/14/10

Monday, February 08, 2010

Where is My Focus?


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Where is My Focus?

"What you focus on grows." I imagine you've heard that many times before. It is a theory I thoroughly believe and expand upon in the "explore course" (their title for elective courses) I teach at the Open Classroom entitled Creative Explorations. In this class, I use a combination of movement, meditation and imagination to teach my students about how powerful their minds are.

Fearful focusThe other day, we were talking about how our imagination can run away with us. I asked them if they had ever been scared by a shadow in their bedroom at night, sure that it was a monster, only to discover it was a pile of clothes. They regaled me with tales of moving blobs and glowing eyes and certain life-threatening terror that ended up being explained away when they got out of fear and actually explored to uncover the truth.

I shared with them an experience I had once when I was a small child. One night, I was certain there was someone or something in my closet and it was making the clothes move. The longer I focused on this issue, the more frightened I became. I was convinced that, whatever it was, it was going to hurt me and so I lay still and frozen in my bed, watching the moving clothes. The more I watched the closet, the more my heart raced and the more difficult it became to breathe. My mind started creating all sorts of horrible images about what was going to happen to me if I didn't do something about the creature in my closet.

Clear focusWhen I finally found a modicum of courage, I sprang from my bed only to discover, of course, that there was nothing there. I stood there staring into the darkness of my closet, but found nothing. Then, as I was standing there, up close and personal, I witnessed a reflection of light dance across the clothes. I took a step back further and waited. Indeed, when the cars on the road passed by our house, their lights cast reflections around my room and subtly across my clothes creating the illusion that my clothes were moving.

I can laugh about the experience now, but then the experience was not all that great. After sharing that experience with the kids, I pointed out that the more I focused on the monster in the closet, the bigger it got until I was certain I was facing my own imminent death.

focus growingWhen we spend our energy focusing on anything it will grow. One of the most powerful forces in the universe is the practice of gratitude. Imagine the power you have at your disposal if what you are focusing on is that for which you are grateful!

© Angie K. Millgate 2/7/10

Monday, February 01, 2010

Open Space

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Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying, "You cannot solve a problem at the level it was created."

For years, I've heard my mentor, Megan Sillito, speak about Open Space as being the place where there is creativity and room to find resolutions. Whenever I've heard her speaking about Open Space, I have felt comforted and excited. It has seemed like a space where I wanted to be because it was there that I had access to my creative mind, to options that I may not be able to see when I'm focused on a problem. Finding Open Space removes me from the level wherein my "problem" was originally created so there would be hope for something new to happen.

It wasn't until just the other night, when I sat in session with Megan, that I realized I'm actually terrified of Open Space. My life, with all that has gone on over the last few months, has become Open Space personified. There is such a vast openness before me, I've been overwhelmed. Several times I've said, "I look out in front of me and there is... huge... space. There is so much space that I can't even see a path or a decision or hear a direction. There's just... space."

And, because there was so much space with seemingly no paths to choose from, I've basically stood frozen solid in place, absolutely petrified. I had no idea where to turn. I had no idea where I could step. I had no idea what to do next. There was just... vast. Open. Space. Seemingly, since I'm living in Open Space, one would think I would be rejoicing, but it's truly a daunting experience for me to face so much openness.

So, I sat with that in session with Megan and processed what I was experiencing. I embraced the fact that I feel scared in Open Space and then I realized that, on the other side of that Open Space, I can see me. I can see who I'm becoming. I can see my purpose. I can see me living my life's passion. But, my problem is, there is this vast Open Space between me and that place where I'm living who I know I am.

When I shared that with Megan, she asked me, "Who are you, Angie?"

I had just confidently said, "I know who I am," so you would think that her asking me that question would be no problem. But it was. It startled me. I closed my eyes and went within to put into words what I knew to be true. There were only three words that floated to the surface... "I am Love."

She smiled and said, "Hmmmm... while we were processing your fear around Open Space, I felt inspired to tell you that Open Space is Love."

My eyes grew wide as I felt my paradigms shifting inside with such visceral sensations that I had to just witness it. Then the implications of her statement started coming to the surface. "If I'm afraid of Open Space and... Open Space is Love... and... I am Love... Then... I'm afraid of... myself..."

She waited for me to process that and then she asked, "What does Love do with Fear?"

My first impulse was to say, "Love embraces Fear," but then I stopped. I saw the image of a small, frightened child. When a child is frightened enough and you approach that child to embrace him, it can make the fear worse. But if you hold out your arms and welcome the child into the embrace when he is ready, it makes all the difference.

In that moment, I saw myself holding my arms open to myself and realized that, at any moment, I have the power to add love to what I'm doing. Love is the highest vibration and when any situation is infused with love, it raises the energy and creates space for shifting and healing.

Suddenly, I felt calm and present and full of potential. Within 24 hours of this process, I had received inspiration and clear, concise directions for what my next steps needed to be. Suddenly, the once terrifying, vast openness before me had paths lit with love.

And it was good!

© Angie K. Millgate 1/31/10





Through Open Space

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free


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The Truth Shall Set You Free


Recently, I've had a lot of opportunities to talk with my best friend about "protection" and how, when we choose to "protect" another by withholding our truths from them, it eventually leads to hurt. Hurt of each of the people involved and eventual hurt - or possible demise - of the relationship. My experience has shown me that, without fail, the longer I hold onto my truth the more painful it is when I release it.

My best friend and I would go the rounds because he used to be one who never told the whole truth, but didn't consider it lying because what he did say was truthful. However, I would always say, "You may not be telling lies, but you're lying by omission. You're not telling the whole truth." Omission, or not sharing the whole truth, is still dishonesty in my book. When this would happen, I'd feel really angry and super-charged about it. Something about his dishonesty had a barb that stuck inside me every time it happened. However, I could never put my finger on why I got so bent out of shape.

For a long time, one of my mentors frequently said to me, "Angie, you really need to clean up your withholds." I'd look at her with wide-eyes, feeling clueless as to what she meant and brush it off as 'her thing' because I pride myself in being a very honest person. Whenever I would hear her speak of withholds, I had the same emotional reaction as I would have when I heard my best friend telling only half the story. Thing is, I never put two and two together.

When I speak, I speak the truth. When I act, I act in truth. This last week, however, I discovered that I live in a very private world, which I keep to myself. While I'm kind and outwardly honest, my withholding of my inner life is my form of dishonesty. I had no idea I was withholding my truths and it was quite shocking to discover what I have been creating for my life on an ongoing basis as a result of withholding my truths. My withholding was leading me into arguments and upsets and disagreements galore. I would end up in the middle of one and wonder why/how I had ended up there.

After a particularly painful period of time that was full of one mishap after another, I stopped myself and stared in the mirror and asked, "What are you missing, Angie? What pattern are you repeating that is resulting in this frustration?"

As I stared in the mirror, I realized that my sadness and frustration is coming from the fact that I am living in an inner world of my own creation that no one else knows about, but I expect them to understand me. I've heard it said that human beings have an average of 50,000 - 70,000 thoughts a day and, for me, many of those thoughts were regarding how I felt, what I was experiencing and what I could or could not say about all of that.

In that moment, I chose to make a commitment to reveal and share what is going on for me in each moment. I see now that my commitment last year to be 100% accountable for my every thought, word, action and emotion was the beginning of what I really need to do. I'm aware that I'm scared AND I am fully taking on my commitment from last year which means something totally different now and is on a much deeper level.

I invite you to take inventory of your life. Is there anywhere that you are withholding your truths? It's sometimes tricky to uncover it, especially if you are as practiced at it as I was. Honesty is the best policy, they say and I agree. For me, it is the best policy because it keeps my space clear and I see now that it feeds my aliveness unlike anything else.

© Angie K. Millgate 1/23/09


The Truth Shall Set You Free

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is This Really Play?

Is This Really Play?

hidingThe small group of sixth and seventh grade boys drew my attention as they stalked down the hall. Something about their snickers and covertness alerted me and I began observing them from afar. On the edge of the gaggle, I noticed a young girl, probably about second or third grade. She was walking slowly, cowering with her face turned into the wall and her body pressed so closely to the bricks I was certain she was wishing she could meld into it.

One particular boy was doing everything he could to get into her space. He leaned over and put his face directly into hers, practically nose to nose. He was saying something and laughing tauntingly, while his friends cackled. The more he did it, the more the young girl cringed and tried to hide and the more the boys sniggered. There was no going backward for her because they had penned her in and their leader was in her face so she was clearly unable to break free.

Instantly I remembered what it felt like to be bullied as a child. I also remembered watching other children being bullied and being unable to do anything about it back then, wishing for someone bigger than me to stop the tormenting behaviors. No one ever showed up and my torment - and other children's torment - did not end. Well, I could do something now. I may not be much taller than most of the kids in the middle school, but I am an adult and if I didn't do something, who would? It was obvious that the boys were not thinking clearly about the results of their actions and they continued on, oblivious to anything but their target. They weren't going to stop on their own.

tauntingAs I stepped up my pace, I could feel her terror and I wanted to shield her as soon as I could. From down the hall, I sharply called out the name of the leader, ending the exclamation with no room for questioning as to my intent. The entire group of boys froze in their tracks, not breathing, not moving, not taking another step. The young girl glanced at me quickly, tears in her eyes and ducked around the corner to race up the stairs to safety.

"Sweetie," I called out to her, not knowing her name. "Please come here. He needs to make this situation right."

She was so scared. I could see that all she wanted was to run away now that she was free. She cowered and whispered, "No. No. It's okay."

I understood where she was right then. However, it is never okay for anyone to bully another and I said as much to her and the six boys who were standing before me, fidgeting and wide-eyed because they had been caught. The leader's eyes bugged out of his head when I mentioned the word "bullying" and he started stammering, "I wasn't... wasn't... b-b-bullying her. I wasn't meaning to anyway. We were just playing."

The leader apologized profusely to her and to me and the other boys started chiming in as they backed away.

The little girl nodded and whispered, "It's okay," before dashing up the stairs.

I wanted to cry. I was stunned and sick with the knowing that these boys had no idea that their aggressive "play" is the practice ground for bigger, more dangerous activities. The sadness welled up in me as I thought about the state of our world. This was just one small action but, multiplied over and over, it becomes the way of life and we're seeing the effect of that on our planet right now.

This experience of witnessing terrorizing as "play" has me thinking about how I carry myself and how I treat others. It has opened my eyes to the fact that there are some in this world whose definition of "play" looks starkly different than mine. I also realized that it is all the more important that I go forward with love, spreading it wherever I can.

bring the lightI invite you to look with eyes wide open to what is really going on around you, find the places where you can add love and then... actively be love.

© Angie K. Millgate 1/18/10

Monday, January 11, 2010

World of Imagination

World of Imagination

I am blessed with the honor and privilege of teaching children at my daughter's school. The Open Classroom is a co-operative school where the parents of the students have a commitment to be in the classroom a minimum of three hours a week, teaching. It is one of the coolest concepts I've ever come across and have really enjoyed the time I've spent at the school. This year I have the opportunity to spend about 12 hours a week at the school because I'm co-oping for my daughter, as well as my former husband's children and I'm loving it! It has been the bright spot in my weeks while I've been unemployed and has seemed to set my life into perspective.

This past week in kindergarten, I had the chance to lead all 75 children through a "Movement, Meditation, Art" process that I've done with adults and older children in groups of about 15 people. Never having worked with a group that young or that huge, I had no idea how it was going to go over and was pleasantly surprised by the end of the 90-minute activity and after hearing the feedback from parents, teachers and children.

During the meditation part, I guided them to their very own meadow and let them create it as they wanted it to be. In this meadow, I guided them to create plants and animals and creatures. I gave them permission to do whatever they wanted to in this meadow because it was their space and they were completely safe. I gave them time to create there and explore and play, then we brought in a "being" - whether it was a person real or imagined, a creature or an animal, it was their choice - who would bring them a box that contained a gift. They had full licensure to create the box however they wanted it to be and it was up to them what the gift would be.

What delighted me the most was hearing the children share of their experiences with the whole group after the meditation section and before they created their art pieces. These children, so full of curiosity and colorful imaginings, shared stories of enchanting images and object lessons that took my breath away. One of the children said, "My person was my father and he gave me a box with nothing in it, but what I learned was how happy he was to give me the gift and I understood that, sometimes, it's better to give than receive." Another child said, "I received two gifts. One gift was only for me, only I could know about it and it's a secret. The other one they gave me so I could share it with everyone." Another child shared, "I could fly and I had a pet dragon that healed things."

I was breathless with all the stories the children shared with us that day and any that they shared one on one with just me. I was touched by how open and willing they all were and how expansive their journeys were. I was also moved by the vibrancy of their imaginings and their messages. It gave me pause to think about how powerful our children are and how much they know that we adults may not ever understand. I felt grateful for the experience of guarding and guiding these miraculous beings and learned so much from them.

The brain does not know the difference between imagined and real. Given that, I'd like to live in the worlds these children create.

© Angie K. Millgate 01/10/10

Dreaming of Dragons

Monday, January 04, 2010

Dream Big!

Dream Big!

resolutionIn the past, with some ritual on each New Year's Eve, I would create a list of ten or so resolutions for the year. By about noon of January 2, I had ix-nayed most - if not all - of the items on the original list and then I would end up flogging myself for my failure. Year after year, I did this process until I realized that, each year, the list was the same. Although I would make the resolutions less elaborate and seemingly more do-able, it was in essence the same list. Eventually, I got to thinking, if my resolution list is the same every year, am I ever going to keep any of them?

This life can be fast-paced and difficult enough without me knowingly doing anything that will eventually open up ground for self-sabotage. With all that I do on a daily basis to keep my life moving forward, it seems defeating to create a list of more things to do. So I don't do it anymore, mostly because I've learned that one of the tenets of a healthy life is upholding the commitments and agreements that I make. However, knowing which agreements I will keep is the key. The ability to discern if it is a "yes" or a "no" at the time of the agreement is of utmost importance.

Frequently, we tend to make agreements for reasons other than being actually interested in the agreement. The reasons are wide and varied, looking like some of these responses...
I'm SUPPOSED to do this.
She helped me when I was sick, so I should do it for her now.
I have a truck, so I should help them move.
Everyone else is able to support them, I should be able to also.
If I don't do this, what will everyone think of me?


Agreements and commitments made in this vein of thinking are a recipe for disaster and add to the consternation of everyday life. The easiest way to turn around your agreement-making process is to ask yourself one question when making a commitment: Do I WANT to do this? If it's anything but a solid "yes," look for what you are willing to commit to.

So, when it came to my yearend ritual this year, I asked myself what I desired, what commitment was I willing to uphold. Do I even want to do a ritual? Do I want to create a list for 2010? What do I WANT to do? And the result was, this year my yearend ritual was different. I chose to release any remaining strings that I was holding onto from 2009. I released myself from anything I had agreed to complete this year that I did not, rather than drag them into the New Year. I looked at any remaining commitments to discern if they were still applicable, if I still wanted to uphold them or if I needed to renegotiate out of the terms. And, most importantly, I chose to release any anger I was holding onto and release anyone I may have been strangling in my anger.

What I felt happen was I created space so that I could step forward into this year with a clean slate. In that, I provided openness for my dreams to flourish. That clearing gave me the room needed to dream big, dream often and call on the power of dreaming. I'm excited about this because dreaming is limitless. Unlike a list of resolutions and goals, things that I have to do and accomplish by a certain time, dreaming is fluid and there are no rules in the dreaming, no limits, no "have to do's" and no deadline.

opennessWhile some may say that dreaming is dangerous, I say DREAM MORE! It has been scientifically proven that the brain does not know the difference between imagination and reality and it will build upon whatever is present to create "reality." So, if that's the case, why not dream big, luscious dreams that inspire greatness?

That is my only resolution this year: to dream big, vivid dreams full of sensory information as often as I possibly can. My belief is this will be the best year of my life!

© Angie K. Millgate 1/03/10

ps... for more about dreaming big, follow the links below.

Dream Big (lyrics)

When you cry be sure to dry your eyes
'Cause better days are sure to come
And when you smile be sure to smile wide
Don't let them know that they have won
And when you walk, walk with pride
Don't show the hurt inside
Because the pain will soon be gone


And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
'Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big


When you laugh be sure to laugh out loud
'Cause it will carry all your cares away
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself
And it'll help you feel okay
And when you pray, pray for strength
To help you carry on
When the troubles come your way


And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
'Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big


When you laugh be sure to laugh out loud
'Cause it will carry all your cares away
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself
And it'll help you feel okay
And when you pray, pray for strength
To help you carry on
When the troubles come your way


And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
'Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

At the Close of the Year

At the Close of the Year


Never in my life have I been more grateful to see a year come to a close. Generally, I face the end of each year with gratitude and a little bit of wistfulness and although there is gratitude this yearend, the gratitude comes from a much different angle than it generally does. This year the gratitude stems from the fact that 2009 is over because this year developed into one of the biggest years of painful lessons and growth and ended up being nothing that I could have ever imagined.

In numerology, the number "9" represents completion and I do believe that this year fully lived up to the definition of completion. Things in my life completed in ways that I wouldn't have believed if I hadn't actually experienced it and, as I look back on what has been, I praise all that is holy that I made it through this year ALIVE.

As the year draws to a close, one thing has become very clear to me, clearer than it has ever been before: Family is of the utmost importance. Family isn't only the people with whom you share DNA or the people with whom you were raised. Family is more than that. Family is the people with whom you come to life and it may not even be the people with whom you share blood. It could be the people with whom you choose to surround yourself.

family


While I was in massage school, one of my instructors referred to the importance of touch based on the results of some studies of London orphanages in the early 1900's. Although each child's every physical need was met, the mortality rate was astronomical. Specific controlled studies showed that when a number of infants were placed in a group that was assigned care-givers who were allowed to hold, touch and cuddle the babies those babies thrived and lived. The only change in those babies' worlds was the fact that they were privy to human touch, while their peers who died did not have that gift. While my research to find the actual documentation of these studies was fruitless, I have a sound belief in the power of human connection expressed in this story.

If you have ever been sad and have had someone say nothing, but simply offer to hold you or give you "a shoulder to cry on" then I imagine you have understood - if only for that moment - the power of another human's presence in your life. Human beings are generally designed to congregate. Way back to the "cave man days" we learned that there is perceived safety in numbers and, if we work well together, we can accomplish a lot more than if we were to work alone. Additionally, it's a lot more fun to do a project together.

The yearend holiday season tends to be filled with get-togethers, parties and reunions. While this year for me has been dramatically different than any other year in my history, I am grateful these 12 months have provided many opportunities to be with my family - biological and chosen. I've had plenty of chances to get really clear about how much people mean to me, what they mean to my life and, sadly, what it means when they are gone. I've had chances to get clear about with whom I want to continue to grow my relationships and, with others, that it is time to say a definitive goodbye.

So, as this year draws to an end, I'm counting myself greatly blessed and recognizing the power of human connection. I'm relishing in the feeling of coming to life around my biological family - people who know me and hold my history in their memories - and that feeling of joy in being around them. I'm also cherishing the few loved ones with whom I do not share DNA that have brought such meaning to my life and who are being witness to my unfolding.

In closing, I invite you to take a moment to ponder your life and focus on the individuals who bring richness to your world. Then, take the time to let them know they've made a difference.

© Angie K. Millgate 12/28/09

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tis the Season

Tis the Season


presentsAs we roll into the Christmas season that has evolved into the “The Season of Giving Lots of Sparkly-Wrapped Boxes of Store-Bought Joy,” I’ve chosen to focus on the spirit of the season. I’ve intended to hold gratitude, love and peace in my heart throughout the season and I’m feeling happy about what I’m experiencing. Now, I’d love to say that I’ve been a pro at keeping my intention as my sole focus. However, I have slipped a few times and have slumped into the dreary whining experience of I don’t have any money so how can I make this all work?!!!

While I was in massage school several years ago, one of my instructors taught us the 5-to-1 Theory. He stated that for relationships to be healthy, it is imperative that the ratio of positive-to-negative comments or actions needs to be 5-to-1, five appreciations or gratitudes for every “bad”statement. I’ve been remembering that class this year and have chosen to use that theory when I find myself drooping with bleakness.

In the spirit of that, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve realized for which I’m grateful...

I am grateful for my life, for BEING alive.
I am grateful for my daughter, for watching the miracle of her each day and being blessed with the honor of raising her to be an amazing woman.
I am grateful for her daddy, for learning through his experiences and for understanding how important my choices are and that the consequences eventually DO come.
I am grateful for my creative, artistic mind.
I am grateful for my father and his wife, for their generous sharing of their home so that my daughter and I are warm, safe and fed.
I am grateful for my family and friends, the lessons I learn and the inspiration I discover through them.
angelI am grateful for a warm bed to sleep in.
I am grateful for unemployment insurance benefits.
I am grateful for learning what I’ve learned this year, for finally realizing what I know.
I am grateful for love, in all its forms.
I am grateful for Clementines and how deliciously delightful those tiny treats are.
I am grateful for my fully-working senses, that I can see, hear, smell and taste the delights of this season.
I am grateful for the gift of laughter.

Gratitude is expansive and generative. I invite you to focus with gratitude on the simple things of your life and may you find your holiday season to be fully blessed.

© Angie K. Millgate 12/20/09

Monday, December 07, 2009

That Which May Not Be


That Which May Not Be

this is loveAs I've mentioned recently, I am working with a really juicy commitment to my aliveness...

I commit to BEING fully alive, living in my love and doing whatever it takes to clear anything that is blocking me.

This commitment has had me looking around experiences that capture what I believe love looks and feels like. It has also brought to the surface thought patterns I never realized I had, as well as elements of a judgmental attitude I am ashamed to have discovered. These thoughts and patterns are what is keeping me from fully being alive and in love. Consciously I am generous with my love for humanity. Consciously I give the people around me lots of latitude and I'm willing to hold space for the possibility that what I am seeing with my primary vision is not the whole story.

go awayHowever, underneath that... in the subconscious/unconscious areas of my mind... there are insidious thought patterns that were created, at one point, as a defense mechanism to keep me alive and safe. I'm grateful for these programs for that very reason - they got me here - AND it's time to recognize them, disassemble them and put in their place programs that are truly supportive and embrace who I am at the core, rather than guarding it with hyper-vigilance.

One of the places that these programs are rearing their heads is at the local jail. One of my loved ones has made some unwise decisions that have landed him behind bars for an indeterminate amount of time. It is a long, tedious process to see a prisoner and many of the visitors are quite irritable about it. About a month ago, the jail "upgraded" their computer system which has all but brought the laborious protocol to a halt and has resulted in ever-growing lines and frustrated visitors as we move from one long line to the next to yet another.
 
spaceIn these lines, I've experienced lots of snappy comments around me and at me - people complaining about the wait, people complaining about how slow everything has gotten, people complaining about the people they're coming to visit. In general, it's not the shiny-happiest place to be. Sadly, the experience of being a visitor at a jail is really about this is my space and that is yours and our spaces don't EVER need to come into contact. It is, in fact, seemingly the furthest possible example what the essence of my commitment looks like.

In this space, I focus on finding my love and really grow it to envelope myself and my daughter. The other night was exceptionally tense in the lobby and as I sauntered along from one line to the next, I passed a woman who I had never seen before. She stared me down aggressively with what I judged to be total loathing. I stared back and smiled timidly. Her face did not change and I hustled to join my daughter who was marking our space in the third line.

I whispered to my daughter, "That woman in the striped shirt is really rude. She's ticked off about something, so stay clear."

Nothing in my life could have prepared me for this ongoing experiment in human interactions and that night, I felt scared. We shuffled slowly through the third line, through the security scanners and into the "holding tank" where a guard comes in, does roll call and announces our individual visitation cells. My daughter and I sat as far away as possible from the woman in the striped shirt.

At the end of the process, they guard always asks if everyone has been called. The woman in the striped shirt stood up and I felt myself attempt to slide into the wall. Then she pointed to her ears and in the awkward language of the deaf, she drug out of her mouth the words, "I'm deaf. Please show me."

comfortI wanted to cry in that moment. If I was having this intense of an experience with all of my senses working overtime and on high alert, I couldn't imagine how intense it would be if I was unable to hear what was happening. I had so harshly judged the woman in the striped shirt, based on how I perceived her to be reacting to me. For all I know, she hadn't even been looking at me but had been, rather, staring into space feeling frightened and unsure when I happened to walk through her line of vision.

I share this because it is a lesson that comes to me at times to remind me that I can never know what is happening for the other person whom I am judging. I know that it is human nature to judge - it's instinct and what has kept our species alive for thousands of years. However, it also can become the wedge that keeps us separated from one another.

I commit to remembering that I am human - as are you, as was that woman in the striped shirt - and in our humanness, there is messiness. Angie - and anyone else reading this - I invite you to breathe deeply when you find yourself judging another and remember that sometimes things aren't what they seem.

© Angie K. Millgate 12/6/09

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rooting and Uprooting

Rooting and Uprooting

winterWinter has settled in where I live and the ground is still covered with a blanket of snow in some spots. In the spots where the sun has kissed the earth, dormant plants and grass peek up with none of their lively splendor. They are sleeping now and, in the places where there are bulbs, there are a few plant tags to mark the springtime emergence of color. As I look around, seeing the hint of life burgeoning in the ground, I am reminded of a conversation I recently had with my friend, Jen Halterman.

One day, Jen and I were in the middle of an "issue" and she said, "Angie, have you sourced this?"

My brain knows the meaning of source: the beginning, where it all starts. So, when anybody asks me to "source", I do just that - go back to the beginning. When I get to where "it" all began, I acknowledge it, saying, so THAT is where this all started. Hmmm. Then I sit there for a bit, reviewing the memories and then I say, Okay. Sooooo... this is where it started. It's in the past. It is what was. Now what???

winterI don't experience animosity or anger or blame. Instead, I experience acceptance of what happened then and can see how it presently plays out in my life. And, because it was in the past, I believed I couldn't change it. It had happened and that was a fact and I wouldn't know what else to do, so I just accepted it and went forward having no idea what I was supposed to do about the source. I've done this for almost a decade, this 'sourcing the issue.' The result of this is that I've now got hundreds of open sources and no resolve. No wonder I'm tired!

So when she asked me that, I felt indignant and snappy. "Of course I have, Jen! Of course I've sourced it. Of course I've discovered the beginning. I know these skills! I always 'source' whatever comes up from me. So what. I've. Sourced. It."

There was a lengthy pause from her end and she tentatively said, "You found the beginning and then what did you do?"

"What do you mean, 'and then what'??? There is no 'and then what'! I found the beginning and recognized it and accepted it. That's what 'sourcing' is."

Her silence told me there was something I was missing. She waited and waited and so did I. In frustration, I said, "Jen, tell me what I'm missing. What does 'sourcing' mean to you? Why is 'sourcing' beneficial? All it does is open up the beginning and leave me with more crap to carry."

winterShe said, "Well, I see 'sourcing' as going to the root of the pattern, seeing if it's something I want to hold onto or if it's something I want to release and, if it is, then choose something new going forward."

She said one sentence, the word "root" catching my attention and suddenly I was in the middle of a huge paradigm shift. After all these years, I realized that 'sourcing' was not merely going back to the beginning. More importantly, it was recognizing the beginning of the pattern and then releasing it so that I can decide what I want to do from that point forward. Granted, I cannot change what was, but I can decide to create a new pattern after I recognize the old, destructive one.

In every garden there are beneficial plants and there are also weeds. To have a productive garden, it's important to know the difference and keep the plot clear of the weeds. If you've ever worked with a garden or flower bed, then you are familiar with the fact that many specimens of weeds have root systems that are seemingly unstoppable and to get the plant completely out of the ground, it takes some doing. With patience, diligence and some strength, I have the power to uproot the weed - no matter how menacing its root system is - and replace it with the seeds of a more beneficial plant.

winter roadThe same goes for an insidious, destructive pattern. When I find the root of my pattern, I can uproot it and replace it with a more supportive belief structure. I have the power to create a beautiful life and I feel grateful to have discovered that the weeds in my garden can be removed, if I so choose.

How does your garden look?

© Angie K. Millgate 11/29/09

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