Trust the Process

Spring Unfolding

Spring Unfolding

In a society focused on results and end products, it is easy to forget that you can’t create without going through a process of creation. You may say you have a certain goal or end result in mind, but often the actual work may take you in another direction. And many times a seemingly messy detour becomes the path to something unexpected and wonderful.

Sometimes the process includes unexpected time out. That time out may be a business setback that plunges you into deep waters as you work to survive and pay your bills. A layoff or hiring freeze means that the bright career plans are put on hold. The collapse of the music industry or tremendous changes in the book industry can mean that even successful writers and performers find themselves without a livelihood, having to reinvent not only their careers, but who they are and how to offer their gifts in a chaotic marketplace. Sometimes it’s a family emergency, and you may find yourself in the role of caretaker, putting your own life on hold while you walk with a loved one through the valley of the shadow of death. It might be a mistake you or someone else made, a change in market conditions, an unexpected emergency or health crisis. It could even be as simple as a creative project that didn’t come out the way you hoped, leaving you wondering whether you should try to salvage it or start all over again. 

Take it one day at a time. Instead of trying to second guess the future, look at what you have right now. What can be accomplished today? Concentrate only on what you are able to do today. Do what you can and let go of trying to control the outcome. All you can do is do your best and leave the rest up to God. In most of the important things in life, we are dependent on the nature of creation and time, the grace of the Life Force flowing in us and carrying us through the events and processes of living.

In the larger perspective of life, eternal lessons teach us that trust and patience are required for the things that are really important. It takes time to raise a child, write a book, nurture a relationship, grow a career, and create a community. Think of a farmer patiently waiting for seed, soil, sun, and rain to do its work. The field must be plowed, the seed sown, the land fertilized and watered, the soil weeded, and the crop tended before it comes to full fruition. So it is with us. 

Trusting the process is a form of letting go. You can try to predict and control life, but life is larger and more gloriously complex than the calculating planning part of the human brain can comprehend. When some plan or project is on hold, trust that it, too, is part of the process. It has been said that we make our plans—and God laughs. So why not laugh along? Or at least stop resisting and open your mind to receive new insights. 

Trust that the goodness of life itself will lead you if you keep going. Trust the process of its unfolding. When a butterfly is working its way out of its cocoon, it is no kindness to cut the cocoon to make emergence easier. The struggle itself is an essential part of the process. When a human hand interferes with the process, the butterfly’s wings are undeveloped. It cannot fly. It dies. When the butterfly’s struggle is done in nature’s time, the emergence may last longer than our impatient hearts can stand. But when the butterfly finally emerges from this birthwork, it spreads its wings to dry, and then flies into its destiny. When you are stressed because your own process seems to be one of struggle and delay, remember the butterfly. Trust that a greater process is happening; that all this is working together for your good and your growth. 

Whether you are creating a work of art or a life, trust the process. Let go of your expectations and let what you are doing lead you from one step to another. Do your best and leave the results to God.


Trust God from the bottom of your heart. Don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go.
Proverbs 3:5-6 THE MESSAGE

By going a few minutes sooner or later, by stopping to speak with a friend on the corner, by meeting this man or that, or by turning down this street instead of the other, we may let slip some impending evil, by which the whole current of our lives would have been changed. There is no possible solution in the dark enigma but the one word, “Providence.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sometimes providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backward.
John Flavel

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. 
Eleanor Roosevelt

• Do a creative project, such as building model airplanes or knitting, and watch the process unfold. Meditate on the processes unfolding in your life.

Life on the farm is a school of patience; you can’t hurry the crops or make an ox in two days.
Henri Fournier Alain

I find that it is not the circumstances in which we are placed, but the spirit in which we face them, that constitutes our comfort.
Elizabeth T. King

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.
Chaung Tzu

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they might have been.
William Hazlitt

The greatest and most important problems in life are all in a certain sense insoluble. They can never be solved, but only outgrown.
Carl Jung

The chief pang of most trials is not so much the actual suffering itself as our own spirit of resistance to it.
Jean Nicholas Grau

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work.
Peter Marshall

Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

On every level of life from housework to the heights of prayer, in all judgment and all efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are the sure marks of an amateur.
Evelyn Underhill

Listening for Guidance

If we have listening ears, God speaks to us in our own language, whatever that language is.
—Mahatma Gandhi

When things start getting crazy, I’m learning to slow down and listen. When I don’t know what to do next, I take time for meditation and stillness in the presence of God. Instead of getting caught up in the chaos of the world, I withdraw to ask for guidance and help. I attune myself to a deeper wisdom that is in harmony with eternal values. 

It is our nature to harmonize with the natural rhythms of the universe, yet we have for the most part forgotten how to do this. In a world in crisis, it is vitally important to regain this lost art, and to attune our lives to the silent pulse that lies beneath all forms and manifestations. 

In his classic book on mindfulness meditation, Wherever You Go, There You Are, John Kabat-Zinn says that meditation “is a door into the timeless, it operates beyond time, underneath time, inside of time, and so allows for transformation without having to strive to get anywhere else, or beat oneself up along the way for being inadequate, or imperfect.” 

You do not have to twist yourself into a pretzel for hours on end or become an enlightened expert on exotic forms of mantras and mental tricks to find the benefits of meditation in your own life. A simple and ongoing commitment to fifteen to twenty minutes, or even five or ten when pressed for time, can be a gentle tool for transformation. As you learn to still your mind and body, you ease yourself out of time-bound restrictions and reactions into the peace and beauty of the eternal here and now.

By withdrawing from the world to listen to the still small voice of God, we learn to love God more deeply so that we can know ourselves more authentically and serve humanity more fully. It is a journey to the Source of love so that we may be that love in the world we inhabit.

We also practice the art of listening presence when we choose to
• listen with all our senses
• open our minds to larger ideas as we release old assumptions
• release that which no longer serves us and embrace our potential for wholeness 
• ask the questions that open us to new patterns that bring life and vitality
• enter into who we are already in the eyes of God
• live our lives with integrity and coherence 
• offer our unique gifts in service to the world

It’s an artful way to approach daily life as well. We ourselves hold the possibility of becoming art—of capturing the genesis moment of creation in the eternal here and forever now of our own lives. This requires an educated eye, a listening ear, a feeling heart, and a spirit attuned to the unfolding wonder of life itself. 

We must teach ourselves to be present and aware, or we will miss moments of glory and rapture. We must be able to listen with all our senses, set the distractions aside, and focus our awareness on what is happening within us and around us. 

As we train our hearts and minds, and awaken our senses, we discover that every moment is a Genesis moment, holding the potential for us to co-create with God. Then we can say, “Let there be…” and we can love our own small everyday world into fullness of being. 


Quotes

I know artists whose medium is life itself and who express the inexpressible without brush, pencil, chisel, or guitar. They neither paint nor dance. Their medium is Being. Whatever their hand touches has increased life… They are the artists of being alive. 
—Frederick Franck

The Secret Path is not alone a path of mind; it may, and should, easily become the forerunner of a path of outer achievement, the more dynamic because it is the more inspired. Its object is not to withdraw men into monastic idleness but to help them work more wisely and more effectively in their own spheres of usefulness. 
—Paul Brunton

Every profound innovation is based on an inward-bound journey, on going to a deeper place where knowing comes to the surface. 
—W. Brian Arthur

I know what the answer is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world. 
—Henry Miller

I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
— Joseph Campbell

If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
—The Gospel of Thomas

Become aware of what is in you.
Announce it, pronounce it, produce it, and give birth to it.
— Meister Eckhart

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
—from the Lord’s Prayer

Your name, your sound can move us
if we tune our hearts as instruments for its tone.
Create in me a divine cooperation—
from the many selves, one voice,
one action.
—Neil Douglas Klotz (from an Aramaic translation of the Lord’s Prayer)

I want to know the mind of God. 
The rest is all details
— Albert Einstein


Affirmative prayer

Speak, Lord, for I am listening…
I enter blessed stillness and openness, so native to my soul. 
I find rest after all of the noise and distraction. 
I enter into the Presence.
I am listening…
And as I quiet mind and body, I hear a still small voice.
It whispers the truth I need to hear today,
A loving message from the heart of God to my human heart. 

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

Artist Emily Steinberg Cash at Watermelon Moon Farm sent me a reminder that their Autumn Harvest and Celebration Home Tour happens this weekend, September 11 and 12. It launches the fall festivities: luncheons, classes, crafts, cooking, and a memorable time at the historic Watermelon Moon Farm Bed and Breakfast just outside of Lebanon, Tennessee. Emily and Harold have remodeled and refreshed the shop after the fire this summer, and they are open for business from now through Christmas. Enjoy old-fashioned hospitality at this historic homestead. And if you miss the fall open house, look for the dates for the holiday open house in mid-November. I did a book signing there last year and loved every minute of it (especially the guinea hens!)

Check out their website for more events. 

http://www.watermelonmoonfarm.com/
10575 Trousdale Ferry Lebanon,TN 37090
Phone – 615.444.2356
e-mail – wmmoonfarm@yahoo.com


More inspiration for artful living: 

Sister Joan Chittister says: 

If, indeed, truth is beauty and beauty truth, then the monastic and the artist are one.

Monasticism, in fact, cultivates the artistic spirit. Basic to monasticism are the very qualities art demands of the artist: silence, contemplation, discernment of spirits, community and humility.

Basic to art are the very qualities demanded of the monastic: single-mindedness, beauty, immersion, praise and creativity. The merger of one with the other makes for great art; the meaning of one for the other makes for great soul.


Read the entire post at Huffington Post, August 23, 2010
The Artist and Monk Are One
From "The Monastic Spirit and the Pursuit of Everlasting Beauty," which appeared in The Journey and the Gift: The Ceramic Art of Brother Thomas.

Dare to Live

Compared to what we ought to be, we are half awake.
— William James

I have been formatting The Art of Encouragement into an e-book for publication on Smashwords (soon to be available). I wrote the book in 2002, but it still speaks to me today. In fact, I’m still working on applying the wisdom from its pages. When I write, I write more wisely than I know at the time I’m writing. As I look back on my work, I see that there was a sure thread of insight weaving through my work that anticipated my own spiritual growth. 

I also remember that when I was writing The Art of Encouragement, I was struggling with the limitations of dogma and doctrine, trying to find my way through the labyrinth of questions and changes and challenges to old belief systems. Funny, I think we are all going through this collectively now. The world I knew then is not the world I know now. The rules I was trying so hard to follow back then are now broken, discarded, or have morphed into something less legalistic and more about living from the heart. 

Struggling with my own doubts and fears, wrestling with the realities of another era, I am reminded again to stay true to my own vision, and to be kind and forgiving to others, knowing that we are all in the process of evolving to higher levels of consciousness and more expansive ideas of what the world is meant to be. 

This excerpt from The Art of Encouragement spoke to my heart today:

Adventure can be an end in itself. Self-discovery is the secret ingredient that fuels daring.
— Grace Lichtenstein

Do not close yourself off from life because of fear. Do not build walls of expectations or dictate terms for who, what, how, and when the Universe will deliver. Expect miracles and see miracles, even in the simple, mundane round of life. Love each moment as it comes. Embrace it fully. Immerse yourself in this moment, this reality. Be aware. Be yourself. Be brave and dare to live from the very center of your being. 


When you have a choice between following your heart or following your head, always listen to your heart first. Know that you are not alone. The still, small voice speaks when you are willing to listen. You are surrounded by the love of the Universe; you are guided by God; you are ministered to by His angels, watched over by saints and ancestors. Embrace your life today. Live in the music and dance to the rhythm of love. Dare to live with your whole heart, every single day of your life.

Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music in them.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

When one does not love too much, one does not love enough.
— Blaise Pascal

Dare to be naïve.
— R. Buckminster Fuller

The only real security is not insurance or money or a job, not a house and furniture paid for, or a retirement fund, and never is it another person. It is the skill and humor and courage within, the ability to build your own fires and find your own peace.
— Audrey Sutherland

People generally think that it is the world, the environment, external relationships, which stand in one’s way, in the way of one’s good fortune. . . . and at the bottom is always man himself that stands in his own way.
— Søren Kierkegaard

There is no going alone on a journey. Whether one explores strange lands or Main Street or one’s own backyard, always invisible traveling companions are close by: the giants and pygmies of memory, of belief, pulling you this way and that, not letting you see the world life-size but insisting that you measure it by their own height and weight.
— Lillian Smith

Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.
— Sarah Bernhardt

You are not living by human laws but by divine laws. Expect miracles and see them take place. Hold ever before you the thought of prosperity and abundance, and know that doing so sets in motion forces that will bring it into being.
— Eileen Caddy

Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win.
— Bernadette Devlin

No one has ever seen God. Yet if we love one another God dwells in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
I John 4:12 (NAB)

It is not who you are or what you have been that God sees with His all-merciful eyes, but what you desire to be.
— The Cloud of Unknowing (c. 1375)

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
— Romans 15:13 (The Message)


Affirmative prayer

O God, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass understanding: Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee in all things and above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire.
— The Book of Common Prayer

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

I met a wonderful musician a few months ago. He performed a stirring anthem, We Are One, and had us all singing along. Kevin Reid inspires people with his joyful enthusiasm, all-embracing love, and playful humor. As a songwriter and music producer, his songs reflect his experiential awareness of the deeper levels of being and becoming, while encouraging individual, national and global transformation to greater unity, love and understanding.

The recording We Are One took nearly two years to complete The production involved 90 coast-to-coast recording sessions to include the voices and talents of a diverse group of over 200 professional artists and everyday people. It’s a global gift of love. 

Go to http://www.aworldanthem.org/index.html to hear the song and read the story behind its creation. 
 

The Courage to Thrive

Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers. 
Leigh Hunt

I have been handling a lot of frustration, desperation, and depression this summer.Struggling to keep afloat, I experienced a leak in my boat. And I’ve been drowning in the negativity and fear that we all feel like a miasma around us, fed by the media and by economic woes. And I have been tempted to give in to the most frightening thoughts, the most troubling images. I doing things that I never thought I would have to do, facing losses that are hard to bear. 

But I refuse to be defined by my failures, my losses, and my fears. I am choosing to move beyond limited definitions of who I am and what I am capable of being. 

In the process of seeking answers to my own dilemmas, I have met some amazing people and found some helpful resources that tell me we can do more than just survive in hard times. We can learn how to thrive.

I am reading an inspiring book by Paul Pearsall. It’s called The Beethoven Factor: The New Positive Psychology of Hardiness, Happiness, Healing, and Hope. Pearsall’s own story of surviving cancer is inspiring, and he introduces you to the people he calls thrivers, individuals who face life’s unavoidable challenges head-on and grow stronger and more vital as a result. He offers a course in “thrivology” that teaches you to tap into your God-given powers to transform troubles into triumphs. Beethoven wrote his best-loved symphonies despite deafness. And we can write a more meaningful story for our lives even in the face of loss and difficult times. 

This is not just about positive thinking. It’s about being willing to live fully, even in the face of death. It’s about being willing to risk, even if you have no guarantees of winning. And it’s about choosing to love life, give it meaning, and adapt to the changing circumstances of life with grace and courage.

If you are in the midst of a crisis, I know that words often slide off the surface of your mind, making no impact. You have to give yourself grace and time. But when you are ready, the right phrase, a new idea, or something that lets you know you are not alone in your struggles, can reach the heart. I’m writing not because I have the answers, but because I have found some comfort and inspiration to help me make a choice for life, and to choose to thrive instead of merely surviving. 

The Daily Coyote, a book (and website) by Shreve Stockton, tells the story of a young woman raising a coyote in the wilds of Wyoming. One of the most inspiring ideas I gleaned from her relationship with Charlie, the coyote, is about becoming an “energetic alpha.” Shreve says, 
“By energetic alpha I mean a solid, unwavering conviction in oneself. On that cannot be broken by intimidation from outside sources.… Energetic alpha is a combination of confidence and grace, and this translates seamlessly to every area of life—personal and business relationships, even our attitudes regarding work and personal trials—and the manner in which we move through life.” 

Paul Pearsall writes: “Thriving is defined as reconstructing life’s meaning in response to life’s most destructive occurrences. It is not only rising to the occasion, but being raised by it. Thriving is a renewal of faith, energy, trust, hope, and connection just when doubt, cynicism, fear, fatigue, and alienation seem at their worst. It’s not just bounding back, but up and beyond. It is the emergence of a new creative spirit through and because of the darkest times, a spirit that can guide us to the Beethoven Factor so we too can creatively conduct our daily life as an ode to joy.”

Are you willing to consider the possibility that there is more to you than meets the eye? Are you willing to come with me on a quest for a more meaningful and vibrant response to the challenges life presents? I can’t guarantee that we’ll get out of this unscathed, but I do guarantee that we can find grace and a new kind of wholeness and sanity if we will face our fears and failings with courage, and move deeper into the heart of God for our strength and comfort. This is my quest. I hope you’ll join me. 

Here are a few more quotes that I hope will inspire you if you are facing a crisis or challenge in life:

The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns.
I Ching, The Book of Changes

All suffering prepares the soul for vision.
Martin Buber

The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns not longer fit; the time for a passing of a threshold is at hand. 
Joseph Campbell

To a poor sailor the winds are always against you.
proverb

The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need to do is set our sails.
Ramakrishna

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
William Shakespeare

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves—regret for the past and fear of the future.
Fulton Oursler

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.
Pablo Picasso

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ 
Eleanor Roosevelt

Things seem to turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.
Art Linkletter

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
Oscar Wilde

Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the conquest of it.
William Danforth


Affirmative prayer

My mother recites this prayer and I, too, am finding great comfort in it.

The light of God surrounds me,
The love of God enfolds me,
The power of God protects me,
The Presence of God watches over me,
Wherever I am, God is.
--prayer card/author unknown 

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

Just for fun

Remember the old Exxon slogan, “Put a tiger in your tank?” Chris Guillebeau offers a new take on that with his blog entry Visit to Tiger Kingdom. The photos do not lie—he’s cuddling up to a very big tiger. “What’s new, pussycat?”

http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/visit-to-tiger-kingdom/

Get serious about play:

With all the dire headlines and my blog about finding meaning in trials and difficulties, it’s easy to forget that one of the best things you can do is play. If you want to be fully alive, play with others. Interplay groups offer one of the most wonderful ways to play meaningfully. I took the Interplay Leadership course and will be forever grateful to Diana Morningstar Ault for introducing me to the joys of Interplaying. I give you the national website and our Tennessee site. Come have fun and heal your heart!

http://www.interplay.org/
http://www.interplaytn.org/


Action Whey

I don’t normally endorse products. However, I have enjoyed so much success using this whey drink that I have become a distributor. I'd love to have you check it out and see if it would work for you, too. I’m offering my personal experience with the product and if you are not interested in a commercial, just skip this part of my blog. 

I have been drinking ActionWhey since late June, and I'm so grateful for the extra energy it gives me. I'm eating less (so I'm saving money on groceries!), feeling better, and even losing weight! People tell me I am looking great. 

Not only that, ActionWhey tastes good, with no bitter or gluey aftertaste. I like to blend it with water, milk, rice milk, or almond milk, and a banana. Chocolate is my preferred flavor, but the vanilla is also excellent. I drink one serving in the morning for energy, and if the day is hectic or I'm feeling the need for extra nourishment, I'll drink another serving later in the day. I have always struggled to eat for energy and tend to wilt pretty quickly in the afternoon, even when I eat well (salads and fresh fruits). 

Since I have been using ActionWhey my energy continues evenly through the day. I'm also handling the heat of Nashville summer better, too. No more wilting for me. This has been a special blessing in the last few weeks as life has been more stressful than usual recently (hasn't it been so for us all?). 

Oh, and did I say how helpful it was when I traveled in July? I had plenty of energy for the five hour flight, and when I was at my destination, one serving of ActionWhey kept my energies up so I could enjoy time with my family. 

I also sleep more soundly. And my digestion is better. They say it helps you feel younger—and I do feel younger, lighter, and less weighed down by life itself (this is a neat trick, considering what's going on in my life right now!). 

One new thing I've noticed: clear sinuses. This may not be a big deal in other parts of the country, but summer in Nashville, especially on hot and humid days, can be hell on sinuses. I have had something that gives me sinus headaches every July since I moved here in 1993. Not this year. I'm sure it's the ActionWhey helping my immune system. Clear breathing is a gift, especially when the heat is on and the humidity makes you sweat. Clear sinuses mean more oxygen in the body, and that means more energy. 

Gail Goad, my friend and yoga instructor, introduced me to Action Whey. Her son has helped develop the product, and Hugh Downs chose to feature the product and company on a recent PBS program. It also features Dr. Mark Houston from Vanderbilt, Director of the Center for Anti-Aging and a Board Certified physician. 

I have also learned that it's easy to build a business quickly (low key, absolutely nothing pushy, no financial investment, no complicated systems or sales meetings). I can soon have the monthly cost of my whey drink covered, just by introducing others to what I already use and enjoy. And as more people join under me I can also earn $$$$. All I do is tell them about the product and send them to my website. 

But you don't have to build a business. You can just go to the retail site, read about the product, and download the free report on Glutathione, with no obligation. 

If you decide to try ActionWhey, let me know if you like it. Email me if you have questions. I'll do my best to answer them. I think the website is pretty self-explanatory, though.

I'm putting links for Action Whey here. One takes you to my website. 

candypaull.myemeraldbiz.com

The other link takes you to the Action Whey page for information on the product I'm using.

candypaull.myemeraldstore.com/actionwhey