Sunday, November 17, 2019

Reality...A Matter of Perception

"These 7 little words actually hold all the answers to the mystery of life itself within them."

I want to talk about perception.  I think it's an underrated commodity.  As in, folks don't give it the value it deserves.  I mean really, think about this popular quote:
                                  "What we PERCEIVE is what we BELIEVE."
These 7 little words actually hold all the answers to the mystery of life itself within them.  How you say?  Well, because they are letting us in on the secret that our PERCEPTION of what is happening around us actually creates our reality!  Let's break it down...

What is Reality?

Some might think this a silly question with an obvious answer.  They might say something like, "Well that's obvious.  Reality is what we can see, hear, feel and touch.  It is the world around us and all that we experience within it."  Well I beg to differ with that opinion.  I believe 'reality' is a bit more complex than that, and yet in principal is really simple.  I believe that reality is based on how one PERCEIVES the various stimuli they are exposed to. 

Have you ever watched someone else face something especially challenging in their life with a steadfast determination that things will work out just fine and wondered to yourself, "how do they DO that?  Why aren't they falling apart?  I don't think I could handle that.....I'd surely crumble!"  

Or perhaps you are the person who watches someone in hysterics over a traumatic event and says silently to yourself, "Oh darlin, if you would only relax and surrender to what is happening things would be a lot less stressful for you as you go through this.  After all, things always have a way of working themselves out." 

What do you suppose makes these types of people so different from one another? I used to ponder this question quite often...until I figured out the answer.  PERCEPTION.  Perception is simply how we view what is happening around us.  And contrary to popular belief, we do actually have a CHOICE in all of this.  We, in each and every moment of our lives, can choose what to believe and what not to believe. There is great power in this realization. Let's go a bit deeper...


"Your brain will believe anything you tell it"

Challenge Your Belief Systems!

How many of you have heard the expression:  "Your brain will believe anything you tell it?"  This is so true but not to be confused with believing anything someone else tells you!  Give this one some thought...

Have you lived through an experience where you were feeling anxious or nervous to face something?  Could be a first time date with someone you are attracted to, a job interview, getting called to the boss's office (the equivalent to getting called to the principal's office!) or any number of seemingly terrifying events.  How did you face these things?  Did you continually tell yourself that you had something to worry about?  That you would somehow screw things up and lose the job, car, home, love interest or anything else you were going for?  

We all hear the advice from our cheerful, upbeat friends and our spiritually enlightened Life Coaches to simply "Believe and you will achieve"  or "Think positively and you will attract positive results".  But we often seem to fall short of our mark no matter how many doomsday thoughts we chase away or positive mantras we chant. Why is this? I believe the answer to that lies deep within our belief systems or "operating system" as I like to call it.

No matter how many times we practice positive thinking, we may, in fact, have a deeply ingrained belief system that runs contrary to our efforts, merrily chugging along in the background of our subconscious minds without our even realizing it!  And if we really want to see some changes in how we perceive the world around us, we must first tackle these old belief systems, many of which are not even OUR beliefs at all but things we were told as a child that we just adopted as a truth and carry with us throughout our lives.

"I accepted a different truth....one where children DO die before their parents..."

I came face to face with an example of this in a conversation with a new friend just the other day.  Inevitably the subject of children came up and upon hearing my tale of the loss of both of mine, she was genuinely shocked when she said to me, "That is just horrible!  You poor thing!  It's just not right, we are supposed to go before our kids!  This just shouldn't happen!"

In this case, the underlying, deeply ingrained belief system that we, as a society have taught ourselves to believe is that it is somehow UNNATURAL for our children to die before us. But I can stand here as living proof and tell you that no, that is not true because sometimes, our children do, indeed go before us. So why does it matter what I believe?  

It matters because it is my belief that will shape my perception and my perception, in turn, will shape my reality.  In this case, I chose not to feel like I was somehow wronged by the Universe in outliving my children. I accepted a different truth....one where children DO die before their parents and in doing so, was able to move through my initial "grief storm" with a lot more ease than those who find themselves distraught over how "unfair" their loss is. I was able to experience a reality where I could accept the death of my children and eventually, find deeper meaning and purpose for those experiences. 

I understand how difficult this particular example can be for most people to accept.  Truly I do, but I am asked time and again to tell, show and teach people how I survived the loss of my kids and to do anything other than present the truth as I PERCEIVE it would not sit well with me at all, nor would anyone ever gain anything from my experience if I were to sugar coat it. This blog is titled "Let's Talk About the Elephant in the Room.  Frank Discussion About Difficult Things" after all.

In fact, I am often met with people who are suspicious in nature...quite convinced that I am not really as happy as I appear to be.  Because their view of the world is so different from mine that they assume anyone who claims to find peace in the face of trauma must be lying. (A perfect example of this is a certain newspaper journalist who interviewed me a while back.  You can read that interview HERE)


"I feel it was my decision to take on that belief that shaped my entire experience of the unavoidable period of deep grief that followed."

Change Your Perception...Change Your Life!

I've had lots of time to think about these things.  I've wondered if I was simply born different.  Like with some sort of gene that makes me predisposed to being more resilient than others.  While this may prove to have some merit, my conclusions are that it really all starts in my mind.  What I tell myself is what shapes what I believe and how I feel.  All of this then shapes my reality.  In the case of my son's suicide, which was a very traumatic event to be sure, I decided in the very first few hours that I would SURVIVE this.  I feel it was my decision to take on that belief that shaped my entire experience of the unavoidable period of deep grief that followed. 
(I invite you to read more about that time in my life in a previous blog post called, 'Victim or Survivor...You'r Choice?' ).

So the next time you find yourself feeling compelled to judge someone else for their thoughts, reactions, emotions, comments, actions and/or lack of action around any experience in life that does not match how YOU feel, think and react, I invite you to shift your own PERCEPTION for even just a moment and look at the situation from a different view point.  When we understand that we all are simply creating our own realities base on how we perceive the world around us, we can begin to drop our judgement of others.  Because, after all, the beliefs they have taken on within themselves outline the very truth of their own existence, making their truth no less REAL to them than yours is to you. 

Namaste
Vicky


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Friday, September 6, 2019

Grief and Our Pets

Grief and Our Pets

by Vicky Edgerly

     I had to say goodbye to my dog recently.  His name was Jangles and he was the youngest of 3 Labs that my late-husband and I raised together.  My 'Baby Boy'.  I cradled his sweet face in my lap and whispered words of love and gratitude into his ears as the drugs sent him off to sleep.  You would think that after burying both of my children and my husband, losing a pet would be inconsequential to me...but it isn't.  It isn't at all.

     I have a vivid memory of a woman grieving her deceased dog that used to spark a lot of anger in me. You see, my own son had taken his life at the tender age of 18 just a few weeks before, when a women I worked with announced the death of her beloved dog of some 15 years over the weekend.  This was during a time in my own journey where the grief over my son's suicide was still very much in the driver's seat.  I prided myself on how far I had come because I could go to the office and hold it together for the required eight hour day (although the floodgates would burst open as soon as I pushed through the exit doors at days end and hot, wet tears would be pouring down my face and bouncing off my shoes by the time I reached my car).

     The bereaved Dog Mommy was having a rough time with her own loss.  Her emotional state would periodically require her to get up and abandon her desk to go sit in the lunch room until she could get her tears under control.  This left me to handle her job of answering incoming calls, which seemed like an extreme hardship for me at the time as my still traumatized brain struggled to function properly in the workplace.

     My anger toward this woman, and others like her was very real and demanded my attention.  How dare these people compare the grief they feel over a deceased pet to that of a mother who has buried a child or a young widow who has had to say goodbye to the man she thought she'd spend her life with?  Really?

"That grieving dog Mom, as it turned out, had lived a life full of abuse, neglect and abandonment." 
 
 It was probably another year or two before I came to terms with what I had experienced back then and started to view ALL people from a different perspective.  You see, I later learned a bit more about that coworker.  That grieving dog Mom, as it turned out, had lived a life full of abuse, neglect and abandonment.  She lived with scars that I could not 'see'.  Scars that shaped how she viewed her world and lived her life. That dog that she had for 15 years, from her perspective, as seen while standing in HER shoes and looking through HER eyes, was the only living being on the planet that did not abuse her, neglect her or abandon her.  No matter what her mood or state of being was, her loving pet offered companionship and unconditional love and here, all of a sudden, it was gone from her life.  So yes, to HER the grief over this loss was crippling.

     So who was I to judge her reaction?  Grief comes in so many shapes and sizes.  There is no 'one-size-fits-all' experience.  Some folks are just as devastated over big changes in their lives (like the loss of a marriage, home or a job) as others may be over the physical loss of a parent or a sibling.  Should we really stand in judgement over these people?  Or can we offer compassion?

     I, for one, find healing in offering compassion to another in pain, both for me and for them.  While I could not 'see' this clearly in the early days of acute grief, I am now very grateful to myself for being able to come to this place of understanding.  Who couldn't use a little self-checkup on our own preconceived notions about others?  I feel that in this world full of  'us against them' attitudes, we could all benefit from a little exercise in offering compassion to our fellow man, which has to start by dropping judgements.

     Even among the 'grieving set' I see clicks develop as judgmental attitudes serve to separate us into groups....each group claiming THEIR experience to be the worst, most stressful and painful of all the grief journeys.  As if my trauma should come with some kind of badge of honor and yours, should not?  I wonder what purpose this could possibly serve?

     I expected to feel sad after letting go of Jangles.  The depth of my feelings, however, surprised even me.  At first I did not understand my reaction.  After all, I had just put down my Chocolate Lab, Hunta,  a mere 5 months before and was completely capable of processing that loss without any problems or complications. Why was this one throwing me for such a loop?  Did I love him more than the others? Or was something else at play here?

"I seek out the challenge, the opportunity for growth and eventually, find the GIFT."

   
If you follow me on social media and/or read my blogs you will already be familiar with my methods of dealing with life's less than joyous occasions.  By that I mean I try to tackle them head on.  I look for deeper meanings, messages, lessons.  I seek out the challenge, the opportunity for growth and eventually, find the GIFT.

     This occasion was no different.  Once I recognized the fact that I was grieving more deeply for this dog than I had expected, I took a closer look.  I checked in with myself to see if there was something else going on.  I was rewarded with a slew of opportunities to work on any unresolved grief, guilt, pain etc. over a broad area of my life.

     You see, Jangles was the very last living being that depended on me for it's comfort and survival needs.  Having been the person who always cares for others, I found myself suddenly FREE.  Free of all caregiving attachments to others.  After raising 2 kids, burying those kids, then a husband, then raising a granddaughter,  along with 3 dogs and being 'counselor' to untold numbers of people including family and friends, I suddenly found myself standing alone, with no one to care for except myself.

     This realization brought with it a mixed bag of emotions.  The most prevalent, and at war with one another, would be the euphoric feeling of FREEDOM right along side the frightening sensation of being ALONE in the world.  I wont get into all the details here with you all but suffice to say, I spent the next few weeks honoring any old memories that would come up.  Believe me, a LOT have been coming up!  When they have sadness attached to them I allow the tears and tell myself they are cleansing and healing...when there is anger involved I take it out and look at it and decide that it was appropriate back then but no longer needed and I let it go....if there is happiness around an old memory I choose to cherish the blessing that moment was and feel grateful for having had it and no longer spend time wishing that I could have it back again.

"May we all be free to grieve with abandon and without fear of society's judgement.."

   
 So as I release any judgement toward myself for having such a strong reaction to losing 'just a pet', I will ask all of you to do the same.  We have so many areas of life where we judge ourselves and each other...why not leave the Grief arena out of the mix?
May we all be free to grieve with abandon and without fear of society's judgement....no matter what or who we have lost.

Namaste
Vicky


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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Facing the Waters of My Youth




Facing the waters of my youth…

     I am, in fact, sitting at a table which is in front of a window facing the waters of my youth.  I am 56 years old in this moment frozen in time but I am also timeless….
Walker Pond is laid out before me…the Walker Pond of my own youth, where I played as a child during frequent visits here to my Mother’s family home.  The Walker Pond that I brought my own family to when my children were small…and the same Walker Pond that my grand children still enjoy on the less than frequent occasions that I bring them here.

     Today, I embody all of those eras and beyond….today I simply AM
As I gaze out the window, memories start to dance behind my eyes.  I can see myself as a young child fresh from the bath and in my pajamas for the night.  It’s a summer evening so there is still plenty of daylight outside.  I am savoring the pure joy of being allowed to run outside in the waning light.  That feeling that this was somehow ‘special’.  Squeaky clean and smelling of Ivory soap…hair still damp and combed neatly.  Running barefoot on the cool grass in these last few minutes of the day… sleep not far off.

     I am slightly older now, maybe 7 or 8.  My grandfather, once again, offers me a choice.  The crisp dollar bill he is holding out  in front of me or all the change he has stored in the pocket of his green Dickey work trousers.  As always, I choose the dollar bill which to my child’s mind is worth way more than coins, only to discover that the change in his pocket added up to several dollars… I fell for it again!

     I’m 18 now watching my cousin, Ernie ride his beloved dirt bike up and down the road that leads from the house to the pond. My mind lingers over Ernie for a bit, remembering.  Remembering what it was like to have this boy as our cousin and childhood playmate.  Ernie was born with a debilitating heart condition.  As children, we always knew that his life would be a short one.  Being so close to death entitled him to special consideration….we were not to ‘excite’ Ernie lest it cause him to have a heart attack.  As you can imagine, Ernie could get away with pretty much whatever he wanted since the old-fashioned types of punishments the rest of us received for naughty behaviors would not be administered to Ernie for fear of causing his failing to heart give out.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Things Could Always Be Worse!

   
     I've heard all the hype over Mercury Retrograde for years now but I never seem to be affected in any adverse way by it so I was not at all concerned about this one even though people I know are all saying it's a particularly challenging time for them. I didn't let it bother me and simply went about my business as usual, not worried at all about any mishaps that might result.

      I went out shopping for a new bathing suit, not an easy task in northern New England in March as most shops do not have any on the sales floor yet.  I had been looking for a couple of weeks now at various local stores to no avail.  The struggle is real I tell you!

     I finally found a store that had an entire section of this years suits all on display with an incredible array of styles and sizes.  I had hit the motherload!  I picked out 8 suits, the maximum number allowed in the dressing room at one time, and closed myself in the little booth that I was led to by the cheery sales clerk.  You know, the ones with the really horrible (realistic?) mirrors?

     I lined up my colorful selection of swimsuits and began to disrobe.  I placed my purse on the bench-seat provided and gently laid my eye glasses on top of it.  Have you ever experienced an intuitive 'warning' about something?  Well I got one of those when I placed my brand new, $400 pair of prescription eye glasses on top of that purse. I KNEW it was a bad idea but I ignored that little voice and simply set an intention to be super careful not to let anything happen to them.

     After trying on 7 of the 8 suits I was striking out and starting to get discouraged.   But, as luck would have it, the very last one I tried on was a keeper!  I felt like Cinderella when she was able to slip her foot into the perfectly fitting glass slipper at the last minute before the Prince gave up on his quest to find his love. (Humor me...as I said, the struggle is real!)

     I was so excited over my success that I began to hurry and get dressed lest this suit turn back into a pumpkin before I could purchase it and get it out of the store.  My elated joy was quickly replaced with horrible dread at the sound of a loud POP when I sat on the bench to put my shoes on.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Ladybug

The Ladybug
by Vicky Edgerly
March 6, 2019

     I am not sure what I will be writing about this morning but am just "showing up" to see what happens.

     I will start with my waking thoughts of gratitude, for I surely did wake with a song in my heart and the promise of spring in the air.  Of course the bright sunshine straining to burst through my drawn curtains helped to set the mood but I believe it was much more than that.  I believe it has more to do with how I went to bed last night along with what I directed my thoughts to linger on every time I woke during the night.

     I went to sleep with a purpose.  I stated my purpose to myself and the cosmos.  I fell asleep with thoughts of gratitude playing through my mind.  I had pulled my selenite wand under the covers with me.  I held it in my hand and set the intention of working with the healing properties of this amazing earth element.  I assigned it the task of clearing and purifying my own energy field.  I asked it to help me slough off the days "junk" that I may have picked up along the way.  I'm speaking of energetic junk; thoughts, emotions and other types of frequencies that float around the environment in which I live, such as the quagmire of anxiety, restlessness, depression, anger, resentment, grief and guilt along with air pollution, food toxins and electromagnetic emissions from cell towers and electronic devices.

     I gave my body instructions to clear these things from my personal environment, my own energy body.  With a clear energy body I am much stronger and more capable to do the physical healing work inside my human body that it requires of me at this time.  So much is done while we sleep, while our ego mind is out of the way and not paying attention.

     I set my own body on the task of clearing itself of any toxins it's ready to release.  I offered gratitude to my own physical form for putting up with the years of neglect and abuse I have put it through...usually under the guise of "I need to make sure everyone else is taken care of first"... leaving myself last on the list of priorities.

      I purposely fell asleep with words of gratitude and intention on my lips.  I dreamt of a ladybug.  I remember only snippets of the dream but she came to me for protection and I carried her with me as she roamed up and down my arms at will.

      And so I awoke with a song in my heart and an overall feeling of being blessed in these early moments of the day.  I knew that I would prioritize my own morning routines today, ministering to my body, mind and spirit before even checking my cell phone.  I am so grateful to be at a stage in my life where I feel free to do these things.  So many years were spent hitting the floor running, rushing and charging through my day to get as much done as humanly possible leaving zero time to honor and care for myself.

     And so I awoke with a song in my heart.  Is this what they mean by raising my vibration?

     I drew back a curtain and cherished the morning sun on my face for a moment, then placed my selenite wand on the sill to bask in the sun's energy throughout the day.  As I offered it more expressions of gratitude for working with me during the night, I looked up and saw a lady bug crawling up the window pane.
   
     "Ladybug's appearance signals new happiness, often with material gains.  A renewed sense of well being occurs, and higher goals and new heights can be more easily attained over the following months.  Worries will begin to dissipate. " 



 Excerpt from: The Animal Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews

As always, I welcome your thoughtful comments!
Love and Blessings to All,
Vicky

Contact Info:

Vicky Edgerly
White Elephant Wisdom LLC
info@whiteelephantwisdom.com
www.WhiteElephantWisdom.com

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Peach



The Peach
by Vicky Edgerly

     I'm perched on the eve of a new month.  This particular month feels HUGE to me.  The anticipation is palpable.  I can sense it, feel it and even TASTE it.

     It tastes like the sweet juice of a perfectly ripened peach, still warmed by the late summer sun.

     But, like the peach, first I must bite into the bristly, somewhat bitter skin if I am to taste that golden nectar that lies beyond its walls. I must TRUST that once I break through, there will be pure liquid joy on the other side.

     The trust is not an easy thing.. How many times have I settled into a comfortable spot with my treasured fruit poised and ready to savor only to find it mealy and dry inside, void of any flavor at all? But still, I pick up another peach and begin the ripening process all over again.

     That is what March 1st feels like to me this year (2019). I've bitten into a lot of tasteless peaches over the last few years but the one awaiting my attention now is sure to be perfect in every way.

     I can smell its promise of perfection.  And smelling it provides me with a taste of the memory of what I know lies just on the other side of that protective, outer shell.  I can feel its perfection in the way the flesh gives under the ever so slight pressure of my thumb.

     It is ready to be savored.  It is there for the taking. It has been waiting for me, and now our time has come to share this dance of give and take.

     The peach, like my life, exists solely to please me...to be savored and cherished by me.  When I give myself over to the experience...when I face the unpleasant skin of it upon entry....when I am brave enough to welcome those uncomfortable parts in order to reap the rewards of what lies beyond, then THAT is where the victory is for both of us.

     It knows I am grateful for that moment beyond anything else in my existence.  It knows....and that is what it has lived for.  That one instant of offering me this bittersweet moment in time.  This triumph over fear of the unknown.

     We both rejoice in our sense of accomplishment.  The peach in its ability to attract my focus...that I might shower it with every ounce of love and appreciation I can produce and me, for not discarding the bitter parts but for taking them all into my very being.  Bite after bite I allow the not-so-sweet parts to enter.  I love them too because of the rush of liquid gold they have been protecting.

  Together, we dance between sour faced puckers and sweet relief.  Back and forth we go, until we have become ONE.  This precious fruit has entered my body where it will continue to feel the gratitude of every cell that makes me human.  It just keeps on giving...now in the form of nourishment and my tissues, cells and organs sing in response to the treasured gifts it brings.

     And what is left when this experience is over?  I hold the best gift of all in the palm of my hand...the seed to begin this incredible cycle all over again.

As always, I welcome your thoughtful comments!
Love and Blessings to All,
Vicky

Contact Info:

Vicky Edgerly
White Elephant Wisdom LLC
info@whiteelephantwisdom.com
www.WhiteElephantWisdom.com

Follow Vicky on Facebook!

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Click HERE for more inspirational and informative blog posts

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Grieving Part 5_For All My Widowed Friends Out There


     The Widow's Journey

     Every significant loss brings with it a grief journey that we must walk through. Each and every journey will be different from the last as well as the next.  With each death, we will experience a different set of feelings, triumphs and challenges that are unique to us just as our relationships with those who have passed were.  While there are some basic parts of grief that may seem ‘familiar’ to us, we will also encounter brand new feelings that will take us by surprise. Today, I’d like to talk specifically about the many challenges we face after losing a spouse.

     While I can only speak from personal experience based on the perceptions of a woman who has lost her husband, I can tell you that I have observed many similarities in the over-all list of challenges one faces after losing a spouse no matter what the gender is of the couple involved.  We are all finding ourselves in a position of having to 'let go' of our partner in life. 

     First, of course, we have to walk through those initial days of acute grief.  As always, this looks different for each individual but some common denominators are shock, numbness, uncontrollable emotions, inability to concentrate, wanting to be alone, needing to be near people, fear etc.  As we are fending off these types of rapidly changing moods and emotions, we also need to immediately make important decisions, mostly involving arrangements for the memorial services and/or burial.  For me, I found the darkest, most difficult times to bear during those early days were bedtime and first thing in the morning.  Something about climbing into the empty bed and then, waking in the morning also to an empty bed just brought the reality of the situation crashing in.  I was alone.

     It doesn't take us long to realize just how much we leaned on our mates during our daily lives.  Every morning when I woke my first thought was of him and the fact that he was really gone.  My instincts would be to reach for HIM for comfort.  He was my partner, my mate and my rock when I needed consoling and so I felt like I was caught in a paradox since he was my go-to for that support I so desperately needed.  I had already walked through losing both of my children with this man by my side so this realization of having to face this loss alone was stark and undeniable from the very first day. While I was fortunate enough to have family and friends willing to rally around me, internally, I still felt completely alone. If we are lucky enough to have great love in our relationship with our life partner, then we feel almost 'as one' so when one half of that equation dies, the other half feels alone, incomplete, broken.

Maintaining the Status Quo

     I consider myself lucky to have incredible friends and supportive family members who felt a calling to jump right in and help when they could.   They even organized a day where several folks came to my home to help me get my large property all buttoned up and prepared for a New Hampshire winter that first year. This was a really BIG blessing as I am someone who tends to take everything on myself rather than ask for help!  

     But once winter set in and time began to pass from weeks into months I found myself getting more and more run down as I did, out of necessity, take on all the various chores that my husband usually handled around the property.  

     At first, I tried to do it all.  I kept up with the things he took pride in around our place like heating our home with wood in winter, planting and nurturing a large vegetable garden and keeping our lawn manicured perfectly so it looked like a lush, green carpet at all times.  

     'Simply speaking my truth about this was a big step for me...I was beginning to change'