Let’s Begin

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  • Linda Samuels

    As always, I love your soulful questions, Yota, which stir the “thought” pot so beautifully. So many ideas come to mind. My word for 2022 was “flourishing” and with that set the intention “Manifest amazing shit.” The two worked in tandem wonderfully as I worked on my goals in these three ‘buckets’ – Well-Being, Relationships, and Professional. Did I reach all of my goals? No. But I made significant progress towards most of them.

    There was a push-pull this year. I had a deep need to let go of things- physical weight, physical stuff, thoughts that didn’t serve me, and relationships that were draining. While those were happening, I worked on deepening the positive relationships I have, pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, and honoring my need for quiet and stillness.

    As I reread the writings I did at our retreats this year, the recurring themes were my need and gratitude for quiet, presence, and time to just be. So while a lot happened and was accomplished this year, I also made time for the quiet I craved. I continue to need quiet.

    The winter hasn’t officially arrived, yet I feel it coming. The air is crisper and feels like it’s going to snow. The foliage is mostly gone or dried up. The dark comes earlier each day. There is more frequent candle lighting (even during the daytime) and hot beverage drinking. ‘Cozy’ has taken on new meaning and appreciation, as I wrap myself in soft sweaters, blankets, or settle into bed at night with my Honey.

    The seeds planted this year are coming to fruition in all ways. What I need now is more securing and grounding so I’ll have the energy and insight to move forward and grow. Soon I’ll create a new vision board for the year, selecting my 2023 word and intention. 2022’s word and intention I’ve loved so much, that I don’t want to release them. And being that’s it still 2022, I don’t have to do that YET. If 2023 rolls around I still want to extend them for another year, I will. The beauty here is I get to make my own rules.

    Am happy to be here now. But also excited for what will come.

    • Sarah Lipscomb

      I love when you said you get to make your own rules! What serves us now is still something that can serve us moving forward and I love your fluidity in being able to say, if it still works for me, I’m going to do it.

      I think I get caught up in “this or that” a lot, as if all things must have two sides or choices, but there is a lot of beauty in gray.

      Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Yota Schneider

      Oh Linda, you go ahead … flourish and manifest amazing shit. 🙂 You do that so well!!

      When it comes to dreaming and manifesting, the only rules that apply are the ones that work for you. The seeds you planted last year, have begun to sprout and blossom. You have already began to enjoy your harvest.

      In many ways, you are experiencing summer as we are preparing to enter winter. It can happen, so it’s important to keep the balance between the excitement and outward motion of summer and the natural inclination to turn inwards. I can see you are doing that already.

      I am so looking forward to hear about your vision board for 2023.

    • Kim Cartwright

      A friend, in planning her move across the big pond, earlier this year, finished one of our final visits with “CHEERS TO NEW SHIT”. I believe it has become my new mantra and in some ways has resulting in a kind of flourishing. Linda, keep that spunk driving you forward. I believe it works.

  • Sarah Lipscomb

    While looking back through my journal, I found that I had started this journey by inviting Trust, Belief, Self-Confidence, and Being Enough to be tenants inside my head. In fact, I still have their hand-written invitations taped to my wall as a reminder of the guests I want at my table. Then, while looking at my entries following that first gathering, I realized that all of them accepted my invitation. Or, more likely, I accepted them into my space. The choices I have made, the boundaries I have set, the path I have chosen to walk down, all reflect my belief in myself. I have been putting myself and my family first, which is what I had been hoping for all along.

    I had made a word cloud of all the components of my life during our “Is It Necessary?” gathering and the craziest part is that only two of those words have made the cut as still “necessary.” Without really realizing it, I figured out what is actually necessary for me in my life at this moment: taking care of myself and my family. Realizing that I am enough for myself has opened me up to knowing that my choices are good ones and that my boundaries are reasonable. On top of that, accepting that some people won’t respect those choices and boundaries, and knowing it’s okay to take a step back from them when that happens.

    What I crave moving into this next chapter is to just keep moving down the path I have found myself on, one step at a time. The path of self-discovery through knowing that I am enough. The path where I choose myself at every fork in the road. The path where I trust myself enough to know that in that moment, I’m making the best choice I can be making with the information I have. The path to an unknown destination, but one that is full of trust and belief in myself.

    • Linda Samuels

      I’m so moved by your discoveries, Sarah. As a mama-to-be, the boundaries and choices you are making now will be such a gift to your baby. While every parenting journey is different, I remember how much life, how much I changed when our first daughter was born. She was the making of me…in all good ways. And even to this day, I continue to learn and grow as a parent. My kiddos are such great teachers. And in their learning, I learn about myself, them, and life.

      You are about to round the corner on a unique part of your journey. It’s beautiful how you are grounding yourself, setting boundaries, and preparing for this next stage of life.

    • Yota Schneider

      Sarah, you’ve been doing great work! I love your new friends and how beautifully they fit into your life.

      Trust, Belief, Self-Confidence, and Being Enough will see you through this new chapter of your life. Motherhood is not for the weak-hearted and, as Linda mentioned above, strengthening the bond with your new friends will be a gift to your bab,y and a great support to you and your family.

      Of course, you will continue to grow and change, but knowing that you are enough and trusting yourself to know where you end and someone else begins, makes life so much easier.

    • Kim Cartwright

      Sarah, I too found “Is it Necessary?” very powerful in prompting me to step back and question, why, the drama someone else (family, co-workers, politicians, the media, advertising, etc.) creates has to be something which I need to take on. IT ISN’t. For me, its been delightful to have you join us, with the youthful perspective of having a young family and all the pressure, obligations, demands that come with it. Its a wonderful ride!, don’t get me wrong, but now we empty nesters struggle with who used to be, who we changed into, and who we wish to be now. You get to take that journey too – in time. Thank you for sharing your perspective, it keeps mine in check – for sure!

  • Kathleen Ellis

    I was very moved reading both your comments last night–I was especially struck by how deeply you both contemplate your lives and your commitment to honoring your journey. How did I feel about my own journey right now? Just didn’t know and thought I’d sleep on it. I was sitting for meditation this morning with a group of people who meet at one of the old churches in New Paltz, most of us in our 70s and 80s, and I was overcome with love for the courage they all have to not give up, to keep moving forward and honoring the quest. I also realized that my “self-improvement” goals, which have dominated much of my adult life, are slowly being replaced by a softening of my rigid expectations –or maybe simply a surrender to the impossibility of even getting close :). I saw more clearly that I’ve been playing around with respecting who I am–this is a radical departure. It also opens up more understanding and respect for others, flaws and all. Interestingly, the word that came through loud and clear this morning is intuition. It’s exciting. Intuition has its own timing. I can’t summon it, I certainly can’t control it. I often don’t trust it when it when it means I have to disagree or put myself out on a limb or look foolish. So maybe this is my year of living foolishly!

    • Linda Samuels

      Kathleen- How amazing you have a seasoned group of inspiring meditators you gather with. That they exude courage, determination, and curiosity is inspiring. How fortunate you are open to absorbing that positive energy.

      I’ve noticed such a change in you this year. The angst and doubt have softened. In its place, I see joy and humor. At the last several gatherings, I’ve noticed how your facial expressions have changed. Instead of a furrowed brow, I often see a softness and Buddha-like smile…almost a laugh. Instead of frustration and doubt, you seem more accepting and curious about yourself and the “things” that arise during your meditations.

      You mentioned “intuition” and how the word appeared to you. As you said, it IS hard to summon or control, but when we begin to trust and quiet ourselves, that voice can be heard. I am excited to see how you lean into it more in the coming year. You have a deep knowing that wants to emerge.

    • Yota Schneider

      Dear Kathleen,

      I love how life, guidance, and intuition led you exactly where you needed to be; at an old church in New Paltz, sitting with this wonderful group of people who reflected back the qualities that you also possess … courage, perseverance, and respect for the journey!

      I am not sure which self-improvement goals you are referring to, but it seems to me that softness, surrender, and self-acceptance are not too shabby 🙂 It takes time, work, and navigating stormy weather to get to this.

      Can I just say how I am enjoying “foolish Kathleen” being set free and let out to play?

  • Kathleen Ellis

    Thanks, Linda. Being seen is such a gift. I love that you used the “softness.” It’s not a word often attributed to me! Makes me think of Pema Chodron and my meditation teacher talking about developing a soft heart. It’s such a lovely metaphor and it makes more sense to me than compassion. Maybe it’s the physicality, locating the emotion in the body. The journey to self knowledge is I think infinite. I’ve been working on a project that delves a bit into quantum physics, and I was reading this today: “a quantum particle doesn’t exist in one state or another, but in all of its possible states at once.” I can’t imagine experiencing all possible stages at once, but just the idea is pretty awesome!

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    As I looked over my journal for last year I found my word “Stay” and realized how it really did influence my year. For the first time in ages I began to question some of my relationships and whether they should remain the same. When you get to be in your 70’s you find that you have had so many wonderful liaisons with different people, hobbies, locations you lived in,and even food. Does everything have to stay status quo just because you have done it for a while.
    I was brought up with a strong sense of loyalty and an overwhelming sense of needing to take care of everyone. I also was brought up to be able to take care of everything myself. When I commit to someone or something it is very hard for me to let go of it. So I tend to “stay”!

    This year I realized that I could be gentler on myself and let some things go. It started with my Christmas gift of a cleaning service every two weeks. Cleaning Kathy, was able to let go of that job in a flash. It changed my whole attitude of always being worried about what needed to be done to keep up with the house. I must say it totally amazed me at how quickly I adapted to that change.

    ‘Stay” also worked its positive powers on me. My weight has always been an albatross to me and since the pandemic really became a problem I could no longer ignore. But again in your 70’s there is no FAST answer to losing some weight. I finally said this is just going to take some time and you need to give it that time. Since March I have found a way to eat better and very slowly have lost almost 40 pounds. I still have a ways to go but for the first time in ages I have been able to “stay” with a more realistic, better eating pattern.

    “Stay” with what matters and with what is humanly possible has been my mantra for this year. I have had to let some relationships receive less attention. Some requests that normally I would try to do, I have just said I can’t take on. Some relationships I have seriously chosen to “stay” with even when they get hard to manage.

    What still is tugging at me is finding a “purpose” in retirement. Finding a way to use my creative nature best. I need that outlet to be happy and haven’t quite found a spot to exercise it yet. Still “staying” with that search.

    As I write this I am sitting in a motel room getting ready to go try and surprise a friend that really does matter a lot on her 70th birthday which is actually today. This surprise has had about as many twists and turns as you can get but at 7:00 am this morning we will arrive on her doorstep with bagels. Sorry to be late with this entry but I was in transit all of yesterday. Wish us luck! This is a person worth showing up for!

    • Yota Schneider

      Dear Kathy,

      I hope your surprise worked perfectly, and you have been enjoying the day with your friend who is, after all, “a person worth showing up for!” Please give her our heartfelt wishes too. What a beautiful offering you prepared for her special day.

      Thank you for walking us through your process during 2022 and your ever-evolving relationship with your chosen word for the year … “Stay” (by the way, that was my word too)

      I deeply understand how difficult it must have been for you … choosing to be kinder with yourself and addressing your personal needs. It has always been a challenge for me too.

      Congratulations on asking for help, having “cleaning Kathy’s” back,” and taking a closer look at existing relationships. You are a fiercely loyal friend, and this year you chose to extend that loyalty and friendship to Kathy as well!

      Also, congratulations on standing strong, making the commitment to take care of your body, and following through. I know this has been a challenge but here you are taking it on, and winning.

      What a year this has been for you. I hope you realize that by making Kathy your priority and clearing space and eneergy for her, your objective of finding your purpose in retirement will follow. You have been doing exactly what David Whyte suggests.

      “Beginning anything well involves a clearing away the confusing,
      the cluttered, and the complicated so we can find the beautiful, often hidden
      lineaments of the essential and the necessary.”

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    Thank you ladies for sharing your journey. I saw a little of me in each of your responses.
    Linda your boundless enthusiasm for life just wows me. I love how you always ring positive! Your insights are gentle, warm and meaningful.

    Sarah I love having someone young in age but old in soul in our group. I think that family is such a strong core for me and I am so glad you are taking the time to honor that. When I listen to many screwed up adults I realize how lucky I am to have had such a strong family bond. It certainly gave me the foundation to know I am enough on my own but even better as part of my many families.

    Kathleen , my name sharing pal, I adore you. Who is that crazy motorcycle Lady from the meditation that time- she really has been let loose this year. I so admire your intelligence and your quest for knowledge. It amazes me me how hard you work. Of course I love our Monday mornings together delving into meaning.
    I just love smart people!

    Yota you are so special to me. I know sometimes you feel like you don’t fit in but I for one, am so glad you don’t! Who else would take on this beautiful task of gathering a group of women to try and make meaning out of their lives. I know how much work behind the scenes you do to make it turn out seamlessly perfect !
    From beautiful photos, to perfect readings, to thoughtful prompts to listening to each of us and honoring our being. So what was your word last year?

    • Yota Schneider

      Dear Kathy,

      Thank you for “seeing” us all and addressing each one so beautifully … with love, respect, and appreciation. Of course, you would do that because that is who you are … a generous, open-hearted woman whose mind always seeks to understand.

      I feel fortunate and very grateful to walk alongside you. And, yes, I did cry when I read what you wrote about each of us. It’s all so true, and you were able to put into words what we all see in each other. Thank you for that!

      As for my word for 2022, it’s been “STAY” Do you have any idea how challenging this can be for a misfit?

      PS. By the way, thanks for correcting my spelling of the word, “tugging” 🙂

  • Kathleen Ellis

    I write this with tears in my eyes, so grateful for everyone’s vulnerability and honesty, and Kathy for your loving and wise acknowledgements of each of us. We are are each of us misfits, in our ways resisting the superficial conformity to society’s view of what success is, what constitutes happiness, what is worth achieving and and spending our lives working towards. Yota, one of your great gifts is collecting us misfits and understanding how to support us and help us unleash our own gifts–and I know this is through your own hard work and painful journey of coming to terms with not fitting in, and your willingness to go as deep as it takes to reach the well. Herding cats is said to be impossible, but we all know better!

  • Linda Samuels

    What an amazing group you are! You inspire me with your openness, vulnerability, seeking, and willingness to put “it” out there…whatever “it” is. The word “misfit” is funny. I think of us more as the “right fit”, especially for this group.

    I also understand that feeling of not fitting in. I’ve often had the desire to fit in and also NOT wanted to. “Unique” was a value I grew up with. The argument of wanting to do something because “everyone else was doing it” never got traction from my parents. In fact, if we used that as a compelling argument, it never worked.

    I love how in this group we each are on our own unique journey, support one another, and are encouraged to grow. Love and hugs to you all.

    • Kim Cartwright

      Kathleen, I love how you twist the conversation: ‘[I] look foolish’ to ‘this is my year of living foolishly.’ How wonderful to have fun and laugh at [with] yourself. And too, ‘Softening’ and then ‘Radical departure’; why not be flexible or even unpredictable – LIFE is. Do embrace all possibilities at once, it could be pretty awesome!

  • Kim Cartwright

    I echo that being seen is such a gift and also that “’clearing away the confusing,
    the cluttered, and the complicated so we can find …the essential and the necessary.”

    My take from this prompt is that in this year I have realized that the clutter, a.k.a. ‘drama, and the clutter, a.k.a. ‘things are less REAL, less BINDING, less ESSENTIAL and less WORTHY of my attention. Having moved 3 times in 3 years, clutter in the form of drama and things is of little essence. During that time, I’ve grown to be less judgmental, more light, craving fun, loving the person they are, and shunning the drama, misperceptions and emotional and mental thievery that surrounds us. Seeing and being seen is at the core of this.

    My WORD has become ‘ME’; 2 letters, simple. Early in our gatherings Yota said to me ‘you’ve forgotten about Kim’. True. ‘Me’ had often been hard to find, shrouded by drama, dismissed or hidden, hiding, or putting others first. Kelsey Ballerini’s song “I Miss Me More” is a feisty retort to a break-up and reclaiming self. (On a night where we are not in meditation, I can be found blasting that tune! “I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings
    Forgot who I was before….” ) In my relationships w/people, my pets, my work and even my finances, ‘me’ is now a partner in the conversation, and so much good has come of it! Including being SEEN.

    • Kathleen Ellis

      Kim I really love your two letter word! I’m especially resonating with you partnering with yourself rather than looking for what you need from other people. I do so much of that myself and I’m inspired by what an amazing journey you’ve taken in one year–I remember how upset you were by friends that had disappeared, and a year later the feisty you who is creating a life that is creative and fulfilling and nourishes you, and draws the light and the right peopleto you. Emotional and mental thievery is a great metaphor for what we allow to happen. You’ve taken control in such a powerful way–many congratulations!

      • Kim Cartwright

        Kathleen, Thank You!
        I’ve always been a bit of a loner, able to keep myself occupied. Being married with a family and a business, and a job and 2 dogs, two cats, 5 chickens, a PTO, a karate studio ‘family’, and extended family and friends overtook that sense of self.

        Coming off my divorce, my new work & friends circle succeded both in filling some of those holes and in people seemingly, at least at the time, seeing and appreciating me for me. Post-COVID, all bets were off, and an unexpected transition.

        I cannot emphasize enough how our Gatherings have created the space to find my stride again.

    • Yota Schneider

      Kim, you have been willing to “travel far and meet yourself,” and it’s paying off.
      So much has happened since the day we met in NM. Our paths have crossed many times but timing is everything, isn’t?

      It’s normal to lose ourselves in our family, job, career, friends, and everything we have been given to care for. We were never taught the importance of making ourselves a priority too. It’s a setup that eventually puts us in a place where we are asked to learn and relearn what it means to befriend ourselves. The day arrives when you realize that all that happened … the loss, the pain, ” the drama, misperceptions and emotional and mental thievery” … is compost you can use to nurture a new harvest, your new beginning, and remember that you have dreams, you got wings, and you are so much more than you were made to believe.

      So, here’s to your best friend and partner!

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