Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Universe in an Orange Shirt

Did you ever think that maybe the Universe is talking to you all the time?

There used to be a show on TV called “Joan of Arcadia.” Joan Girardi was a typical high school kid – except that God was always showing up as random people in her life. These people (who were really God in disguise) would challenge her to do things she probably would not otherwise do. Sometimes God was the cafeteria lady, sometimes a little girl, sometimes a goth kid at school. The theme song was Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” (What if God was one of us? / Just a slob like one of us / Just a stranger on the bus / Trying to make his way home).

I had a Joan of Arcadia experience this morning when the Universe (my preferred name for God) showed up in the form of a city utility worker. On the last leg of my morning walk, I rounded the corner from the busy main street into my peaceful neighborhood and saw that I would have to skirt around a huge fallen eucalyptus branch. A City of Mesa utility truck was parked next to the mess. I removed my iPod’s earbuds as I was greeted by a smiling man in a bright orange shirt who’d been scratching his head and looking over the debris and the ravaged remains of the tree.

“Good morning!” he said jovially with a twinkle in his eye (think Morgan Freeman in “Bruce Almighty” or “Evan Almighty”).

“Did that fall down in the night?” I asked, stupidly pointing out the obvious.

“These eucalyptus trees do this all the time,” he replied, with a kind of pleased enthusiasm that didn’t seem warranted given that he’d likely be the one to have to cut it up and haul it off.

It was certainly true, I reflected, remembering when our neighbor’s eucalyptus had come crashing through our fence a few years back. Not just a branch – the whole tree. And my own eucalyptus in the front yard split in two one day and had to be cut down. Eucs tend to suck up all the water they can, growing faster and heavier than their frames can manage. When there’s not much water to be had, their giant limbs grow brittle. They’ll weather all kinds of wind and heat and then one day, when not a breeze is stirring, a humongous branch will come crashing down with no warning.

“Heat’s coming on us today,” he observed, not ruefully but with the attitude of a man about to do battle and relishing the thought.

“Yep. Supposed to hit 100 today,” I said over my shoulder as I resumed my walk.

It was just a brief, random exchange. Except that as I’d rounded that corner, I’d been stewing over some financial challenges my family is facing right now. I’d been feeling like things might come crashing down at any moment. I’d been worrying whether we could stand the heat, or if we’d have to get out of the kitchen. Like the eucalyptus, our national economy had grown top-heavy and it seemed like a great big branch of it was about to fall right on us.

Then I ran into the Universe wearing an orange shirt and a big smile and pointing out to me that these things happen all the time. The Universe, standing ready to clean up the aftermath of anything that might come crashing down, heat be damned. Suddenly, I felt better. There might be some hard work ahead, but I’m willing to roll up my shirtsleeves and see it through. And I know the Universe has my back.

I quickened my pace just a bit and started singing out loud to the tune on my iPod: Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.”

As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)

Visit my website: www.DeepWaterLeafSociety.com

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Cameron's Birthday, But the Present's for YOU!

Today is my son Cameron’s 31st birthday, or would be if he was still here. I’m not sure how old he is where he lives now, or if age is even a concept there. It’s been nearly five years since his death and rather than feeling bittersweet, today I am feeling very happy about his birthday. I’m going to celebrate by giving away 10 copies of The Deep Water Leaf Society: Harnessing the Transformative Power of Grief in eBook format. The book has been available since September in paperback and I’ll be officially launching the eBook release within the coming month. Here is your chance to get a free pre-release copy of the eBook, which includes full-color illustrations.

The Deep Water Leaf Society tells the story of Cameron’s death and the journey of awakening I experienced in the aftermath. While it is autobiographical, it is also a guidebook to healing for anyone experiencing grief. You will learn how to use art, journaling, dreams and synchronicity to heal and grow. Even if you are not grieving, the tools, practices and messages of the book can show you a pathway to transformation and personal growth.

Many people have asked me what the title of the book means. The name was given to me in a dream. You can read the dream in the first chapter of the book, which you can download here, or you can read about it in my very first blog entry here. Even so, many people still scratch their heads over the title, so let me tell you what I think it means.

Most of us live our lives like a leaf floating on a very deep lake. Just as winds and currents move the leaf around, we allow much of the direction of our lives to be determined by the people and events around us. We drift along like sleepwalkers living surface level lives, never finding out who we really are. I think of the “deep water leaf” as one who has had that smooth surface shattered, one who has been pulled into the depths and found that rather than drowning the experience has left him or her more alive than ever. Because it’s only in the depths that we will see the mystery, the magic, the timelessness of who we are and how we are connected. We can only find those things by diving deeper. We can wait for a tragedy to shatter the surface for us, or we can just take a deep breath and dive.

So, if you’d like to receive your own copy of The Deep Water Leaf Society in eBook format (268 pages filled with color illustrations) totally free with no strings attached, be one of the first 10 people to post a comment on this blog entry telling me about one of your own “deep water leaf” experiences:
  • when have you found yourself experiencing the magic and mystery of the deep?
  • what triggered that experience?
  • did something shatter the surface, or did you just dive in?

To post your comment, scroll down to the bottom of this blog entry and click on the “Comments” link. In addition, please send an email to Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety that includes your name, your email address and some reference to the context of your post. I will confirm your winning status and send a link to your download within 48 hours of receiving your email and verifying your posted comment.

Now, I know Cameron’s listening, so everybody sing along with me:
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you…

As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)

Visit my website: http://www.deepwaterleafsociety.com/