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Since lighted candles can be problematic with puppies in the house, my friend suggested we build an electronic-candle bonfire and sent her husband to buy just the right ones.
I spoke briefly about the Buddha tradition of offering a Metta Prayer; first for self, then those closest to us, and then to everyone everywhere.
To celebrate the creative spirit in all of us, I presented each of them with a drawing I had done of each of them based on an earlier time in Life. Here now, there is no way to know if this different kind of Winter Solstice celebration had meaning for them, but their upturned faces will live in my memory as a time when my intention was only to share love for them, for me, and for the creative process which is Life. As this new year begins, I offer this Metta Prayer: May everyone everywhere receive a moment of pure love that can sustain them through Lifea€™s many changes. We stand and sit together in the silence of our prayers and observe the vastness before us.
We chose on the same day, at the same time, to stop and to see the mountain and each other. So often when I consider what experiences have shaped me, my thoughts bring up the men of my Life.
Today as I reflect more deeply about being shaped by experiences, it is the women who have continually touched my Life and who are held most deeply in my heart with gratitude. Not to be overlooked are my younger sisters; together they have taught me how to care for another.
Perhaps the most overlooked experience-shaping women are all those who have given and received love without expectation of reward or credit. As I move towards a€?old age,a€? it is not how fast I can run, how well I can write, or how well my accomplishments will be remembered that sustains me. It is easy to believe that the opposite of love is hate and the opposite of fear is courage. This concept is difficult to accept if we equate fear to weakness and avoidance of physical harm as the only fear. So new were the views from this direction, I missed the path entrance that would take me on around the lake to the dam and back home.
So there I stood wanting both things; to protect my knee and to know where I had missed the path. Asking what I most want is a process that serves me well for big decisions; I often sit quietly before acting. We stand face-to-face and as he explains the importance of getting his name right, the ancestors within him shine through the sincerity of his eyes and soft voice.
He is a black man in the autumn of his life; and me, I guess most would say I am a white woman in the winter of mine. From high atop the Circus arena looking down, a giant, dark-blue curtain divides two worlds. On the one side of the giant curtain is the crowd; excited by the bright lights and colors theya€™ve come to see. On the other side of the giant curtain, back-stage, are the performers, the animals, the equipment, and staffers who care for them.
At the bottom of the separating curtain, the would-be performers ready themselves to cross into the other world. As the show ends and the rigging begins to come down, a young woman from the audience approaches; she asks if she can look down over the curtain to the back-stage area. In that moment, it occurred to me that I too had prepared at home in private, and then had come to the arena to perform my roles. During my journey home, the numbness was there inside me, and I sat with it feeling and thinking very little; just letting it be there. In those few minutes of deep pain followed by a sacred touch of deep healing, it seemed like my heart expanded and I was finally free of the past.
Now as I lighten my load in preparation for my move across country, it feels so right that this beautiful bed of comfort from my past moves too. At this time of Thanksgiving, the promise of each moment fills my being with gratitude for my transformation from living in a bed of thorns to joyfully sharing a life lived fully.
This week chatting with friends, someone said that I ran on my own time, and I said that I ran on kairos time. On my way home, I remembered that when my children were young, I told them that in order to use a word they needed to know how to spell it and what it meant.
As chronos time passes, I want to be more awake to the kairos time in my life; to be so present in my life that I can feel each moment with clarity and gratitude. To add to my self-judgment, the young woman who had inspired my longing to try stone carving was unexpectedly occupying the table next to mine along with her friend, who was also an accomplished stone carver.
The only thing to do at this point was to begin; the instructor suggested an abstract design as he does for most beginners. The next day it seemed like a good idea to look for photos of abstract stone carvings online. The instructor sent a supportive email, and I returned his email saying that changing my mind was not likely.
Arras is a WordPress theme designed for news or review sites with lots of customisable features. This year as I planned my first shared celebration with family, I was struggling to come up with a way to keep it simple enough for those unfamiliar with my process and still retain its deep meaning for me. My daughter wanted to help me return my rental car early in the day so I didna€™t get a chance to shop to support an idea of celebration I had come up with earlier.
I scattered the small cards on the table in no particular order and invited each of them and then me to choose one. Now as I write here, I am reminded of a Christmas Day long ago when I was wondering how different people with different traditions could possibly find a common ground. My habita€”started with my Mom long agoa€”is to turn it over in the hand of someone nearby to spread the luck of finding it. He speaks out of the stillness and says, a€?It is a blessed day and you are part of that.a€? I agree, shake his hand, and get into my car feeling at peace without further words. The strong Father figure, the older brother, the brother-in-law, the clever science teacher, my first mentor, my first love and my most current loves, my sons and grandsons by blood as well as those adopted within my heart have influenced my physical life in so many ways. First of course is my Mother, who gave me Life and taught me the benefits of caring for my body and my surroundings. When she was a baby, our shared experiences taught me about determination and strength of purpose.
In my Life they have been called friends, but that does not describe who they have been in my Life and how they have shaped my choices.
It has been my choices in response to shared experiences that have shaped my sense of joy and meaning.
When examined closely as states of being, love and fear become each othera€™s opposite, and Lifea€™s energy flows from us depending on which state is most prevalent.
The larger concept includes fear of loss, fear of non-acceptance, fear of loneliness, fear of being blamed, fear of not being special, fear of not being loved, fear of not being able to love, fear of not being enough, fear of our own fear; the list is endless.
Instead of coming to the dam, I found myself about to cross the golf cart bridge at the opposite side of the lake. He taught me the importance of being present and trusting that the experience Ia€™m having with another will be the one we need. One moment they are back-stage sharing and living their lives and the next moment they cross over and become their roles in the bright lights under the big top.
Their faces are bright and concentrated with wonder as they gaze upon the incredible performers as they fulfill their roles. I tell her a€?noa€? because that is my job here high atop the arena where both worlds are visible.
The portrayals of the characters created an environment of real feelings made visible, maybe too visible for me to take in immediately. Compassion flooded my mind and body for all us humans that have harmed each other in ways we have not been able to say out loud; those who have numbed out for fear of feeling more pain than we could bare.
As I let go of the past and live more and more in the present, my bed has found a new home.
It pleases me that one so lovely as this future nurse will share the next chapter of my bed of healing. When asked what that meant, I gave the explanation that I had heard so many years ago and had embraced as my own definition of how I would like to live. If they did both of those things and still felt it was appropriate for their use, I was okay with that. To see the magic of a flower bursting into bloom, to watch the changing of the seasons, to hear the mating call of the owl outside my window, to feel the love of my grandchild as he shares his Halloween candy on Facetime, to feel the energy of my daughter as she prepares dinner in the background, to laugh out loud with a friend, to watch the sunset, to hear excitement in the voice of others, to feel the wind in my hair. As with much of my experience, the story of the stone came first and the wisdom of the stone followed in sometimes painful and sometimes amazing small steps. The next day, with the pressure of performance for others no longer triggering my fears, I set up a permanent workstation in the garage.
My process of co-creation with the stones inspired a poem and became a Mothera€™s Day present for my daughter. Each of us read our part of the prayer out loud: May you have a deep and abiding peace, May your life be filled with wonder and gratitude, May you know the source of well being, May you know joy, May your life be filled with abundance.
It was in an unexpectedly quiet moment after we sat down for dinner that my 2+ years-old grand-son said almost in a whisper, a€?Merry Christmas Grams.a€? He went on around the table wishing all there a Merry Christmas by name. And although there is a summer breeze, the air surrounding him is quiet and filled with calm. The experiences we have shared have triggered within me the need to shrink at times and to grow by leaps and bounds at other times. Our relationship was sometimes contentious, which created in me a need to think for myself and to stand firmly within my choices.
Together we have shared victories and defeats, wins and losses, and have stood together and faced our new futures with strength and resolve; a strength and resolve built on shared experiences and love for each other.
They have listened when I needed an ear, they have been honest with me when I needed clarity, they have called me when I was lonely, they have tolerated me when I was difficult, they have loved me when self-love seemed impossible; their loyalty has been a sustaining force as I make choices that may not agree with the choices of others.
So today, especially for the women who have deeply shared themselves and their experiences with me, I am filled with the shape of gratitude. Now what seems true is that fear of being a victim kept me from the intimacy for which my soul longed. They look for their seats in anticipation of the performers on the high wire; performers who will become clowns, dancers, jugglers, ring masters, animal trainers, etc.
A beautiful young girl becomes a princess carrying the American flag on the back of a giant elephant. On the back-stage side of the curtain there is the intimacy of close friends and family, sharing and contributing their talents to put on the greatest show possible. The performers create their bigger-than-life magic for the center ring and my job is to protect their privacy and their illusion when they return to Life back-stage.
It was amazing to see both sides of the curtain simultaneously and the miracle of transformation of those passing through.
Although Ia€™m not sure what was going on with the others there, inside me was complete stillness and a growing numbness.
The family portrayed was dysfunctional to say the least; it kept many secrets and the only emotions the members seemed free to share with each other were anger and disappointment. Compassion for anyone anywhere that came into this physical existence to become aware of the rage within along with the courage to heal it. No matter how I sought comfort, it seemed I was lying in a a€?bed of thornsa€? and each movement tore at my soul; so many questions and no answers. You may be thinking that all this remembering and romanticizing about a bed is just that; just thinking. She said that chronos time was literally minutes and seconds as expressed on clocks and that kairos time was the time it took an egg to hatch, the time it took a leaf to fall from its branch, and the time it took for a butterfly to come into being. The part of me that gets excited to try new things immediately searched out a a€?class for beginners,a€? or so I thought. My fear of failure was more present than the stone before me, and my mind chatter was pervasive. I would try carving for 30 minutes at a time and see if my patience and energy could sustain that much effort. Earlier when I read that Michael Angelo said, Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it, I knew intellectually what he meant. By opening my heart to the creative process for which I have such deep gratitude, the Universe supported me at every turn.
Our collective energy grew quiet and this collective prayer became my spoken hope for our family and everyone everywhere. My actions in response to those shared experiences have without a doubt had a profound part of shaping who I am and who I am becoming. Without any specific effort, she taught me to sing, to write poetry, to take risks, and to trust that being who I am will serve me best. Perhaps even in disagreement, it is a bond of unconditional love found nowhere else; it is ours. As an adult, she has stood by me with a loyalty supported by one of the most loving hearts I have known. When those choices have created pleasure they have cheered; when those choices have created disappointment, they have stood with me in silence. At other times, we may take on a project from a state of fear to avoid an emotion we dona€™t want to acknowledge or feel; to stay busy. They seem to have permanence, but when observed closely they are filled with cracks and colors created by their adjustments to their environment. Up until this moment, I believed it was because the wind blew my hair as I stood on the hillside. These woods are familiar to me and so I turned and bushwhacked up through the trees back to my well-worn path. He and I are the collective experience of generations raised together separately, and within us both is the deep human need to know that we, all of us, matter. And yet, here we are; two open hearts meeting through the experiences we have in common and our courage to be real in the presence of the other. When I left the arena, I gave thanks for the learning about illusion and intimacy that my visual Circus experience had offered.
There was a residue of heaviness as I got into my car and began the long drive home over the mountain.
It was the story of kept secrets, addictions, betrayals, separations, denials, suicide, and judgments. My heart began to beat harder, faster and my throat seemed closed to the air around me; breathing was difficult.
Our level of healing comes in ita€™s own way and time and catches us when we are brave enough to experience the deeper pain and just be with it. In a flash of wisdom borne out of acceptance for what was not to be, a voice asked me to begin again and I responded.
As it fell from its box, its pieces glistened as the sunlight entered the room and bounced and scattered along its surfaces. Her eyes sparkle and dance like stars filled with the enthusiasm and challenge of her youth. I loved the concept of time described as kairos time, but didna€™t investigate the meaning further. She tried to find it on the Internet without success so I said Ia€™d find it and send her the web link.
Immediately I wanted to feel inside me when and where I had experienced a kairos time moment. The instructor chose a stone for me, which was my first encounter with my fear of not being in control of my experience.
I had my stone, I had my photo idea, and I had determination to make something from this imperfect stone. Now with the intimate experience of sharing and being open to the wisdom of the stone, I understand what he meant with my heart. It was a painful time of self-discovery, and the process of change consisted of many small steps. As I arrived there, I wondered where I had made my mistake; but having a sore knee, thought perhaps I should continue the short distance to the dam and home.
His words sooth something deep inside mea€”perhaps all the wounds of those who have come before me.
Each time since when Ia€™ve met someone for the first time, I have quieted my mind and truly listened. A small young man becomes a high-flying aerialist when moments before he chatted via his cell phone with his girlfriend on the back-stage side of the curtain. Role-playing is fun, exciting, entertaining, and requires support, practice and skill; however, being stuck in the illusion of a role makes intimacy impossible. These actions were stirred together with their suppressed feelings and the result was painful fear turned inward and then outward to rage. There was no place to go and nothing to do except to continue the long drive home in peace and gratitude. She aspires to be a nurse and her warm infectious smile indicated she has the compassion and caring to become a very good one.
The concept of kairos time came back to me often over the years since all the clocks in my house are set to a different chronos time, and I rarely know exactly what time it actually is.
It would be impossible for my finished carving to be good enough to stand up to the surrounding competition.
Although encouraged by the others, my sense of joy at having found the class was as pale as the alabaster stone.
The cleaning of the stone continued during this class and the stone began to have a nice curve about it. In some places it was very hard, some places very crumbly, some places pure white, some places orangey pink. Love of the work and stone replaced impatience and with the stone guiding me, we co-created an abstract shape that is called, Moth to the Flame.
In the stillness, he begins to share that he has stopped on the mountain to pray although he is unsure what that prayer might be.
She was the person most likely to be holding my hand when my very busy Mother had other hands that needed her. Once I discovered through each small step that I could choose what I wanted to create, my Life began to evolve from a state of love more often. It captures the water among its stones and sends the flowing bubbles into the valley creeks of my neighborhood, also called StoneyCreek. Here was the golf course, over here were the mountains, and there was a beautiful old tree. Ita€™s about getting their name right because I care; and because in that very moment, there is something beyond their name that matters. The performers are a€?just beingsa€? in preparation for the roles they will play; most are in old jeans and baggy shirts and jackets. Another slightly older man, who moments before was giving his mom and dad a tour back stage, is now the lead clown contributing his gift of making people laugh to the mix.
Eckhart Tolle once said, a€?I am not a spiritual leader when I go into a coffee shop for coffee or tea, Ia€™m just thirsty.a€? Is there a curtain inside you that does not allow intimacy to flourish because you believe the role you are playing is you? And piece-by-piece, it supported my soula€™s restoration: I slept in it, ate in it, watched TV in it, cried in it, dreamed in it, wrote in it, and laughed in it.
My internal clock is usually quite accurate enough for my purposes, and I dona€™t wear a watch, which pleases me greatly. A moment full of potential when I can go beyond thinking about something to feeling the importance of this moment in my life. As this fearful familiar thought appeared, another thought about it not being a competition was a voice of reason that I could hear clearly. Eckhart Tolle once said, a€?I am not a spiritual leader when I go into a coffee shop for coffee or tea, Ia€™m just thirsty.a€?A Is there a curtain inside you that does not allow intimacy to flourish because you believe the role you are playing is you? As this fearful familiar thought appeared, another thought about it not being a competition was a voice of reason that I could hear clearly.A Great! So without thought, I let a Metta Prayer come through me and wrote a part of it onto each of the five cards. She taught me to accept responsibility, to not whine, and to love deeply in the face of loss and disappointment.
Sometimes it rages in noisy cascades, and sometimes it forms quiet ripples over the stones.
A young mother becomes the center of attention as she commands enormous animals all around her and she sparkles without fear.
I can feel my heart beating and opening again to all the difficult and pleasant moments when I was at a crossroad and took a small step toward growth. My mind leaped to judgments about how I should have been present when others were selecting their stones so I would not be stuck with this less than ideal stone. So as not to get behind, I started carving at home; unskillfully struggling with the stone to make it look like the photo. I spoke briefly about how much this time of year means to me and how in ancient times people built bonfires to remind the sun to return.
He talks about choices and consequences, and my energy quiets in memory of other such conversations.
We take different paths at times, but we meet in the nurturing field of trusting the universal source of Life to sustain us. If we discover fear and do not want to create from that state, we have an opportunity to choose differently? Compassion, a state of love, for the part of me that still fears victimization brings me back again and again to the present moment; the only time and place where choice is possible. Some of the stones are tiny and some are boulders brought down from the mountain during long-forgotten storms. I hold them in my hand, I look at them, I cherish their beauty, and I do not compare them with any other stone I have seen. We tell each other about those we love and what sharing our lives with them has supported us in learning.
One person at a time, we are capable of learning to be comfortable in the present experience regardless of our history, race, or gendera€”that is a huge learning. Looking down as some beings perform in the bright lights of the big-ring and some beings stand ready back-stage awaiting their turn, the elephants, camels, horses, and dogs are brought into the dimly-lighted area and made ready for their curtain calls. My intention was to stay with whatever was occurring in this moment for as long as it took to find compassion for the part of me that feels wounded by acts of past betrayal, my own and othera€™s. There are many thoughts from that time that trigger sadness still, but the sight of that sweet a€?bed of healinga€? continues to stir feelings of joy within me. As she tested it out and smiled up at her Mom, my heart softened with tenderness and joy for the promise such young people represent. In some of those kairos time moments, chronos time stood still and in others, it raced ahead of me and I had to run to catch up.
It wasna€™t working, and after hours of grueling effort and messiness, my frustration level was high.
Added the meaning of Metta (kindness) to the outside of the envelop along with the definition of Namaste (the light in me honors the light in you). We opened the candles Brenda had suggested, and it was a creative process to get them to work.
In him I see no self-pity only acceptance, and he shares how that acceptance has left him in such a peaceful place. This spot of nature is surrounded by a variety of trees that cast their shadows over me and everything else. We are human, we succeed and stumble, we need to feel we are seen for who we are right now, and we need to demonstrate to each other that we matter; and what seems to be my life lesson over and over again, your need is as great as my own.
Some are running toward the dressing rooms, perhaps arriving late and rushing to make their curtain calls. It is my amazing gift to watch both worlds; there is an instant transformation whether the performer is going into his role or coming back.
Even now on cold winter nights, I sometimes take my books and curl up in its softness, fall into a peaceful sleep, and wake restored. I hit the chisel hard with a hammer and a large chip of stone sailed across the porch and away from the curvy part at the stonea€™s top; my design ruined.
One old oak tree, near the edge, anchored in the stoney bank reaches with ita€™s mighty branches toward the creek.
Some are dressed in black so they will be less visible as they come and go between the two worlds in support of the others.
Kairos is pregnant time, the time of possibilitya€”moments in our day, our week, our month, our year or our lifetime that define us. Defeated I laid down the tools, cleaned up the mess, put the stone in the garage, wrote the instructor an email, and quit the class.
The candles were eventually lighted and our circle was formed by our combined effort to make it happen. So I share my love of nature and photography and how I am practicing staying in each moment to find the richness here while grateful for all that has come before and, as much as possible, staying open to whatever the future brings. The hillside behind the creek is eroding red Virginia clay made bare from ita€™s years of withstanding the watera€™s strength and speed. Some are warm, some are round, some are cool, some have deep crevices, and some are so smooth to the touch. In each of their faces I saw a different energy, but the one constant in all of them was their willingness to participate. There is no attempt to a€?fixa€? or get something from each other, we are merely sharing our history or holding space for the other to share.
The time flew by and without my knowing it three hours passed; the stone was beginning to form itself. He says, a€?Me too.a€? I tell him sharing the a€?photo of the daya€? with friends and family adds to my feeling of connectedness. Their body languages are telling their stories, which cannot be heard atop the arena because of the high-energy music that fills the air around and above both worlds.
They brought opportunity for change and I had the courage to embrace them, sometimes with eagerness and sometimes with trembling. The animals seem quiet for the most part from this distance and some of the people are petting them, grooming them, leading them, and seeing that they are made ready for the big center circle when ita€™s time for their performance on the bright side of the curtain. Now and then a doga€™s happy bark floats upward and is heard even at this distance high above them. Without force, without frustration the stone art was taking a shape that was pleasing to my eyes. Sometimes a sharp call or a loud giggle floats upward and fades before crossing the barrier of the curtain.
Kairos moments are a string of moments that possess possibilitya€”clarity brought on often by pain, uncertainty or crisis.
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