Commitment to the Journey

Today’s topic as we continue through the book Opening the Gates of the Heart : A Journey of Healing is commitment to the journey.

We see the stairs in the image, ascending, beckoning us to climb. The verse that accompanies this photograph is “Each step leads further in my journey, offering repeated opportunity to examine myself, my life – the leaves that have fallen, the leaves that will fall, and the buds yet to form.”

This portion of the verse suggests that we show commitment to the journey by continually looking at ourselves and our life, noting past and present circumstances and events, while remaining open to future situations that we can examine as they occur. 

We just notice; we do not judge. Instead, we assess our behavior and actions, our thoughts and beliefs. Are they kind and loving, compassionate and tolerant? We look with honesty and an open heart and mind, both of which we have previously elected to practice in order to keep us sober.

Then, we commit to the journey despite hard times that may come, for they shall come. That is just how life is. It presents us with difficulties from which we can learn and grow.

“Once begun, I commit to the climb, for despite rocky and smooth times that I will encounter, the journey’s reward is in each blossom and each leaf along the way.

What do I mean by the second stanza of the verse, that the journey’s reward is in each blossom and leaf along the way? I mean that it is the simple things that occur in our lives that are the rewards as we travel through life. We will find great pleasure in noticing the blossoms and leaves as we journey.

There is no “destination,” no end point to which we travel, other than death. Rather, if we notice the small and simple things that occur in our lives on a continual basis, we will gain fulfillment. We just have to make a commitment to the journey.

How do you demonstrate commitment to the journey? Do you notice the leaves and blossoms along the way, or are you hurrying too fast, on your way to a destination that when you get there, leaves you feeling empty and incomplete? I would suggest you slow down and notice the little things that abound all around you. That will further your goal of reaching peace of mind. That will help to keep you sober. 

 

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Life Is A Journey – Join The Journey of Life

What does it mean to join the journey of life? What is the journey anyway? I use that term to include the series of events and experiences that occur in our life as we go about living it, from day to day. In that definition is the inclusion of living a spiritually-based life, believing in some force greater than yourself that keeps the “ball” rolling.

For me, it also includes committing to a journey of sobriety, of living life according to principles of living without drinking, living a better life in my head, being a better person in the world. It involves adopting ways of treating myself and others, such as with tolerance, respect, and love. It embraces a life filled with behaviors such as forgiveness and compassion.

When I say join the journey of life, I refer to taking on the challenge to be involved in our lives… the leaves that have fallen, the leaves that are grown, and the buds yet to form. Life is a journey – climb the stairs and join it.

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Carolyn CJ Jones is the author and photographer of the book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. More about the book can be seen above under “The Book,” or in the videos on the sidebar. “About Me and My Work” above reveals more about her. Carolyn is now offering limited edition professional prints, either as prints, matted, or framed which can be viewed above. February’s limited edition print is Visions of Gratitude.

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Commit To Your Journey

Commitment of Journey

“Each step leads me further in my journey, offering repeated opportunity to examine myself, my life – the leaves that have fallen, the leaves that will fall, and the buds yet to form.”

This is a portion of the verse that accompanies the image of this gate. The verse goes on to say that, despite the rocky or smooth times, one commits to the journey, which is in each blossom and each leaf along the way.

In other words, it is in what we discover along that way that holds the journey, not the destination. The destination is not the journey. If we choose to look at the journey itself as the be-all and end-all, life takes on a different tone, a different flavor. Suddenly, we are able to see things in our environment with great wonder and awe. We become more aware of the buds forming in our life as we focus on our journey.

It becomes a commitment, a choice, to look at and live in the moment, soaking in what is around us right now. It continues, for we have liked it so well, we thirst for more.

We become accustomed to examining ourselves… our actions, behaviors, the ways we have treated people, and the things said to them. This is an on-going and never-ending action that one learns to do in sobriety. It keeps us abreast of how we treat ourselves and others. Armed with that knowledge, we make the choice to  set things right, perhaps adjust our behavior and thoughts. It leads to greater harmony, respect, and tolerance. It leads to peace.

We commit to this as a way of life, along with seeing the buds and leaves along the way, along with living in the moment, living in this 24 hours. We look at the leaves that have fallen… the past… as it relates to moving us forward. We revisit the past to reflect, to heal, to grow. We use it to keep ourselves moving forward, in the moment.

How does the commitment to your journey manifest? Do you commit to living in the moment, to performing a daily self-inventory? How does this work for you?

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As the author and photographer of her book of wrought-iron gates and accompanying prose, it is said by others that Carolyn CJ Jones’ book offers inspiration and empowerment to those in transition, to those souls in the corner who struggle. View the video about the book, which is located to the right of this blog. Buy the book from Carolyn’s website -receive free shipping and your personally autographed copy.

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Learn to Live with Gentleness

bed of gentle“Bed of Gentleness”

“Oh, could we not treat ourselves with great gentleness as we go through life learning, growing, healing? Would we then be more gentle with others, too?”

I was prompted to write this as a plea to myself and others during the time I was doing my self-searching. I began to notice the harshness of the people around me. At the grocery store, for example,  I noticed parents speaking to their children roughly, with nasty words. No gentleness. I noticed wives, speaking to their husbands with disdain. No gentleness.

Although I was able to identify a lack of gentleness in interactions around me, it took me several years into sobriety to see that I was treating myself the very same way that the parent treated their child in the grocery store – harshly, with nasty words. I was able to see the lack of gentleness “out there,” but not “in here.”

I began to notice that the way I treated myself slowed down my healing and growing processes. If I’m healing from something which wounded me, for example, being harsh with or belittling myself, etc., does not help me as I try to heal from the original wound. That is just heaping more abuse upon the experience, which hinders the healing process.

If I talk to myself gently, however, it promotes the learning and growing. I feel more safe inside myself. I have recently learned to speak gently from within. It took much practice. I had to consciously think about it, remind myself, catch the times I was talking badly to myself. Over time, good self-talk is gradually replacing bad.

Why all this talk of myself? Isn’t that just a bit self-absorbed? Ah, but you see, I have found on my journey that the more gentle I am with myself, the more gentle I am with you. The more I love myself, the more I can love you. Isn’t that what this is all about, after all?

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Commitment of Journey

commitment of journey“The gate stands open, beckoning me to climb.

Each step leads further in my journey, offering repeated opportunity to examine myself, my life – the leaves that have fallen, that leaves that will fall and the buds yet to form.

Once begun, I commit to the climb, for despite both rocky and smooth times that I will encounter, the journey’s reward is in each blossom and each leaf along the way.”

The second two stanzas were written in my journal a few years into sobriety. The gate showed up a couple of years later. To join the two, I wrote the first line after I discovered that this prose fit this image.

I never knew what a journey was. I did not hang around with people who spoke of their journey. All I knew was I was anxiously flitting from one activity to the next, looking for the one that would make me happy, bring me peace. It was always the end result which was my goal.

At some point in my sobriety, I slowed down and began to learn what a journey was. I became aware of how to examine myself, my life, and I began to write about this. I learned to slow down more, to notice the events and experiences that were occurring. I began to understand what people meant when they said that a journey is not a destination, but the process along the way.

Over the years, I have gone through a process of healing from emotions such as fear, sorrow, despair. The healing has allowed me to experience enjoyment of the process. I have learned, over time, to notice and appreciate “… each blossom and each leaf along the way,” along my path.

Sometimes the experience is difficult. It helps if I remember that there is a lesson to learn that I can use for my healing, my growth. I remember that the bad experience will move me forward to greater peace and joy, which I have experienced in my journey. Sometimes, I forget this…

Still, I commit to this journey, my journey, because I have experienced the rewards, the beauty in my life when the buds bloom.

What are the buds blooming in your life, along your journey?

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Welds of Honesty

Welds of Honesty“I look at the ways in which I treat myself and others. Can I allow myself and others to see what I find, to see who I truly am?

Perhaps, if I let go of the parts that do not serve me, I can weld my being with honesty. I can weld a secure and solid structure of great strength, on which I can build my Self.”

This is the prose which appears in the book with this image, Welds of Honesty. I wrote these words in my journal a few years before I saw this gate in Taos, New Mexico. I took the picture, only because I thought it had great character. It wasn’t like I was searching for a gate with welds… Later, the words and image just came together.

In my life, I have learned to be honest, to not steal, to own up to a mistake I’ve made. I have prided myself on my level of honesty. It was not until I entered recovery, however, that other forms of honesty were presented to me…. being honest with myself about who I am and being honest with others about who I am.

Boy, these concepts of honesty were foreign to me. The thought of looking at who I am was intimidating and scary, made me uncomfortable. I had spent the better part of my life trying to hide who I was, to be invisible. I certainly didn’t let you see who was inside, for fear of rejection or ridicule. I would please you at all cost to myself and, perhaps, even to you. Now I was being asked to look at honesty from a new perspective. I had to become willing…

What I have found on my journey, is that being honest about who I am is difficult. It has meant getting in touch with all the negative things I say to myself about myself. That evoked a lot of feelings I needed to examine. Then, it involved giving up those negative self-comments, the beliefs that I was a failure, not worthy. These thoughts are not honest about who I am.

Yet, even though detrimental to me, I have continued over the years with this thought process because it was familiar. Again, it has taken willingness to change my behavior, my thoughts. And it has involved a great deal of prayer. The reward is a sense of peace inside, an acceptance of myself and all my points, including the good ones, as well as the bad.

Once comfortable with who I am, I can be open with you about who I am. It’s been magic for me the way that works…

In what ways are you dishonest about who you are? How do you achieve a level of honesty?

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Offer of Trust – for Self, Others and the Divine

A way is presented. The gate stands open ever-so-far, beckoning. The path looks inviting, enveloping. Our eyes travel to the top of the path; we cannot see where it leads, cannot see what is up there. Hesitation occurs. And still, a way is presented, steadfastly.

Do you follow the path when you don’t know where it will lead, when you can’t see what is ahead? Do you trust your instincts, accept the invitation, open the gate which stands ajar and walk through? Perhaps your belief in the Divine and your trust in that entity enables you to travel and open yourself to the unknown. Maybe your belief permits you  to trust others and yourself.

Or, perhaps, you allow fear to stand in the way, thwarting your attempts to traverse the path, to open up to others, to a higher power, to yourself.  When you have opened yourself to any of these, have you been disappointed, sorrowful, hurt, thus rendering you incapable to trust the next time?

The second example was me for most of my life. I was constantly trying to trust, only to continually experience disappointment, hurt and sorrow. With a higher power, I could trust only so far and then I felt I needed to watch my back, to take charge.

During my journey in sobriety, it was suggested that I notice each time when the forces of the Universe were acting in my best interest, when things turned out better than I had planned or imagined.

So, I became willing to take this advice and began to gain trust that something was taking care of me because situations did, indeed, turn out better than I’d thought could happen. Over time, my trust in the forces of the Universe, a higher power, the Divine, God, or whatever you choose to call that force, grew slowly. Trust has evolved.

As far as trusting others, I have learned I need to lower my expectations. Then, I am pleasantly surprised when something happens. I have difficulty with this, so have much opportunity for practice.

Trusting myself has become easier; yet, it was difficult for a long period. I began to notice the times when my intuition was” right on” in a given situation. That gave me courage to trust myself in the next instance. Gradually, I lowered the expectations I hold for myself and learned to forgive myself when I was not trusting. I am getting much better at this. Again, it’s practice.

As the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band says, “They’re all practice.”

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