Tag Archives | Christine Mason Miller

Be the Light, Everywhere You Go by Christine Mason Miller

CMM_Light3

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
-Edith Wharton

It is hard to know what to do sometimes isn’t it? Especially on days like the one we recently had – oh wait, it wasn’t just one. It has been one after another after another. I’m talking about days when we’re jolted by the lightning flash of a news bulletin relaying the death toll from the world’s most recent terror attack. We hear the news, absorb the CMM_Light2first shocking numbers and then despair as they rise over the next few hours like floodwaters in a basement.

It is easy to feel helpless. How to make a difference in the face of such hatred? How to soften the blow of these particular strains of violence? We aren’t watching news reports from warring nations; we are seeing innocent people attacked while celebrating a holiday, walking to work, shopping at a market, marching for their beliefs and dancing with their friends. What can we, as individuals, possibly do to heal our collective wounds?

I think it comes down to very small things – very tiny acts of compassion, kindness and sincerity. It comes down to the way we move through the world, day in and day out. It is about how we treat our partners, our families and everyone we come into contact with as we go about our days. It is about those details.

At the Brave Girl Symposium last week, one of the many lovely souls I was meeting for the first time  commented on the way I made eye contact with her. She appreciated it in the moment we first met and continued to comment on it over the next couple of days. It is not the first time someone has acknowledged this, and I doubt it will be the last. The intensity of my eye contact is something that has, quite frankly, kind of freaked people out (in a really sweet way) in a variety of situations.

I don’t exactly wake up every morning saying, “I’m going to stare intently into the eyes of everyone I encounter today,” but making eye contact is an intentional practice. I do it with my friends, I do it at retreats I facilitate and I do it in line at the bank. And I find the most consistent reaction I receive in return incredibly fascinating: it startles CMM_Light4people, as if being seen is something they weren’t expecting and aren’t accustomed to. I get double-takes, I get sheepish smiles, I see an immediate softening, I see tears well up.

With so much of our attention gobbled up by mental to do lists, the frightening state of the world and all of our devices, it is easy to walk right by one another without any real acknowledgment that there is a living, breathing human being in our midst. I feel this most acutely in places like drug stores and grocery stores, where I see too many people hand over their debit card and pay for their items without ever looking up at the person who is assisting them. I know we’re all busy and have a lot on our minds, but this is what I mean about small details. We are all busy and have a lot on our minds, so let’s all take a wee moment, even if it is just the space of a single breath, to look one another in the eye and create a real connection.

I talk a lot about ripples of inspiration – about how a single act of kindness or a single step taken toward realizing a dream travels farther than we ever realize. Every single action taken in love, kindness, respect and joy matters. When one person has the ability to wreak havoc on a hundred lives in a single instance, it is the one thousand tiny expressions of light we can shine throughout our days and weeks that will help combat these dark forces.

CMM_Light1

Imagine this: Someone you don’t know and might never know has woken up this morning in despair over his or her life and the world. Perhaps this person looked up to the sky and said, “Please give me a sign all hope is not lost.” Later that day, you end up looking this person in the eye, and there is kindness in your face. You might even say hello.

That could be enough. That could be the sign this person was seeking, assurance that not all of humanity has lost the ability to, well, be human. You might think this is an unlikely extreme, but I’m not so sure. We are all looking for signs. We are all searching for comfort. We are all desperate for evidence that the world is still OK. And we all have the ability to provide such assurances for one another.

What to do in the face of unfathomable horrors? Imagine you are standing in a dark room with no windows. You can’t even see your own hand in front of your face. Now light a match. See how that one small flame lights up the space? Be that light, everywhere you go.

Be that light, and heal the world.

About the Author: Christine Mason Miller

christinemasonmillerChristine Mason Miller is an author, artist and guide who lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Buy her book on Amazon. Go on Retreat .  Join Christine at her upcoming retreat in Ojai with Wild Roots, Sacred Wings.

You can follow her adventures at www.christinemasonmiller.com.

Time to Declare My Word for the Year by Christine Mason Miller

CMM_Altar1

“The first step shall be to lose the way.” -Galway Kinnell

When 2016 arrived, I didn’t ring it in with champagne and party hats. I wanted to sleep more than anything, so I celebrated by going to bed about 9:00pm. 2015 wasn’t a bad year, but it was an intense year, and even though I got a decent night’s sleep as the world said farewell to 2015, I was ready for a nap within an hour of waking up. I’d been CMM_HappyNewYearfeeling that way for weeks, and the first day of 2016 was no exception.

I got sick within a few days, and it was a bug that made itself comfortable in my sinus passages for a solid three weeks. It wasn’t until the end of the month, when I got in my car for the four-hour drive north to Big Sur for a long weekend with seven soul sisters that the exhaustion finally began to lift. I made sure of that by turning the volume up on my sappiest playlist and letting myself cry as hard as I could for the first hour of the drive. (Thanks, Adele!) I was tired of being sick. I was tired of feeling so tired. I was tired of feeling like I was in a constant race against time.

During those weeks of feeling like I was moving underwater, I felt like I was missing out on all the fun everyone was having sharing their word for the year. All that excitement! All that energy! Everyone fired up and eager to make 2016 the best year ever! I was still recovering from 2015 and wasn’t ready to decide what I most wanted to manifest in the wide open space of the new year. What’s my word of the year? I’d ask myself. Nothing. The cursor in my brain just kept blinking idly, a reminder that in this particular endeavor—making a declaration for my life—I was a failure.

Now that we’re almost five months in, I’ve got my word—not because I decided on it once I started to get my mojo back, but because it keeps showing up on days like today, when I wrap up a big project and I automatically ask myself OK, what’s next?

I used to thrive in situations when someone would ask that question, or any variation of it—When is your next show? CMM_PursuitofMagicWhere is your next retreat? What will you write about next? I prided myself on always having an answer. I’d have my next show lined up. My next retreat would already be on the calendar. A book proposal would be waiting in the wings. Being able to confidently, immediately answer the question “What’s next?” meant I was a mover, a shaker, a woman who made things happen. But over time, it also meant I was a woman who was tired, and frequently left wondering why I felt like my time to rest was always just beyond whatever my answer to the question happened to be that day. Right after regaling my listener with all the impressive feats I was about to accomplish, I would—without fail—follow it up with, “And after I finish that I’ll finally have some down time!”

The word that keeps hovering in my periphery is discernment. Defined as the ability to judge well, I see this word drift through my awareness every time the question of what’s next pops up. If “What’s next?” is in neon, “discernment” is like a fog, trying to reduce its harsh glare. It is a reminder to choose carefully, and that the best answer might actually be “Nothing.”

I’ve been having a conversation with someone this week about recognizing that although we are artistic, creative beings we are not, at our core, defined solely by this. We actually do ourselves a disservice by trying to make our sense of well-being and contentment contingent upon this. I can make artwork, organize retreats, and write books and connect to my core or I can do none of those things and still honor my soul and spirit. If my answer to the CMM_bytheshorequestion, “What’s next?” is “Nothing”, I am still me. I am still whole and worthy and enough.

This is where discernment comes in, as a quiet whisper that doesn’t just tell me it’s OK to loosen the reins on my Very Important Things To Do list. It is also letting me in on a secret I am only beginning to understand, which is that by spending so much time and effort keeping my bag of answers to the question of what’s next full, I might actually be missing out on the most potent opportunities to tap into my core, my soul, my deepest sense of creativity, presence, and joy.

I talked about writing the book I just finished for many years before finally sitting down to write it. What was it that compelled me to finally do it? The sound of my own voice saying, “I just have to write this book!” too many times. I decided it was time to either write the book or stop talking about it. That was more than two years ago, and yesterday I sent my book to the printer.

I feel the same way about the proclamation that always punctuates my answer to the question of what’s next, the part about having some quiet time once this is wrapped up or that is finished. I’ve heard myself say it enough times to know it is time for a change. It isn’t about literally doing nothing, but about creating time for myself to explore and see where the wind takes me. If I’m always deciding ahead of time exactly what I want to work on, I’m missing out on all the discoveries that await me on the detours. I’m eager for some aimless wandering. I’m ready to let myself get lost.

About the Author: Christine Mason Miller

christinemasonmillerChristine Mason Miller is an author, artist and guide who lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Buy her book on Amazon. Go on Retreat . Hire her as your Mentor.

You can follow her adventures at www.christinemasonmiller.com.

The Longing for a New Adventure by Christine Mason Miller

christinemasonmiller_desk

I thought I knew what I was going to write about, but as soon as I typed the first words and saw them appear onscreen in perfect synchronicity with the movement of my fingers on the keyboard, my attention took a sharp left Bud_ChristineMasonMillerturn. I found myself inexplicably, surprisingly fascinated by the sensation of having all my thoughts swoop out of my brain, down my arms, and into my fingertips as if the words were swishing down a slide carved out of ice. How could this possibly feel so weird? I mean, I just finished writing a book. Seeing the words inside my head immediately appear onscreen as I type should feel as mundane as buttering toast. Instead, it felt like magic.

I finished writing the bulk of the book earlier this year.

Since then, I’ve been focused on copy editing, fine tuning, and formatting. This last lap to publishing has taken longer than I’d anticipated, one of many surprises the book has had in store for me along the way. I can’t say I had a many specific expectations when I set out to write a memoir about the spiritual journey I’ve taken with my family, but I’ve still experienced one surprising twist after another, all the way up to right now.

One of them has to do with the phase I’m currently in—getting the book ready to be published. I’m getting a small project_ChristineMasonMillerquantity of hardcover editions printed independently for this first round, which won’t be sold or offered to the public. I made this choice for a number of reasons, most especially because my goal was never to write a book so it could be published and sold to the public. My goal was to write the best book I could write, and I knew this could only happen if I kept the entire process out of reach of anyone but myself, a trusted editor I hired at the outset, and a handful of readers along the way.

I know how things go—when a manuscript or proposal is presented to a potential publisher, the powers-that-be may or may not like the way a story is told even if they like the story itself, at which point a conversation begins about how the book can be revised and re-arranged to suit an editor’s vision. I understand this. Book publishers are in the business of selling books, so they want to do everything they can to reach a broad audience.

But, as I said, my goal wasn’t to write a book in order to sell it to a broad audience. I simply needed to write the book, oridinarysparklymoment_christinemasonmillerand I needed to write it in my own way, on my own terms, in my own voice.

A friend recently asked, “What do you think about most when you envision your book being real?” My answer: “That I did what I set out to do: I wrote the best book I could write.”

Which is why I’ve been startled to observe myself dragging my feet on these final steps. I’m so close! The writing is finished! The only items remaining on my to do list are technical and organizational, and I love organizing! So what’s the problem?

There’s no problem, really. It’s just life. It’s a husband, a family, and a dog. It’s houseguests, laundry, and work. It probably also has a lot to do with my own impatience. After spending more than two years writing the book, I just want it in my hands—now. All this in-between work has felt kind of annoying and, in my irritation, I’ve put my book-related tasks on the back burner most of the time. I wrote the book, I think, Shouldn’t that be enough?

Progress has been slow but steady, and I’m having to practice patience, both with the needs of my home and family as well as my own messy, human ways. I haven’t marched boldly toward the end of this journey. I’ve shuffled along, mandala_christinemasonmillercomplaining frequently. And I’ve let myself get easily distracted in an attempt to avoid thinking about all the little things that still need to be done. But today I turned another corner, which has me mapping out a timeline that ends at the actual finish line, the one that involves holding the book in my hands and giving a private reading in our home. Where the book will take me after that is anyone’s guess.

Which brings me back to my wide-eyed reaction upon seeing the words for this story pop up onscreen like tiny, obedient soldiers with perfect posture. I am surprised to discover how much I’ve missed writing. I thought it would be a long while before I’d have the inclination to dive into any new writing projects after finishing the book, but the ideas are already whispering in my ear. And the sensations of taking a thought from my mind and sending it immediately to the page have apparently been missed as well. I feel the pull of this dance—of the clickety-clack of the keyboard, and the creation of a brand new story.

About the Author: Christine Mason Miller

christinemasonmillerChristine Mason Miller is an author, artist and guide who lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Buy her book on Amazon. Go on Retreat . Hire her as your Mentor.

You can follow her adventures at www.christinemasonmiller.com.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes