They came knocking again, well not really knocking. I’m not sure what their energy is. Palpable in a subtle yet obvious way. I can usually hear Gracie snoring in the other room – they awaken me with the words and ideas but not her.

The thoughts seem so loud. How does one go from deep REM sleep to wide awake with creative thoughts flowing so quickly? So loudly? Where is this coming from? Loud. Fast. Prolific. Insightful.

Ideas and concepts.

Proposals and pitches.

My book series, my memoir. A poem.

Titles of articles that elude me during the day will show up.

It’s always 3:18 a.m. Right on time.

The Spirit world is closer to us between the hours of 3 and 4 a.m. Musicians and creatives often sing and write about 3 a.m., it’s called the bewitching hour by some because the barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds is at its thinnest. Is this Spirit showing up?

At 3:18, there is no ego spreading its insecurities or doubts. There aren’t any negative or self-limiting thoughts. There are no judgments of myself or others, there are no hurtful words, people or news. This feels like peace, like a hug. It feels like love – the non-human, unconditional variety. They come at 3:18 to fill me with words and insight and inspiration.

I changed my bedside journal to one that doesn’t have lines or my preferred dot grid to make it easier to decipher my sleepy writing the next day. The ideas are so out of the box; words I’ve never used or written during the day show up in my journal overnight. How can I write a word at 3:18 and have to look up its definition the next day?

The message from friends and intuitives continues to consistently be, “think bigger.” I’m trying to learn how. Is Spirit trying to show me how when I am at my most open – when my physical barrier is the most penetrable?

This isn’t insomnia. This isn’t anxiety or fear. I’ve experienced all of those. This is different. This is welcome. It feels surreal – like a reflection in the water that seems so real you have to touch it to remind yourself it’s not. Yet, there is a clarity in that image and an innocence in that experience. I wait for the reflection to return to the water and touch it again.

It’s not every night, but when it happens it’s always 3:18. I don’t even look at the time anymore I just take my pen and I spill out the messages in gratitude – almost like a secret code that I get to decipher the next morning. I write the words but it doesn’t feel like it’s coming from me. Or is it? Who am I? Who is anyone? It’s all empty – that I know, but it’s still hard to grasp sometimes.

I wonder what I’m becoming? At a time when people are isolated and unhappy, alone and lonely struggling with all they can’t do, why am I feeling more connected? I go to sleep at night wondering if tonight will be the night they’ll come. My journal is ready. I’m learning to listen to the sounds of the silent night.

~ Haven

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

I grew up in the south. Southwestern Virginia, to be exact. I had family who lived in Appalachia, I knew people who had moonshine in their bathtub and hound dogs under the porch. It was not highfalutin, fancy living but it was stunningly beautiful and people were good to one another. We said “y’all” and if the grownups weren’t listening we said “ain’t” but we quickly learned to trim the ‘at’.

Ending a sentence in a preposition is considered informal but it’s not grammatically incorrect. It is, however, a bit like taking some nice grammar-like fingernails and running them down a chalkboard. It’s time to trim the ‘at’, because while it’s technically ok – it’s redundant. And redundancies are not not helpful. In fact, redundancies in the the written and spoken word can be be so distracting that they they will minimize and undermine your your message and could make some some question your capabilities capabilities.

A few days ago I got a chuckle out of an online instant message conversation with a colleague. We laughed (more accurately, we shared laughing emojis) about our internal response to very popular phrases. We laughed at our bias. She recoils whenever someone says they’re going to “ping” her and I try not to break out in hives when someone says they’re going to “circle back”.

We all use catchphrases that probably send others reeling but the increasing use of the word ‘at’ by well-educated people everywhere when it’s not necessary is, at best, puzzling. ‘At’ is everywhere. I hear it on the news, I’ve read it in otherwise formal business proposals and in real estate contracts. My online yoga instructor – an intelligent young entrepreneur – utters over and over, “this is where we’re at”, “this is where your shoulder should be at in relation to your knee.”

Folks, we don’t need the ‘at’ – it’s not doing anyone any good. We didn’t need it in the boonies of my youth and we don’t need it in modern society. You can always stop at the word before – enjoy your drop the mic moment one word sooner and save the energy. “This is where our team is at.”, can easily be trimmed to, “This is where our team is.”  “Where is he at?” can be trimmed to, “Where is he?”

For someone who was reared in a downhome, folksy region of the country that isn’t necessarily known for its command of formal language, I learned that if I asked, “Where’s Granddaddy at?”, the response would be 100% of the time, “Behind the ‘t’”. The message sunk in. I learned to trim the ‘at’. It’s time we all did.

Make in meaningful,

~ Haven

A little over 10 years ago or so, (I’ve lost track of the time), I opened up a formal-looking letter addressed to me. It was sent from Edward Jones, the financial investment firm that employed my husband and where my savings were invested. On that day, standing in the kitchen trying to make sense of a nonsensical letter, my life changed forever. Today, I can write about it without shaking or crying or feeling the anxiety in my stomach that for years brought me to my knees, that for years I was too embarrassed to talk about.

The letter was direct and to the point. Apparently, the loan I had taken out on margin…or something along those lines…was due. I owed $3,000. I had no inkling as to what that meant because for years all statements and correspondence had been sent directly to his office – he was driving. Nothing made sense but over the course of the next few hours, I learned. My financial advisor husband had embezzled every penny I owned and not only that, but he had also started to gamble on margins and lost. Not only was my life savings gone, I owed money.

That day, my life as I knew it changed forever. I had worked since I was 16 years old and at age 48, realized I was penniless.

Today, I sit enjoying a pot of tea and a combination of wisdom and vulnerability with a large serving of gratitude for everything I’ve been through. See, today is my birthday and as I sit savoring my tea, I’m looking out of the window watching the native Magpies squawk in the pine trees by the coyote fencing – the popular natural fencing seen throughout northern New Mexico.

Two years ago I was here celebrating my birthday on a retreat. I knew without any doubt that I would be living here eventually. I didn’t know when or how but I knew because I was somehow in the process of making it happen. I lived with forgiveness in my heart and a level of understanding and acceptance that while I couldn’t quite explain, I could certainly feel. My life was and is filled with love and levity.

I had always known my life was own – just like all of our lives are – but I had sat in the passenger seat for far too long. I think that can happen to a lot of women in our culture and in some ways, I had always abided by those rules. I was supposed to sit in the passenger seat and so I did. But no more. I had started to drive and was in full command of my steering wheel. That meant making mistakes because I hadn’t driven in a long time. I bumbled words, was loyal to the wrong people and attracted others who hardly had respect for themselves, much less me. But, I kept driving and I started to get the hang of it. I turned a corner and another one and another one after that.

Perhaps the biggest change was that I stopped wishing for my dreams to come true, and started living a life that was true to my dreams. That meant moving away from certain people and things that weren’t in alignment with my dreams.

That seemingly slight change in perspective coupled with my ability to forgive myself for trusting my husband helped me to start realizing my dreams. Yes, you read that right. My challenge was not so much in forgiving my former husband, my challenge had been to forgive myself. It took a while. In order to be able to forgive, you have to be able to accept and that was a big hole in the road for me. But finally, I stopped falling into the same holes. I still tripped and sometimes I fell but it was because I was moving forward, it was because I was learning a new way to be. I started to see those cracks and holes in the road – the ones that didn’t serve me – and I learned to navigate around them. The thing is, there will always be obstacles and challenges, but I’m driving now which makes them easier to recognize.

The Magpies have settled down and my tea pot is nearly empty. The bright blue sky outside of my northern New Mexico home summons. I’ve got a birthday to enjoy and a Universe to thank. Shit happens in life to all of us. Life isn’t fair. No one, regardless of the packaging, is immune to the human condition. Some live with more privilege than others but in many ways that privilege is its own obstacle. But, regardless of our position in life, we can take over the wheel and drive. We can stop hoping and wishing for our dreams to come true and we can start living lives that are true to our dreams.

It may not be your birthday today, but maybe today becomes your day to stop your wishing and hoping that dreams will magically come true and start living a life that is true to your dreams.  Because that’s when they come true.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven

Dear ________,

Just a note to tell you how well you’re doing. You’re listening to me and allowing me to sway you. I love that you’ve allowed me to take over your life. Sometimes I even keep you up at night and that makes me feel downright badass.

And isn’t it fun that you pretend you don’t even know it’s me under the surface? Well, ok, perhaps you don’t know that I’m in charge, you’re so distracted maybe you’ve not noticed. For me, that’s even better. It’s like you’d rather me be in charge of your life than you!

And you, bless your heart, filling your schedule and needing to be busy, busy, busy – we both know it’s because you don’t want to be alone with me. When you’re alone, you seem more aware of me and as long as you keep doing what you’re doing, I’m not going anywhere.

So don’t worry. Stay busy, fill your schedule, deflect and deny. Keep putting things off until another day. You can act like you don’t want me around but I can tell you do. You’re not willing to get rid of me and why should I leave? I own you. I’m relentless and in charge. I can’t be slept away. You can’t drink me away either. You think you can ‘busy’ me away – how endearing that you think I’d start to fade just because you fill every waking moment with distractions. Who do you think keeps you up at night, Cupcake? It’s like you think you can ignore me away. That’s not a thing you know. I won’t magically disappear just because you want me to.

I think it’s cute how you move away from pain more than you move toward pleasure. You don’t even know what that means – not really. It’s because you’ve not gotten to know pleasure yet because you’re too busy trying to dull the pain. You think pleasure comes from dulling the pain. I think y’all call that the human condition – well, the ones who know about that sort of thing. See, you’ll put more effort into dulling that sadness and loneliness you carry around than you will trying to get to the core of why you feel that way. It’s probably someone else’s fault anyway – I mean come on, your life isn’t your responsibility. If you’re feeling something uncomfortable it must be because someone did you wrong! Just keep that mindset and I’ll always be right here with you. You’re doing great.

Sometimes though it’s almost like you don’t want me around. You know, when you close and tighten and shutter your hatches, trying to be guarded and brave – like you’re trying to get rid of me but then I realize – you’re not locking me out – all you’ve done is lock me in!

I know you don’t really want to get to know me and learn why I’m here and that is so reassuring to me. I don’t want you to know too much about me. The less you know about me the better, that way you and I will be together for a long time. Stay in the darkness, Cupcake…you don’t want to start asking questions that might make you feel a feeling, would you? I mean, don’t you humans prefer the pain you know rather than venturing into the unknown?

Everyone talks about reaching out these days – y’all are so funny sometimes with the, “sounds good” and “I’ll reach out”; I sometimes have to work at not laughing out loud. But you’re doing great. Please keep it up. Those silly distractions and empty words are like belly rubs to me. You keep “reaching out” because the day you start “reaching in”, and wanting to know who I am and where I came from, I’m in trouble and we wouldn’t want that now would we?

Sweet dreams, Cupcake.

Signed,

The Fear That Lives Inside You

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash