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Lessons From Ganesha

When packing up my desk on my last day before retirement, I scooped up a small statue of Ganesha. He had been placed there many years before, in such a way that he was continually in my line of sight.  I’ve always felt drawn to Ganesha, although I wasn’t sure why.  Maybe it was the elephant head, the cute rat at his feet or that he always looked so happy.  I knew a bit about his attributes so when I felt like obstacles were constantly being thrown in my path, professionally and personally, turning to Ganesha for some much needed help just felt right.

If you are not familiar with Ganesha, he is the Hindu God of success, wealth, the remover of obstacles, and on the flip side, can place obstacles in your path should you become vain and overly ambitious.  He is called upon when beginning any new venture, such as a new project or business.  Unbeknownst to me before I began writing this blog,  he is also seen as the patron of authors.  How cool is that?

Ganesha sat there on my desk, day after day, looking out over the chaos that was my work life.  I would silently talk to him, asking that he move the obstacles in my path so I could move ahead, get out of my current job, become the writer and witch I needed to be.  He would sit there, smiling, his eyes seeming to sparkle, but he never answered.  Or so I thought.

One particularly bad day I excused myself and went into the restroom.  Seeing that no one else was there, I entered a stall and promptly began to cry.  Not just a little, but big gut wrenching sobs. Ganesha, I thought, why did I feel blocked at every turn?  Why did I feel so bad, so stressed, so done? I wanted, no needed, to be out of that place but I kept hitting a proverbial brick wall.  Suddenly a picture of a caricature me flashed before my inner eye.  In the vision I stood, trowel and mortar board in hand, in front of a tall red brick wall. Slowly my cartoon self looked up just as the bricks began to break free from the highest point of the wall.  They fell, cartoon style, on my head as a dialog balloon popped up, filled with $%&* (cartoon cursing). My tears dried up and I began to laugh.  Loudly, nearly hysterically.

Drying my eyes and composing myself, I exited the stall, realizing that I’d just received a rather poignant, if not comical, message.  The world wasn’t giving me obstacles, I was building them myself.  Wow, talk about an “AHA” moment. I’d been looking at the big picture all wrong.  The obstacles weren’t something that the Universe had placed in front of me, they were of my own making.  I sent up a silent “thank you” to Ganesha and went back in to work.

Sitting down at my desk and smiling at the happy statue once again in front of me, I jotted down what had just happened. I did my best to identify those obstacles I’d built and then some ideas on how I would go about demolishing my obstacles.  Needless to say the list was quite lengthy.  Once finished, I felt an incredible weight lift off of my shoulders. I had a list and a plan. As any Virgo knows, those two things are what get us off our butts and moving forward. Every. Single. Day.

That evening, list and plan in hand, I began taking that edifice down brick by brick.  It took several weeks, a lot of research, number crunching and soul-searching, but cracks began to appear in the wall. When all was prepared I sat down for a long talk with the husband, four different spreadsheets in hand, each with a different scenario and budget carefully planned out.  I was going to retire – not quit – my current job, and write and teach full time. He looked them over, picked one, and my wall tumbled down.

Since I have retired Ganesha has received an honored place on my bedroom altar, the altar I look to every morning.  He reminds me to be careful of what I am building in my life.  Do my plans keep me happy, my options open and energy flowing? Or have I become the architect of a new wall, constructing another obstacle to once again trap myself in a situation or place I could have easily moved around? I am hoping I have learned my lesson and retired my trowel and mortar for good. If not, I know Ganesha is there, ready to teach me another lesson in obstacle demolition.

Blessed Be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Garden of Possibilities

Spring comes early to California’s Central Valley.  When other states are knee deep in snow, our temps are mild, usually in the mid 60’s and rarely going below 36 at night.  By Valentine’s Day our corner of the globe explodes in color. Trees of every variety burst into blossom filling the air with a heady scent.  It is then that almond orchards are covered in “Central Valley snow”, their snowy white blossoms stretching as far as the eye can see. It truly is a spectacular sight.

This is one of my favorite times of year.  It is the time when the garden calls, beckoning me to come and play.  Seriously, I get giddy just thinking about it. My garden is my playground, my sanctuary, and my local therapist all rolled into one wonderful, but not very large, piece of heaven. With trimmers and trowel in hand I answer the call, ready to clear away the winter debris.  Dead branches and foliage are trimmed, the leaves that have not already become mulch are cleared out of pots and garden beds.  As I trim and clean,  my mind, my very soul begins to clear itself of the winter doldrums. The dirt under my nails and the mud on my pants is better medicine to my being than any drug could ever be. Each bucket of decaying matter, each tender shoot that is uncovered, lets my mind and heart open once again to the possibilities of the new season ahead of me.

If you garden, you know that a good portion of what you do is all about the possibilities.  You plant a seed, give it water and fertilizer ever knowing that there is a distinct possibility that it may never germinate. Or perhaps a bird may eat it or an unseasonal cold snap may end its tentative life.  It may thrive, poking its tender head above the soil, only to be eaten by a ravenous snail or earwig.  Yet we continue to plant, for the wonder, for the joy, for the possibility of a gorgeous row of happy-faced pansies or a deep green summer squash. We understand the risks involved but are willing to put in the work, take the chance, all for the reward of a red, ripe tomato for our summer salad.

Possibilities.  Life, like the garden, is all about the possibilities. Each idea, each dream we have is a possibility, calling to us like the garden to come out and play, to take a chance on making it grow. We have to work on these ideas and dreams,  give them enough energy, food and water so they may grow properly.  In the process of growing our possibilities into realities we are going to get sweaty and dirty. We will need to get down on our hands and knees and pull out the weeds of doubt that threaten to strangle our garden. Just like the tender plant that stretches towards the sunshine, gaining strength with its warmth, we too must make sure that there is enough light, enough energy, to see our ideas come to fruition.  We must be vigilant, monitoring them as they grow. We may need to adjust the amount of water so that they do not drown in worry, or be parched by the heat of our fears. An occasional sprinkling of the fertilizer of a new discovery or a different way of looking at our ideas, will help them thrive. On occasion we may need to pinch back the stray tendrils of thought, the runners and branches that stray from the garden plot, before they take us off task and disorder our garden. We work, we prune, we shape and we feed our plants, our ideas, our dreams, until that day when we walk out and can revel at the glorious garden we have created.

Once our plants, our possibilities have grown to maturity, our work is still not done.  We have to harvest those fruits, prepare them for the table, put them to use.  We could gorge on our success, letting the juice of attainment drip down our chins like a red, ripe, strawberry. But that is fleeting, an act of momentary self-gratification.  Instead we should strive to preserve our bounty, make the moment last. While we can’t make jelly out of our realized ideas and dreams, we could “can” them. Using the tools of social media, journaling, a new Etsy store or a published novel, they are preserved, allowing us to savor them when winter once again brings its chilling winds and waning light.  As our garden slumbers, awaiting the spring, and with it new possibilities, we shall be able to look back on our accomplishments with pride and gratitude for the garden that brought them forth.

As spring bursts forth in your piece of this glorious world, listen for the call of the garden. For it is there you will find your possibilities.  Whether it may be a physical garden or the garden of your mind, it is there you can find the joy of planting, nurturing and harvesting your own plants of possibility. May they grow beyond your wildest dreams.

Blessed Be!