LITTLE STEPS FOR LITTLE FEET

I am hoping your Thanksgiving holiday was beautiful. Ours brought much delight, good conversation, peace, and memory of Thanksgivings past. We now step gently into the lunar cycle of Gives Praise, the Clan Mother of the 12th moon cycle. How perfect that this new moon begins with a national celebration of giving thanks, or praise, for the gifts the year has bestowed upon us.

I’m going to do a bit of rambling in this blog piece, but if you stick with me, I will be pulling it all together by the end. The title—Little Steps for Little Feet—will provide the container for lots of ingredients/experiences I’ll be adding along the way.

First, as many of you know, I went off of antidepressants just a few brief months ago, after being on one or another for about 20 years. I know that many of my readers suffer from depression, and you’ve asked how I’ve been managing going off medications. It’s been a learning journey, and somewhat of a crooked path, but I’m still stumbling my way along, drug-free. I sense in myself a tendency to be grumpier than usual (I’ve blogged about this recently…), and a tendency, also, to be more emotional than usual—which I really like, as I’ve not had my full range of emotions available to me in 20 years. I’m relearning how to live with them…

My current spiritual quest (see blog entry, THE QUEST) is to teach myself peace and happiness, and to make these attitudes my automatic emotional set point, rather than my current set point of grouchiness, resentment, and overwhelm. I’ve been casting about for simple techniques to help me on this quest, as complex techniques and practices just serve to make me more grouchy, and more resentful. Perhaps some of these little things might be helpful for some of you. Perhaps not. But, I can tell you, it is helpful for me–spiritually and emotionally—to write about them!

One of my little “tools” has been to ask Spirit for help each day in reminding  me that I am not alone. I have a lifelong entrenched habit of thinking I am always alone at the core, and that if anything is to be accomplished in my world, it needs to be me alone that makes it happen. Needless to say, this kind of thinking makes me feel grouchy, resentful, and overwhelmed: Sheesh! I’m all alone here! Dammit! Grumble grumble…

This prayerful request has resulted in me “seeing” in my minds eye a translucent presence on my right side who I am turning to many, many times a day when I feel that old overwhelm coming down. I have not forced this sweet and comforting vision to appear. It seems my prayers conjured her. When I turn my gaze to my right and seek her, she is there, always whispering to me, “daughter.” Her presence is light and affirming.

On Saturday, I went with Carter to a local auction, and while he was bidding on old tools, I took the dogs for a walk into the hills. I asked myself as I walked, “Spirit, what do you want me to notice in the forest today?” Immediately, my eyes rested on the incredible tangle of branches, twigs, and underbrush that I had to fight my way through to keep up with the dogs. “Tangles,” myself told myself, and instantly I felt a grab of discontent in my gut. I did not like the look of them, all gray and confining and full of thorns. Tangles. The notion and the sight filled me with a sense of uneasiness.

So I let the uneasiness just be and wandered about in that mind state for about fifteen minutes. Without my thinking about it, I had turned my feet back downhill, and soon found myself in an open section of forest floor. No more tangles. Just wet, colored leaves under my feet. As soon as I became aware of the easy passage on the smooth forest floor, my whole body breathed a sigh of relief.

I wordlessly asked the presence at my side if there was a message for me. “If you don’t like the tangles, don’t walk that way.” Yes, yes, I know this is simplistic beyond belief, but for me, the most important messages are often simple. They are little and big at the same time. I smiled inside and out. Many times in life, I walk into a tangled situation. Many times, all I really need to do to extricate myself from the mess I’ve wandered into is to simply turn my feet the other way, and walk back out.

This small forest stroll reminded me that I can go to nature anytime and learn something, if I just ask. In those moments of awareness, my depression—which still stalks me—lifted. And I didn’t need to take a pill to keep it at bay.

I’ve picked up and begun rereading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” This morning, his words prompted the title for this blog piece:

Many poets and sages throughout the ages have observed that true happiness—I call it the joy of Being—-is found in simple, seemingly unremarkable things. Most people, in their restless search for something significant to happen to them, continuously miss the insignificant, which may not be insignificant at all…In other words, the form of little things leaves room for inner space, and it is from inner space, the unconditioned consciousness itself, that true happiness—the joy of Being–emanates. To be aware of little, quiet things, however, you need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be present.

So this morning I remember Gives Praise, and in her honor I give praise for all those not insignificant things that open the door to my joy of Being: The clarity of a raindrop on my window in the first blush of dawn. The sound of Carter opening up the creaky door on the woodstove to build our first fire of the day. My favorite red fleece blanket, all wrapped around my body on this cold, cold morning. My fingers tapping out this message to you—all of you—and sending a heartfelt blessing your way.

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10 Responses to LITTLE STEPS FOR LITTLE FEET

  1. mosesinptown says:

    You are not alone.

  2. Yvette Thompson says:

    Congratulations!!!! I am grateful for the beautiful honesty of your writing. Things you’ve shared have made a huge contribution to my happiness. Thank you for role modeling without drugs. Too many are sucked into the games of big pharma… There’s always good reason for feeling the way we do, whether it be “good” or “bad”. Your words have helped me find a lesson in every event, relationship and tiny little thing that grabs attention. And all lessons are worthwhile. Thank you.
    Keep on Dear One.

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Yvette, thank you for your kind words! Also, I just really want to make it clear: I am not against antidepressants. I have a belief that the world is currently so very poisoned and the culture so very toxic, that antidepressants may be the only solution for many people. I would not have survived without them. My psychic pain would have been far too great. I have come off of them for now, and am grateful for each day that I do not “need” them. I may well find in the years/days/months to come that my survival again depends on those drugs. Deep depression is a scary, scary thing…

  3. kathey says:

    Happy Giving Thanks week, to you, Susan, and to Carter and ALL of your pets and forest companions. There is always so much to be thankful for. Every little bitty bit of experience can be a reward if we acknowledge it.

  4. Marie Boissonneault says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you!

  5. danica says:

    So glad you picked up Eckhart, if his words ring true for you it will be a great doorway type book, if you find his words challenging the same message can be found in so many other works, as in nature. I personaly receive Eckhart clearly and although byron katie tells very much a simular “concept”(if I may call it that) i find eckhart more direct. Have you heard any of Byron Katie?
    I am still digesting her words , I do not absorb it as clearly as Eckhart but am allowing it to resonate just as well …my life is and has changed because of them and you Susan, and so many others who have whispered to me to remember so much I already knew. Thank You Susan!

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Danica, I’ve never heard of Byron Katie. I’ve read Eckhart on and off for many years. I simply loved his book, “The Power of Now.” As you said, similar message to many of the great sages, but he puts in in a language that I can easily grasp.

  6. Carter says:

    I call myself a recovering lawyer. My trip through 25 years of practice left me a tired, emotionally drained and lost to the point of leaving the profession. Lawyers in the big city are an angry, untrustworthy bunch.

    Once upon a time lawyers had to be honest because they saw each other again and again. So, they were polite and people of their word. No more, at least where I practiced. And the no more was the end of me. Divorce, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and various other ailments not to be discussed in polite company left me unable to continue.

    It has been 6 years of tiny steps and a loving wife that have brought me out of the void and into the light again, but there are many tiny steps left.

    A former boss told me about eating an elephant. It can’t be done in one sitting, but if taken a bite at a time the feat can be accomplished.

  7. Susan, I believe Eckhart Tolle said that most suffering comes from judgment, attachment and resistance, so I keep a sticky note labelled JAR on my desk. When I find myself going in one of those three directions I stop and ask myself “Why have you opened this JAR?” I’m amazed at how powerful the call of the JAR can be, especially resistance…a challenge for this former New Yorker!

  8. Perhaps your guide should meet my guide. Mine calls me “Child” and for many years more descriptively, “Little Burro.” Still in Vet Medicine, going on 38 years. But my best and latest teacher is my Arab stallion, Pyro, that I ride in endurance and who continues to make me a better rider, horsewoman and person. Just happened to think of you while meditating and found you here. Truly, if we examine the surface of our lives, there’s much to be discouraged by. But every deeper, closer look brings miracles to wash them away whenever we allow. Keep it going, girl!

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