Posted by Deven P-Shah on Jun 7, 2016
We are all blessed and nurtured with smile of our Awakin Calls coordinator Anne Veh.
How exciting opportunity to have Anne join as a guest speaker on a very special Awakin Call!
Our moderator, Audrey started the conversation asking Anne about her childhood. We learned about Anne’s inner sanctuary and how it planted seeds of resilience…
Anne: Maybe the images that come to me when you ask that question -- what comes to me in my childhood I go right back to our childhood home in Los Gatos where we lived for 13 years. My mom had this beautiful garden and the garden has always been -- actually became a refuge -- I didn't realize how important the garden was to me until probably when I was in elementary years. But at the beginning I was so blessed -- my first teacher in school was Betty Peck and she, as you know, is 94 and just a source of love and still living in the same home and the garden when I was in her class as a 6 year old. I remember her so vividly going to school in the morning. She would always be dressed in this beautiful long skirt and her hair would be up and she would have this beautiful white blouse. She just had this welcoming -- like you come in and her arms would be open and there was this welcoming. She always played the zither and music and everything was just magical. And even though it was a public school, and there wasn't much greenery around, she found the beauty in everything. She would take us out into the weeds and teach us about wheat and how the importance of making bread and how to make bread. She just found beauty in everything. As I reflect back on my childhood I feel so grateful that she planted those seeds in me because when I look back "I think, wow, my refuge has really been in the garden and in nature." And in 5th grade I had a very difficult year. Many things happened, and things happen, they kind of happen all at once. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. And at that point the doctors diagnosed her as terminal cancer. And my beloved 5th grade teacher had passed away unexpectedly one morning and it was just devastating to me. I felt like I had lost a group of friends I was with. All these different events happened and it was the first time I felt really alone in the world.
Anne: It was a really difficult time but what I realized is there was something inside me that told me I’m going to be okay, everything's going to be okay. I found an inner resilience that was -- I realize now it was a gift even though it's hard to live through difficult periods. There was also this knowing that I knew inside that I don't know somehow it was going to be okay and I was protected. And going in the garden was a place where I would go and I would spend hours. My chore at home was to water the garden. So I delighted spending hours in our garden. And we didn't have big gardens. There were boxes of different beautiful flowers; my mom had a vegetable garden. We had an old, old, old apricot tree which we'd make apricot jam. Even though it was maybe quarter of an acre but it felt like it went on forever and ever.
On the question what is the source of smile Anne brings to all every day of her life…
(Excerpts from call transcript...)
Anne: Yeah, you know you say I have smiling eyes and I remember you shared with me, Audrey, that Min had shared in a circle what was behind my smiling eyes and my answer was "pain." It's so interesting when life brings challenges to you. I realized that -- I don't know if I realized when I was young but I realized as I've gotten older that there are beautiful opportunities. Another teacher I look to that I never met is Peace Pilgrim. I love her writing, I really feel moved by her. Her inner knowing to take that … to be able to walk for peace, and to know that it was just something that she had to listen to and surrender to… Through our lives we learn to surrender in different ways and different challenges will invite that surrender. I kind of look at challenges as "Okay, what am I going to learn -- okay this is a learning, this is a teaching -- [laughter] Even though it's uncomfortable, okay bring it on here I am.
How inspiring seeds of embracing life for all that it brings with spirit of learning from it.
Anne has been working very actively with youth. We got priceless nuggets on that from her.
Anne: I love being with youth because they're so vibrant, they're life force that is so beautiful and when you're with a child and especially when it's in that circle, the most sacred space of their trust and there's openness, they'll invite you into their heart and you into theirs and there's nothing like that.
Anne share with us one more secret to her smiley ways - keeping a sense of gratitude.
(Excerpts from the conversation ...)
Anne: I'm grateful to noble friends. I'm grateful when I walk out the door each morning. I love my garden. It's not a big garden but I greet the flowers and the trees and the plants and I talk to them. I love them and I'm so grateful. I have a little cottage that I meditate in every morning and I have this beautiful pine tree. One morning I look up at this pine tree and say, "I'm so grateful for you that you are holding this space for me.” I notice the limbs curve like a hug around my cottage and I thought to myself "Oh my gosh! How did I ever miss this?" There's so much beauty. I just feel so grateful for this journey. I think that's really what the answer is-- I feel really, really grateful. And it's interesting because I don't have that sense, like everyone wants to know what's on your bucket list, do you want to travel all over the world, do you want to do this? I don't have that. I just feel so grateful to be here. Everything is here. That's a great life lesson that I don't have to go anywhere or do anything but just being here is enough. It's more than enough, it's everything.
Our host for the call, Nicole brought up insightful questions from a couple of callers.
Nicole: The first one is Jackie, she says in light of all the suffering in the world, and we don't have to look past the current political primaries, how do you keep such a positive outlook? Do you figure it will unfold as it needs to? Or do you feel a kind of responsibility on your shoulders? If it's the latter, how do you hold it all while keeping a kind heart?
Anne: That's the beauty of our hearts. The heart is vast. I've had moments in meditation where I'm almost overwhelmed by the vastness of the heart. How the heart can hold it all; the pain; the joy. I've thought a lot about this because I feel really grateful to have so much joy in my life. The joy comes because I'm also able to hold the pain. The current climate is a really challenging one but I also feel that every morning is a blessing. I have the space to sit every morning. That grounds me into a very beautiful place where I can listen and I can trust. I trust that more and more what I'm called to do. I trust that I can be an instrument in that way. And we all can. And the beauty of the community of Service Space and Noble Friends is we can hold each other through the difficult times, through the joyful times. Life is very rich and sometimes it doesn't make sense: life is is so much more and so much bigger than us I have to "bow" to the mystery of it all.
How touching way of deriving positive synergy from abundance in heart, the “heart” we all always have!
Surrounding me with people and ideas that would encourage me to hold that space within myself is a priceless nugget - a seed I feel so called to cherish and nourish.
Nicole: Wow! It is a mystery and it's fun to be in that space sometimes. No matter if it’s up or down…it’s kind of like surfing...
Anne: Yeah and I think it's also something I think about every day is where's my edge? One of my challenges in my life is I feel like I've been very careful. So I have to really listen. Am I being careful, is that wisdom to hold back? Or is that I'm careful and I'm scared, is that fear? What is that? So I'm grateful for that space of silence to have that inner inquiry because, especially in this world when it is challenging, what is needed of me and am I really listening?
On love and connection with nature and animals …
Anne: I feel like we've always had the ability to commune with the land and the animals. It's just that we've lost that knowing. It's there we just don't remember. The animal world is a beautiful teacher for us to remind us of our connection to nature, to remind us that we are not separate.
You are able to listen to the audio for the call, and read transcript on Anne’s Awakin Call page.
My lessons learned from Anne’s smiley ways …
One: Deep down inside we always have that child that enjoyed small things in life, a child that managed to smile and embrace life for all of its possibilities, a child that saw dreams without any bounds. Cherish and relive those moments, they can be such an incredible source of strength and equanimity.
Two: When going gets tough and seemingly beyond our means, surrender to the present moments with openness to learn from them. Pain in our lives can be an incredible source of strength, wisdom and ultimately happiness.
Three: Engage in something that would nurture, cultivate others. Contribute, reach out there … and the journey would bring harmony from inside even in the most trying of times. On a rainy day when things seem daunting, hold an umbrella for someone else, that would help weather the storm; maybe even embrace it for new channels it might open up.
Four: Have a sense of gratitude, there can be routine things life that we take for granted, but therein lies keys to spring magic in the mundane. Every breathe is happening is a magic in itself, it is happening without me even trying to make it happen. Observe that and be grateful for that if nothing else.
Five: Open the windows, feel the wind, slow down and connect with universe around us, universe that is holding the space for us to connect back to what is close to our hearts. We are part of a living, breathing connectedness. It reminds me yet again, of Albert Einstein's words on freedom and security and how we find it in embracing everyone and everything around us.
This is springing a smile on my face, right now, while capturing lessons from Anne's smiley ways :)