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Words Carolyn Chilton Casas

Left undone – a prompt given to us in a writing class. My first response is, “I can’t think of much I have left undone.” The type A being that abides in my mind, constantly searches out undone projects and coerces me to finish them. She gives me no peace of mind until I can check ‘that too’ off my list.

    For many years, I would have answered that my relationship with my mother was a loose end. But, when she got sick a few years ago, stopped driving and needed my help, that wedged us into a space where we were forced to repair our bond. At first, it was rough going. She wanted to be independent and I wanted to live my life without taking on the sole responsibility of caregiving. Now that we have worked through much of this, I am incredibly thankful for the healing we have found, even at this late stage in our lives. Who knows how many years more we have left together? I was shown once more, it is never too late to shift toward love.

    With this taken care of, what else is left undone? My intuition has been telling me for a while — do one thing at a time, consistently give my full attention to the task at hand. No reading while eating, a favourite activity. I don’t really taste the food and my concentration isn’t fully on what I’m reading. No talking on the phone while working outside. It’s cumbersome; my neck gets sore from holding the phone between my ear and shoulder while working with my hands. Once put in action, sweeping the patio in a state of attentiveness is calming and Zen-like. Also, no paying bills and checking emails on the computer simultaneously, leading to errors in both places. This poem by Thich Nhat Hanh expresses my intention:

                                “Drink your tea slowly and reverently,

                        as if it is the axis on which the world revolves –

                        slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future;

                        live the actual moment.  Only this moment is life.”   

That Type A taskmaster who sits on my shoulder and pushes me to get the ‘to do’ list finished each day is not happy about the proposed changes. She’ll just have to deal with it. Another change my body has suggested is to stop drinking coffee and alcohol. Coffee makes me jittery now. I’m crazy about the taste, but not how I feel after drinking it. Even my favorite ice cream in our downtown village is called Doc’s Java, but I’ve been giving in less often to that. And I’m down to a couple of sips of my husband’s glass of wine or beer when we go out. Having a drink makes me wake up during the night. Water, that’s what I need to drink more of… another resolution. Recently, I read a book called A Healer’s Journey by Sree Chakravarti. She writes, “No one should ever underestimate the power of plain water as a cleansing and healing agent for the whole system.” She found in her many years of healing that many illnesses were caused or compounded by dehydration and could be helped greatly by just drinking more water.

    What else? I could stop collecting and treasure hunting. My house is comfortably complete. I’ve already conquered an adulation of yard sales and thrift stores, forever looking for a gem at a bargain price. Now, I need to stop buying used books – my four bookcases are full; buying clothes – I have more than enough – and picking up shells and stones on the beaches I travel to. I can appreciate their beauty in their natural setting without bringing them home. Pots and plants, I have an addiction to both. Our patio is overflowing with blooms and foliage. I’ve found an alternate reason to plant – making succulent containers to sell at fundraising events for women in Guatemala to have microloans for small businesses. In Esther and Jerry Hick’s book, Ask and It Is Given, they suggest that all of us have a tendency to gather things around us. Collecting things is contrary to the freedom that most of us want. We fill voids in our lives with material items. It’s time for me to be more conscious of that.

    The last two items I want to work on might take a little more attention. I’d like to be more aware of my intentions: Every thought, every word and every action. Not to chastise myself if I find my motive wanting or my ego involved, but to make continual adjustments until I feel my intentions are crystal clear and based on love. According to Wayne Dyer in The Power of Intention, intention has a face of kindness and of love. “No matter whether you call it God, Spirit, Source, or intention, be aware that unkind thoughts weaken and kind thoughts strengthen, your connection,” he writes. 

Maybe I could let go of trying to control the many details of life’s experiences and let Divine Presence take the wheel more often. Not being able to do this is another name for fear. I’ve been steadily heading in the direction of trust, which has allowed me to be much calmer, more able to let go of having things perfect than, say, 10 years ago. But I continue to worry about some things, especially those that involve my children, now young adults. I still have some fears, but my true belief is that we are all guided, protected and loved. Jack Kornfield in A Path with Heart writes, “Fear is always an anticipation of the future, an imagination. We get caught and lost in fear so often in our life…” I have learned that letting go of fear whenever possible and replacing it with faith in being guided is a much more peaceful way to live. Repeatedly, I remind myself of this.  Practice, more practice, is what is always needed.

    My list of things left undone seems possible to achieve.  Even writing them down brings the adjustments I want to make more firmly into my conscious mind. You might take a few minutes and ask yourself, “What is left undone in my life?” Then start taking action to make those changes.  It might not be easy, but by practising increased awareness and then taking these first small steps, my life has already changed for the better.

Carolyn Chilton Casas is a Reiki Master and teacher. Her favorite themes for writing are healing, wellness, awareness and the spiritual journey. Carolyn’s stories and poems have appeared in Energy, Mujer Holística, Reiki News Magazine, The Art of Healing, The Edgeand in other publications. You can read more of Carolyn’s work on Instagram at mindfulpoet_ or in her first collection of poems titled Our Shared Breath.