Rethinking Retirement  

Getting Connected

by Jenice Cutler
I sipped my grande latte while I lounged on the coffee shop patio on a beautiful August day and reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. A small tinge of hypocrisy came over me when asked to write an article on connectedness. I wasn’t exactly feeling connected at the moment, having just spent most of my summer away from home, and therefore away from my normal routines. Yet at the same time, what better time to focus on connecting with my spirit and the big “S” Spirit than right now, when I was feeling disconnected? Besides, I have been through many cycles with my state of connectedness, at times feeling alone and detached from life and at other times feeling a part of and connected to everything. In moments such as this when I realize that I have lost myself again, I still have to remind myself that the cycles and the rollercoaster-like ride of life are natural, as nothing in life is static, nor would I want it to be.

You may be asking, “What the heck are you even talking about…connectedness?” Of course, this means different things to different people depending on their life’s experiences and belief system. I am focusing on being in tune with, or in relationship with, both yourself and a higher power (or higher source, energy, creator – God, if you prefer). Nurturing one naturally nurtures the other; opening the door to one opens the door to the other. The concept of nourishing our body, mind and soul is not new or difficult, it just requires our effort and attention to actually connect with the internal you and with divinity. Oh, the places we go when we focus on honoring the inside and connecting with life: more gratitude, joy, ease, purpose/fulfillment, love, and peace.
When I am connected to life, I have many signs or “a-ha moments” as indicators. Here are a few:
- When my head or mental voice is quiet enough to hear my heart, intuition or gut-knowing.

- When I am creating my day instead of reacting/responding to it.

- When life flows, and I am not resisting or creating obstacles. I still will have challenges or struggles, but I am not swimming against the current.

- When I am present with myself and with others. In non-stressful situations, relationships and experiences are much richer when I am present. In stressful situations, I can actually see and feel (and be aware of) how my emotional insecurities are triggered, or how my body tightens, for example. I can consciously decide to not take personally (refrain from personalizing) the drama or stress or trauma in my life, and I can take a moment to breathe and release the tension from my body, instead of allowing it to get stuck there.

- When I am taking time for myself to do things that excite me, and invigorate and feed my interests and passions.

- When I recognize that the coincidences in life really aren’t coincidences, when I am aware that a higher source, energy, loving being(s) - God - is always present and assisting me, and when I can see miracles in each day.

- When my gratitude for life, and its full spectrum of experiences, is heightened.
So, I have to admit, not many of these signs are present in my life right now. In fact, the presence of my nagging critical voice is a sure sign that I have been living on autopilot for a while now, not to mention that I feel lethargic from the moment I wake up in the morning, not even registering the blessing of opportunity in each day. Enough already of using my kids (job, work, responsibilities) as a distraction from doing the things that excite me and help me connect to life! Enough already of choosing caffeine as my only fuel to help me feel “up” about the day! Enough already of giving all of myself to things outside of myself!
I have an array of lift-me-ups, open-me-ups, and connect-me-agains to choose among. Now is a good time.
- Prayer and/or meditation.

- Journaling. This is huge for me, especially when I am so deep in a concern that I am confused and can’t see it clearly. Journaling allows me to vent and release all of my thoughts, so that eventually I can see the situation more clearly.

- Being in nature, or just outside. I love to walk in the woods and through plains and meadows or to sit by a lake or river. If I don’t have the time for a hike, I can make tasks such as walking our dog or working in the yard an adventure with nature by observing the birds and insects and flowers. As I witness the different elements of nature coexisting in harmony, I literally am reminded of my place in the world. I have loved discovering my unique relationship with nature and the earth. The earth was once a dead sphere of dirt and rock to me, and now is a magnificent living entity and the most generous loving host and teacher to me.

- Physical movement. Presently, I enjoy yoga, Pilates and dance, but in the past I have enjoyed martial arts, biking and walking/jogging.

- Deep breathing, and toning. I have learned to deepen my breath and to bring my breath to different parts of my body through meditation, chiropractic care, tantra and yoga. When I am alone in my car, I often use my voice/sound to create a sense of aliveness (energy) moving through my body.

- Inspirationals. I can be inspired and reminded of who I really am by reading spiritual books, listening to positive, motivational music, meeting with my spiritual mentor, or connecting with spiritually like-minded friends.

- Intimacy with my husband. Sometimes it is merely looking into my husband’s eyes, without speaking. Other times it is making love without any agenda or time constraints. Yes, we have good old fashion sex too. But what I am talking about here is the gift of connecting with someone who loves me and is able to create a safe space for any and all of my emotions and feelings to surface, without judgment.

- Creativity! Each and every one of us is a creative being. When we tap into our creative nature, we open our hearts for inspiration and to our own inherent unlimited potential. Even observing another’s creative work gives us a glimpse into our own beauty and greatness. As we create “art” from thought and ideas, seemingly manifesting something out of nothing, we experience and validate our creative power, and we can apply this ability to other aspects of our lives. As New Agers say, “Where thought/attention goes, energy flows.” Play with your artsy side - music, drawing, singing, writing, cooking, fashion, painting, decorating, problem solving, sewing, story telling, landscaping – and be a kid again!
These are some of the foods that I feed my body, mind and soul to connect again, and stay connected. What are yours? If you don’t have your own answer for this question, then ask that person or persons in your life who generally seem to be calm, peaceful, grounded, centered, reflective, balanced and thoughtful. You’re bound to hear ideas that sound and feel appealing, fun and easy to incorporate into your life (ideas that trigger your own interests). For example, connecting with nature for one person may mean hiking (like me!), and for another, weeding the garden, or maybe fishing.
So, don’t take me wrong, I savor my morning cup of coffee as much as any other java junkie. But, right now, I think I’ll pass on that second cup (or, is it, third?) and focus inward for a few minutes so that my senses can experience my own spirit and its unique relationship with the Divine!
Jenice Cutler is a wife, mother and author of the book, Diary of an Awakening:  A Spiritual Journey of a Lifetime. She hopes that her “reflections on life” writings will help people to discover and deepen their own spiritual paths.

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