Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Read This When Uncertainty Strikes

Lava Moving Toward Pahoa

Lava flowing toward the town of Pahoa, Hawaii •  September 18, 2014

Transitions always occur around my birthday. Have you noticed that too?

A few months ahead, I start to (metaphorically) itch.  Inevitably, several aspects of my life, ones I used to love, begin to feel like a prized shirt mistakenly washed in hot water – too tight.  It might be my connection with a health care provider, a business consultant, or a personal relationship that needs to change.

I tend to be insanely loyal.  It’s not easy for me to release what I’ve previously cherished even when signs appear like newborn criticism, irritation, or anger.

In the past, I didn’t release these elements gracefully.  I needed to create a drama to inflame my righteousness and thus buoy my courage.

Now, when the clues appear, I know I’m shedding so I can step lightly into the new.  I do my best to let go with kindness.  I honor all the goodness I’ve received from the person or situation without making a ruckus about my new-found infantile irks.

I understand, it’s time to step into uncertainty.

Each Year Offers a New Opportunity for Personal Growth

These shifts begin as early as three months before my birthday and may continue a bit past it as well.  The time around your birthday marks a solar return and a new phase of personal growth according to astrology.

Although I’m not an astrology fanatic, I allow the stars to guide me into each new year.  These are some of the key themes of my solar return chart this year:

  • Finances and self worth
  • Increased commitment and responsibility in the home environment
  • Self-protection, balance, and free time
  • Faith and divine protection

There’s nothing about career, aside from a conflict in work-life balance (yet again).

Your True Calling:  Could There Be More Than One?

Which brings me to this uncertainty about my true calling.

You would think I would know my true calling by now. But, at least for some of us, it’s not a single life-long pursuit.  As a young girl, I wanted to be a writer.  But in early adulthood, I got sidetracked into high stress organizational work.  Many years later, when I finally established myself as a freelance writer, I felt like I’d come home.  But, now – like that tight shirt once again – this isn’t the right fit.

I’ll keep writing on my blog because I do feel called to share and support you as best I can.  And, I would love to create more courses like Living with Ease, The Mindful Way to Dissolve Stress, but on different themes.

But something else beckons me.  Though I don’t know quite how it will manifest, I’ve had clues. I sense it’s about going deeper spiritually, learning to walk between the two worlds, birthing a new aspect of myself, and healing my connection with the earth.

At the same time resistance remains strong.  I wonder, “Could it be the uncertainty?  Could it be not knowing what’s next?”

Life Lessons from the Lava Flow

As I write this, lava flows toward our nearest town (10 miles away).  The speed of its movement is uncertain and changes every single day.  In the weeks to come, the lava may cut the town in two and disconnect the main highway to our community.  Or it may suddenly stop.

Life seems uncertain for almost everyone here right now.  Will they have a job and will they be able to reach it?  How will they manage to take their child to school on the “other side?”  Will the lava take out electrical poles, turning off the power indefinitely?  Will this brilliant flame flow all the way to the ocean, cutting us off entirely?

Pele, the Goddess who oversees the lava flow brings both destruction and creation.  As she destroys, something new is simultaneously created.  She will, no doubt, bring us many lessons during her current expression.  These are a few that immediately come to my mind:

  • Let go of the old (destruction) and move into the new (creation).
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Be ready to twist and turn with your unfolding karma, but also know that you create new karma with every thought, word, and deed.
  • Explore the cracks and fissures of your unconscious mind.
  • Be flexible, optimistic, and adaptable.

I’m grateful to the molten lava, which made this remarkable land and continues to grow it inch by inch.  She was here first.  It’s up to us to honor her, adapt, and face the truth of impermanence.

A Few Tips on Coping with Uncertainty

What do I do in the midst of this inner and outer uncertainty?

  • Relax as best I can
  • When I feel overwhelmed (and I do sometimes), pause
  • Follow the clues and listen to my inner voice
  • Humor the resistance
  • Embrace the new in small spurts
  • Be patient and trust in divine timing
  • Prepare for an emergency without buying into fear
  • Plant seeds
  • Connect with my community.

I’m also reading Digging Deep, Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.  I’m spending more time in the orchard – cardboard mulching, planting lemon grass and comfrey to keep weeds away from the crown of each fruit tree, and inserting cuttings of perennial food plants into the earth.  I’m experimenting with short mini-retreats, a few hours of healing meditation practice on select days.

I’m moving toward what calls me now, like the lava, inch by inch.  It doesn’t need a name.  It doesn’t have to be an occupation.

It’s okay to be uncertain.  That’s actually how life is.  The secret is to gently lean into uncertainty knowing that destruction gives rise to creation and that the cycle never stops.

Lava Update:  The lava has redirect itself and is no longer an immediate threat to Pahoa town.

Thank you for reading.  If you have a moment, please help me reach others by sharing this post.  If you’re new, please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

Image:  ©AndrewRichardHara


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  1. Wow, I love this post, Sandra. I completely relate to this being so loyal, though I often call it people-pleasing, calling it ‘loyal’ is more pleasant. And even loyalties have to end sometimes when they’re no longer right for us. I feel the pain of that like a ripping tear sometimes, and yet even band-aids that once helped us heal need to come off sometimes.

    I am glad the lava is not such a threat at the moment! It’s hard to fathom something like that in our modern age, but once again nature always does have the last word. I hope your town continues to remain safe and whole.

    I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this shifting, transitioning time. And thank you for sharing my post about what’s calling me now. I always feel so honored when you share something of mine! You’re a wonderful support.


    • Hi Lisa,
      Interesting! I never thought of this as people-pleasing, but now I see it is in a sense. For me, it’s a fear of disappointing people or hurting their feelings, which both seem to be elements of people-pleasing now that you’ve framed it.

      We’ll walk this path of shifting and transitioning together! Your post was a perfect fit. I read it after I wrote the first draft of this one, and naturally it spoke to me. That’s such a perfect question.

  2. Very profound and helpful as I am frequently going through this phase of uncertainty with being newly retired…these thoughts and lessons will be of immense help Sandra. I am glad you will keep the blog. i would miss it. I also bought the cards you recommended in your Sanctuary post…most interesting and I feeling my way with them. My poem today is about Sanctuary too.

    • Donna,
      I can imagine what it’s like being newly retired! So many possibilities and so many opportunities for uncertainty. I hope the Sanctuary cards help you. It’s seems like “feeling our way” is the best approach. Look forward to reading your post on Sanctuary.

      I would miss you too! But, I’m still here!

  3. Betsy

    I loved reading this post. I’m intrigued where you’ll go next, Sandra, bridging earth and the spiritual realm. Fascinating stuff. I wonder what is in store for me, as well. The analogy of an ill-fitting shirt struck a chord in me. I, too, need to listen to my intuition, pause and continue to find support in community. Thanks for this post today and I will continue to keep you and your town in my thoughts.

    • Dear Betsy, It sounds like we’ll be walking this path together. That could be exciting and fun. I wonder what’s in store for you as well! I would love to know as it becomes clear. For now, I know the earth calls me and I’m spending more time outdoors. It may just be a quiet shift, not a dramatic one. Thanks so much for connecting! I appreciate our connection so much.

  4. Hi Sandra,

    This article is beautifully worded, wrapped in soft colored wall paper of spiritual messages, going straight into the deepest crevices of heart, awakening it to the truths around us and dealing with them with grace. Each word is speaking so tenderly yet pointing towards the truths we want to shut our eyes to. I am feeling at a loss of words to convey my feelings after reading this. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts in such a pious manner in the wake of lava flowing so near and around.

    I know mother Nature can be kind despite our self-serving pursuits, I know God is great, I hope all will be fine when we think positive. Thanks for those tips, they are truly invaluable.

    • I’m deeply moved by your words of appreciation, Balroop. I think they actually point to where I want to be: exploring this spiritual heart of mine and everyone else too. So your beautiful words have spoken clearly to me. Thanks for sharing so deeply.

      Only time will tell what Mother Nature has in store for us. I’m not in any danger myself, but depending on where the lava flows it may impact my life and that’s a good opportunity to reflect and adapt.

  5. Hi Sandra,

    Oh it’s all change all the time isn’t it?! The periods of feeling settled are short but change is always exciting if a little uncertain. It seems like your blog has changed too!

    • You’re an adventurous spirit at heart, aren’t you, Annabel! So I understand why you find change exciting. I think that’s a great way to look at it. Yes, my blog has changed too!

  6. Jean Sampson

    I am so glad the lava has stopped, at least for now. That must be a really weird experience. waiting to see where it will go and the changes it will cause. I will continue to pray for the little town.

    I am also called to be outside more, mostly walking several hours a day. It connects me to my childhood, which was happy for the most part, because the whole neighborhood of kids were ALWAYS outside. Kids today lose so much by being inside with TV’s and computers. It will be interesting to see where life leads you, Sandra. I am also glad you are not giving up your blog <3

    • You’re bringing back memories for me, Jean. Like catching fireflies during warm, summer nights. I lived in a big city, but it didn’t feel that way in the stretch of my neighborhood. I’m glad you’re getting all that time outside, Jean. It sounds so healthy. Yes, life will be different when this generation grows up.

      There may not be any dramatic changes in my life, just more slowing down. I would miss you terribly of course!

      • Jean Sampson

        Well I would really miss you terribly, too, Sandra! <3 <3
        Slowing down sounds lovely, especially after getting a ton (not really ) of paintings ready for pick-up for the Decorators' show, getting together a Teacher /student show for Oct —-like herding cats! 🙂 and getting two classes started! Does it ALL have to happen at once?? Anyway, I survived and lived to tell about it! 🙂 And I am SO grateful for every bit of it! 🙂
        Love to you!

        • That so much, Jean! Why does it all happen at once? That’s what’s happening in my life at the moment. I love your attitude of gratitude. I’ve dive in and even be grateful for dental work!!!! Love to you!

  7. I didn’t realize you live in Hawaii. What a wonderful place to live despite lava flows. I lived in the Bay Area for 12 years and the possibility of a large earthquake always rumbled in the background.

    My sister has always called the month before one’s birthday the dying phase. You are wrapping up things and will begin planting seeds or birthing new ideas and projects after your birthday.

    • Hi Wendy,

      I lived in the Bay Area too, even in Santa Cruz during the time of the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake. But I happened to be out of bounds during the time the quake shook. I don’t think there’s any place that can guarantee us absolute safety! I feel so blessed to live in Hawaii and living with an active volcano that still growing the island is part of it.

      Your sister has the perfect way to describe the time before our birthday! Thanks for sharing that.

  8. I’m incredibly happy that the lava flow has sputtered out Sandra.

    Life truly is a series of ups and downs ins and outs and change is always paramount, just as in nature. Which makes sense since we’re all part and parcel of the same thing.

    I’m excited to know where change is taking you Sandra, there must be something in the stars, shifts have occurred for me in most areas of my life, and no it’s not even my birthday.

    For me I know that at some deep level everything that comes to me is something I’ve been asking for only sometimes the way things occur make it a challenge to connect the dots. But it’s amazing when you decide the dots are connected, it suddenly becomes so clear.

    • Dear Elle,

      It’s nice to be in the stream of change with you, Elle. I meant to say that change can come at any time, not just around our birthday and you are proving that!

      That’s an interesting point about connecting the dots, and that you “decide” the dots are connected so clarity suddenly comes. It’s so much about seeing what’s in front of us, isn’t it! Thanks for sharing this unique perspective. It’s helping me to look at it all in a new way.

  9. Sandra, I love this. Shedding what is no longer needed to make room for a good fit with the new. Honoring Pele’s love, seeing destruction as an act of creation.

    Thanks for sharing your heart; may all your shirts fit loosely and flowingly.

    Blessed be,

  10. “It’s okay to be uncertain. That’s actually how life is.”

    This is so true. We try to find certainty in things but life is constant change. We are constantly changing. You are not the same person you were a year ago. To embrace the uncertainty and accept it as part of life is freeing.

    I love that you include humor in your tips for dealing with it. Humor is such a vital tool for our mental health.

    I am glad the lava stopped. I hope that it stops for good. Well wishes sent your way.

    • Thank you, dear Sebastian. You certainly understand how life flows and how to find more freedom. Humor doesn’t come naturally to me, but I agree that it helps so much. I hope to cultivate it more and more!

      Thanks for you good wishes!

  11. Thank you Sandra for sharing your amazing wisdom! What you say is very true – we like everything to be predictable, and get confused, scared or frustrated with unexpected changes or sudden happenings. Even when we know that life is full of surprises, we still keep falling into this trap – this happens with me very often.
    I especially loved the way you used lava to demonstrate life’s twists and turns, and also the good things that come out of them. I couldn’t have imagined that a destructive and negative thing like lava can be used as an example for encouraging a positive growth/change in life.
    Also the sentence ‘explore the cracks and fissures of your unconscious mind’ greatly impressed me!

    • Hello Atiba,

      Yes, isn’t it ironic how we keep falling into the same sense of surprise when change occurs? I reflect on impermanence each day to help me remember nothing stays the same and also to enrich and appreciate each moment as it occurs.

      Thanks for your appreciative words. And, thanks for sharing your insights.

      • That’s very true Sandra! We need to keep reminding ourselves and reflecting on our thoughts, else we always end up doing what is wrong, yet again.
        Happy Friday, and a great weekend to you! 😀

  12. Yes, I love the ideas and tips you’ve shared here. I view uncertainty like this. It’s a test from the Universe, to see how much you REALLY trust and know that you are being taken care of, that everything is not just working out fine, but it really is working out in your favor!

    The thing is, nothing is certain, is it? Everything is in constant change, except for existence itself. Keeping this in mind I remind myself to bask in the now moment…

    • That’s a huge accomplishment, Erric. I love your attitude: to see everything as a test for the Universe and as an opportunity to trust in divine protection.

      Yes, nothing is certain yet so many of us live as if life will never change, which usually brings suffering. I’m with you on spending more time in the present moment.

  13. Sandra, your tips on coping with uncertainty are right on the mark for me. I welcome them as a soothing balm.

    What you write about annual life changes puts me in mind of something I heard in a lecture nearly thirty years ago, about the Chaldean calendar. Our personal new year begins on our birthdays, and there are seven cycles per year of approximately fifty-two days, each with its own special theme of support. The seventh has much to do with endings and making space for the new endeavors to arise in the new year’s first cycle.

    It is always a pleasure to receive your posts. I wish you well, Sandra, in whatever “gifts” your personal “lava” is bringing you.


    • That’s fascinating about the Chaldean calendar, Dena. I haven’t heard of this before so I’ll be curious to find out more.

      We all need healing balms in this crazy, busy world. I love connecting with people like you who have this foremost in their mind and are devoted to helping others find their wellness too.

      Thanks for your kind words, Dena.

  14. Sue

    I love the idea that we have more that one true calling. Thanks for the insightful post.

  15. I think this one says it all for me. I don’t it covers everything! However, it’s not always easy!
    Be patient and trust in divine timing

    I’m off now to practice;)) xo

    • So true, Tess! If we could get that one down, it would so much easier to live in ease! I love how you keyed in on a touchstone.

  16. Wonderful post, and applicable to everyone. Uncertainty causes me great anxiety. There is so much to absorb here, that I need to sit back down and read it again when things are a little quieter.

    • I would like things to be predictable myself, Kayla! So I can fully understand that uncertainty brings you anxiety. It’s wonderful though how you so skillful weave uncertainty into your novels and stories. I guess that’s how life is too. I hope something here helps you in some way.

      • My writing is very therapeutic. There’s something about guiding my characters through craziness. Your work inspires me regularly, and of course your Living With Ease course introduced me to some great tools.

        • Kayla,
          I have that feeling from reading Swept Up! I can see how you can find your own center through guiding your characters. Thanks so much for your sweet words about my writing. Much love to you.

  17. I really identify with the image of the tight shirt. I have been feeling that way about my job lately, even though I really enjoy it. For me hardest thing about uncertainty is waiting. I’m impatient by nature. If I sense a change coming I want it to be revealed NOW thank you very much! In my head I know that the unveiling will happen in the right time and in the right way, but it’s hard to wait. In some ways it is a bit like waiting for a seed to grow. You know that the seed is going through significant changes, but it takes a while for those changes to manifest themselves. Can’t I just skip to the beautiful flower part? It seems not xxx

    • Hi Sharon,

      I’m impatient too so I resonate with how that feels! Come on already! But, as you wisely point out, that’s not necessarily how life unfolds. I love the analogy of a seed. It’s always so exciting when the seed bursts out of the ground! And it’s so magical that the seed becomes a flower.

      Hope you get a new shirt soon. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  18. Hi Sandra,

    I resonated with so much you wrote as I have been transitioning for some time now. I love the possibility of several callings. That made me feel a whole lot better! For me, the biggest impediment to progress is fear. I think the cautious approach has been instilled in me and I have come to believe in it although I still do want to lose sight of the shore! I wonder whether our feelings of loyalty can be associated with fear, too. There are times that I think my loyalty keeps me stuck and impedes my progress. I think I am loyal to those who I believe provide me with safety.

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