Why I wrote my first children’s book ever.

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Why did I even do this? Here’s why…

What Jake means to me.

I wrote this book to say one thing: happiness can meet you anywhere. I really want kids to know that. I want grown ups to know that. I want myself to remember that. I want a book that I can pick up to remind me. You can invite happiness in to meet you right where you stand. Nothing needs to change at all. Joy can flow to you whether you live in a cage, in prison, in a diseased body, or are living your very last breath. The universe is so expansive, it can reach anywhere. It can follow you into any dark corner. It can follow you down every twisty turning maze path, even ones that are dead ends. It can follow you and support you and welcome you as you pass from life into afterlife. Happiness can always meet you where you are. You simple invite it in by gratitude.

You might not always *want* to feel happy, and that is totally valid too. I know that I’d rather feel a genuine sorrow or fear or stress any day over a false sense of needing to always align with joy. I don’t always choose joy. But I *do* always know it is there for me, always waiting, always ready to scoop me up and take me on a ride out of whatever lonely place I’ve been. I like remembering that.

So back to Jake. He is a sweet little guinea pig living in a cage. How might that feel, to look out over the entire yard and woods beyond every single day, and not be able to get there. To feel like you have no say in the direction your life is headed. Well one day, Jake gets a chance to leave his cage. And he takes it!

He has a great day, but by night, he starts remembering all the things he loves about his cage… all the things that felt so boring to him before, became something he actively wants to return to.

Jake’s cage symbolizes how our we can feel trapped in a cage too. We can feel trapped by a disease, trapped by a situation, trapped by lack of money, trapped by a job we don’t want to do. Anyone can live in a cage. You can live in a gorgeous home, but if you hate cleaning it, or hate the people who live in it with you, it’s a cage. If you hate your life, you take your cage every where you go. If you go on a vacation, you may be distracted temporarily, but eventually, you realize you have taken your cage with you. If you feel trapped in a marriage and leave and remarry, you may have taken your cage with you. If you re-create experiences… illnesses, symptoms, dead end jobs, unsupportive relationships, you are trapped in a cage that is re-creating it’s bars around you.

This cage is your mind. Our minds can trap us by the thoughts we think.

Our thoughts can create a prison any where we go. A movable prison, that you can’t out run, can’t dig out from under, can’t break through. Everywhere you go, your mind goes too. If you are alive, your mind is with you. If you are breathing, your mind surrounds you.

I have a very active mind. I think and think and think… I enjoy thinking, I hate thinking, I think of new ideas and create new images and possibilities and worlds in my mind all the time. I think when I lay in bed at night. I think when I wake up. I think when I am washing the dishes, when I am in the shower, when I am typing these words. I have a love hate relationship with my active mind… it used to torture me with worry and what-ifs and existential questions… but at the same time it used to thrill me with new ideas for paintings, new poems I had to write, helped me dance easily through college and medical school with absolutely no studying, no effort… I just woke up each day and went off and running, doing anything and everything under the sun.

Exciting but exhausting. And never any deep comfort, no sustainable sense of purpose. No meaning behind it all. No sense of fulfillment. Just the next thing and the next.

My mental diarrhea went with me no matter where I lived and no matter what I did. It just kept on running.

Until one day, with the birth of my children, my perspective changed. I became less consumed with needing to do and was finally able to pause and just be. For once, I fell so completely in love and so overwhelmingly satisfied, holding my precious child in my arms, that my brain fell silent. And I stayed in that moment. And then my brain picked itself up, dusted itself off, and was up and running again in no time. Trying to convince me to speed through life again, trying to distract me from the *being* with lots of *doing.* But this time, my perspective had changed. And I wasn’t so easily fooled. My mind could no longer trick me and steal my time. It couldn’t trap me so easily. I had found evidence of the eternal… the love I felt for my children reminded me instantly of the *great love* that exists in the nature of our souls. Once awakened, I couldn’t go numb from my mind chatter any longer. I was free.

It has been almost a decade now and I just keep feeling more free and more free.

Every single day life reveals to me that the eternal is all around, that to be alive is to be blessed, that just by breathing I am living in a sanctuary. That every moment is a blessing. That I don’t have to *do* anything. Being present and aware has opened my eyes to the blessing of life and the joy of interconnecting with other souls along the way.

With a new emphasis on being thankful where I stand… not where I am going, but where I am RIGHT NOW, my mind feels free and open to possibility.

So this book is a story about a guinea pig who decides he has had enough of feeling imprisoned by his cage. It is a story for young and old. It is my story… it is my story about how I have closed the prison of my mind and turned my life into my own personal sanctuary. The birth of my children help me lift the cage that my brain created when I would worry…. usually about what happens before and after life in a body ends.

I think sometimes our bodies and minds can feel like cages to our souls. But even though I am still living within this body cage, my soul still sings the song of expansion. Living within the parameters of a body, my soul aligns with eternal freedom.

How? The same way Jake finds freedom. By focusing on what I am grateful for (my children) and remaining open to possibility. That’s it! I live in my body, which is simply a cage for my soul, and yet my body is now my paradise. I choose to live in this body… I am grateful for it. Jake lives in his cage, chooses to live in his cage… and yet his cage is his sanctuary too.

Jake decides to go back to living life in his cage… but by focusing on gratitude for what he has within the walls of that cage, happiness moves right on in. All the things he thought he had wanted from the outside world become possible right in his very own home. Foods, friends, fun… all of it is possible, right where he stands. He doesn’t need to know how to do anything, doesn’t need to think or plan or leave… he needs to stand in appreciation of what he has and joyfully anticipate what he wants. The rest flows right to him, right into his cage, riding in on a wave of his happiness and joy.

This is a story of how to do it. How to find joy in standing in your cage. How to relax into the art of allowing. How to not let circumstances dictate to you how you can feel. No parameter can encage you except your own mind. Your soul feels freedom and expansion no matter what external parameter your body is experiencing. Your soul sings it’s song of joy and feels best when it remembers and vibrates in that frequency. If your mind has pinched your soul off from resonating with joy, as my mind did for so long, then you are suffering. And your mind has formed a prison around you. I speak from experience. If you can find a note of joy, something to focus on from within your cage that brings you the feeling of gratitude or even simple relief, then joy will begin to flow to you and meet you right where you are. Right in your cage, on your knees, on your deathbed, in your prison, there is no where that well being can not meet you.

Because I feel so much healthier free from my mental prison, I enjoy raising my children this way as well. No parameters, no imprisonment, no external pressures to do anything other then reach for joy. Reaching for joy first, everything else falls into place. The learning, the growing, the wonderment, the living. Joy first. That’s what I strive to teach my children, if there was any lesson I could teach.

The reality is, that this is the lesson they have brought to me. First, by their very existence. Being born, they brought me instant freedom, the freedom to fall in love without end. The freedom to fall into soul love. The freedom to remove the parameters of life, no beginning, no end. The freedom to *feel* soul energy and believe in the interconnectedness of all. xoxo

Whew! Did you make it all the way through my longest post ever? That’s the most I’ve typed in since I started this blog over 7 months ago. Thank you so much for being along to share the journey with me. If you are still awake, and not sleeping like poor exhausted Jake below, leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Are you happy, right where you are standing? And now I’m off to go lay down for a nap! I’ll be happy, right where I’m… ahem… laying. xoxo