Soul Places

Befriending the Soul through Inquiry and Creativity

Tag: soul

The Shore of Self and Career

San Francisco Shore
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2009

Journal entry 5/02/12: Today I feel the pull.  The gentle tug to return to some things before I get too far from them again.  It’s easier to return to the shore when I keep it in sight.  Easier to return to vital things, life giving things.  Meditation, playfulness, writing, running, nature, my animals.

Recently I willfully lost sight of the shore of my old working life to venture into open, foreign waters for a new experience in career: teaching; an integral part of what I now know to be my life’s work.  A necessary venture into uncharted territory.

The shore I do not wish to lose sight of is the shore of what feeds my soul.  I am free to ebb and flow from this shore, but to lose sight of it again means inevitable struggle and possible drowning.

I feel the gentle tug back to the shore of meditation, my animal teachers, nature, sweat and movement.

To intentionally lost sight of the shore of career doesn’t mean to lose sight of the shore of self and all that nurtures her.  But can they become one again?  Have they ever been one?  I think not.

I am in search of the shore where career and self can both be found.  Where they become inseparable.

I feel the undercurrent pulling me back to this shore, to mesh career and self for the first time in this life.  Can this symbolic shore be taken with me when I venture again into the unknown?  Again and again?  I must find a way to do so.


Dreaming Big or Shrinky-dink?

A Ferociously Journaled Page Curls
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

“You don’t love yourself enough to believe you deserve everything you want.” Lisa McCourt, Juicy Joy

This week found me journaling ferociously about what I deserve or what I have a right to.  It began when I realized my life is not in alignment with my dreams as much as I’d hoped.  And although I am narrowing the gap in several areas, I wanted to explore ways to narrow the gap in the areas that appear stagnant.

Seeking self-improvement is a fine line between appreciating what I have while creating something different.  Like being perfectly imperfect, it is quite a balancing act to accept myself as I am while desiring growth and change.  Which brings me to what I think I deserve or have a right to.  I cringe at both those words – deserve, right.  When I have a strong reaction like this, I know there is something there worth exploring.

“The secret to elevating every aspect of your life – love, money, health, life purpose – is simply to elevate your self-love. Lisa McCourt, Juicy Joy

Journal entry 4/24/12: I noticed I’ve been dreaming smaller lately.  Trying to fit into the limits of my own mind, not the limit of the Universe which I wrongly assume is that of my mind.  The Universe is limitless.  What is the point of limiting myself when I could have it all?  Where is my self-love lacking?  Let’s dream again…

And I dreamt big!  I filled page after page of things I’d forgotten and surprising new things I didn’t know I wanted.

Journal entry continued:  I give myself permission to dream big again.  I give myself permission to have it all.  All the dreams and the responsibility that comes with them.  I am responsible!  I am capable of managing the dream.  The dream life.  The dream life is a mirror of my alignment.  How I express my soul and manage my ego.  The dream life is a mirror of my self love.  I am not the shrinking shrinky-dink.  I am not these things that limit me – they are too small for me.  I claim my place in my dreams that are not yet as big as me.

And so goes the stream of consciousness that is journaling.  Some real gems in there and even more “to-be-continueds” as I live more life and learn more things.

Have your dreams shrunk or disappeared altogether?  Gift yourself twenty minutes today to dream big again.  And then take the first step in the direction of those dreams.  Please share your thoughts or dreams in the comments.

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow.  I think this applies to dreaming big too.

In Exceptional Company

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2011

Here at Soul Places I strive to share stories that reveal all the places my soul hides and shines while encouraging the reader to draw his or her own gems and insights from the piece.  Now there is a book (not mine – yet) with thirty such stories and today marks the beginning of the most audacious book blog tour I’ve ever seen, much less been a part of.

New York Times best-selling author Jack Canfield of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, is at it again.  And three more New York Times best-selling authors have joined him and twenty-five of the best up and coming self-help authors to create Pearls of Wisdom: 30 Inspirational Ideas to Lead Your Best Life Now.

Not only is my good friend and nationally recognized animal communicator Asia Voight one of the gifted, compassionate authors, but I have the honor of introducing another one of these amazing people.  I am so excited about Marcelle Charrois‘ work and vision.  I just watched a video of her newest project and it’s really exciting – I can’t wait to share her with you!  Her interview will debut on my blog Wednesday, March 28th.  That’s only one week away.  And bound to be one of the most exciting posts yet!

Beginning today and going through the middle of May, this blog tour will include interviews of the authors and reviews of the book.  You can click here for the entire blog schedule.  Be sure to order your copy of the book at your local indie bookstore – release date is April first.

Tune in tomorrow when another friend of mine, Lauri Lumby, interviews an author at her blog, Authentic Freedom Ministries.  And then tune in every day until you say yes to getting the book.  It won’t take long.  See you next week!


Avatar-esque Tree in Frisco. Copyright Diane Ludeking 2010

I had a dream last week that ended with a former boss reprimanding me for using the wrong tool for a task.  The tool she wanted me to use was very similar to the one I had used but would have been more cumbersome and less efficient.  Confused by the accusation, I was about to ask her for clarity when the dream suddenly stopped.  I began to stir and wake when the word soulution popped into my head, deliberately spelled with the word soul.

“How cool is that?  I’m playing with words in my dreams!”  I thought as I lay in bed wondering what the peculiar spelling could mean.

Solution – noun – the act of solving a problem, question, etc.

Using the dictionary term to look at this dream, I found the question before me to solve was who’s right?  Clearly I was in the right because I chose the correct tool for the job, but I am familiar with these “conversations” and where they end – Blameville.

By looking at the unique spelling of this word, an obvious message for me and my soul work, I took myself deeper.

Soul – noun – the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect.

Looking for a definition of a word that does not exist, I was able to flex my soul muscle and come up with:

Soulution – noun (maybe it’s actually a verb) – the act of solving a problem using my spiritual practices and the seat of the soul, compassion.

This process also reminded me of my vow, a Plato quote:  Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Can you come up with another definition of soulution?  Leave it in the comments so I can continue to expand my own definition.  I think the work here is not done and I need your input.  Thanks.

What Does Soul Fitness Look Like?

Finding My Soul in Lake Michigan

The phrase physical fitness brings to mind people that look great in swimming suits, people running marathons, Olympians and mindless drones in the gym. The phrase mental fitness brings to mind people meditating, people concentrating on a game of chess and people in the middle of a life-changing exam. The phrase emotional fitness brings to mind people knowing and asking for what they want, people with a forgiving heart and people with a life threatening illness and the people that love them. But what happens when these two words are put together: soul fitness?

The phrase muscle memory brings to mind people riding a bike, typing, fastening their seatbelt and playing a video game. The phrase mental memory brings to mind people with great numeric recall, photographic memories and fluency in languages. The phrase emotional memory brings to mind people reacting, raging, acting out pain stories and swearing when they stub their toe. But what happens when these two words are put together: soul memory?

I want soul fitness, don’t I? Some sort of integration with the rest of me would be nice. Soul muscles that flex when I ask because I have done the work to make them fit and strong. How would you stretch a sore soul muscle? A soul mind that recalls what I came here to do would be phenomenal! Is there an emotional soul? What would that look like?

I want soul memory too, don’t I? Or do I? A soul that behaves without much input from me, like muscle memory? Hmm…I don’t know. What would a soul with instant recall be good for? Is the soul the seat of the emotional body? I don’t know about you, but I am grabbing my journaling to have a conversation with my soul to find my own answers.

Let it Be

Dearest Friend,

I’ve been sitting in sadness these last twenty-four hours – perhaps longer.  Finally allowing myself to feel it, I am overcome by the absence of friends and family.  You are the most precious of these to me in ways unimaginable.

Thank you so much for all your support, I feel it, I welcome it, I add my essence and send it back.  Your support, your unconditional love, carries me deeper into sadness because you are there and I am here.

My tears fall on seemingly barren terrain – my pink, emotion-heated flesh, the hard, impenetrable table of where I sit and write this – and then I realize these tears nurture the invisible.

The terrain of my soul, dry and cracked as deep winter dermal, consumes the first tear in a flash, as though it never arrived.  I unwittingly send more.  And more.  Soon my soul breathes.  Soon it is ready.  Soon the sadness transforms itself.  Into what, I don’t know yet.  I just let it be.  For now.

Until I see you again, feel your heart pound against mine, I commune with your soul and feel less sad.

Love, Soul

The Lowest Trees Have Tops

On my way to Asheville, NC

After the wedding of a dear friend from college this Saturday in Virginia, I found myself driving through the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains toward Asheville, NC.  I was listening to David Whyte’s audio book What to Remember When Waking while my husband and copilot slept in the seat next to me.  Fittingly and completely ‘coincidental,’ David Whyte begins reciting through my headset the poem The Lowest Trees Have Tops by Sir Edward Dyer.

This was the least scary part!

Earlier this week, before the wedding and my newly found love of mountains, I had an interesting dream about climbing trees and hanging out in the canopies of their mighty arms.  I made a mental note of it and then thought nothing of it until today. Ever since that dream, I have been in the treetops.  Yesterday I rappelled and zip lined through the Blue Ridge Mountain range of the Appalachians.  At two hundred feet in the air, on a swaying platform, I realized I am afraid of heights.  Not in a debilitating way, but enough to increase my anxiety the higher we got.  It’s a familiar sensation, never named before.  I thank the sensation for reminding me to be careful and focus on the scenery.

An inexplicable life long fear of bridges rises up to meet me as I am asked to traverse a sky bridge, the first of two.  Between the next zip line and myself is a swaying bit of rope and boards spaced far enough apart to spite me.  When my focus goes from watching where I put my feet to the valley below, I suck in my breath and stop.  As long as I’m stopped I switch my focus again.  To my left is the most magnificent view of autumn colors.  I exhale and move on.

In the middle of one of my zips, suspended hundreds of feet above a valley, I look over my right shoulder and see my shadow flying across the canvas of trees below.  I feel so small in the middle of this mountain range, but not insignificant.  The mountains greet me where I am and continue their journey skyward.  The trees impart their wisdom and beauty, reminding me that it is time to be courageous and fly.

Don't look at the gaps between boards!

What is that look on my face?

The Lowest Trees Have Tops

by Sir Edward Dyer

The lowest trees have tops, the ant her gall,
The fly her spleen, the little spark his heat,
And slender hairs cast shadows though but small,
And bees have stings although they be not great.
Seas have their source, and so have shallow springs,
And love is love in beggars and in kings.
Where waters smoothest run, deep are the fords,
The dial stirs, yet none perceives it move:
The firmest faith is in the fewest words,
The turtles cannot sing, and yet they love,
True hearts have eyes and ears no tongues to speak:
They hear, and see, and sigh, and then they break.

For more breathtaking pictures of my canopy adventure go to Facebook and search ‘sukowatz.’  Look for Canopy Adventure photo album.

Easing In

My Feet in La Duna - The Danube River - in Budapest

This Friday marks the end of a year long course I took for spiritual initiation.  Each student has designed her own ceremony to celebrate this momentous year and all that she has learned.  I look forward to feeling this ritual in every fiber of my being in order to carry it with me forever – along with the rituals of my beloved sisters.  I wrote this poem a while ago but feel that it sums up this last year for me very well.

My Feet in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, TX

Easing In

by Diane Ludeking

Easing in until last hair joins first toe
Wholly embraced in wet solitude
A muted underwater world


Become her.
The soul you think is separate
Ghosts towards you


Your first love returned
 Together at birth, divided in life
Easing in to a baptism of belonging