Embers to Ash


Embers to ash


Of a mindful life

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016


Being Your Own Voice of Reason

by Madisyn Taylor

How we attach meaning to events in our lives has a large influence on the quality of our life.

The meaning we assign to our experiences–whether pleasant or distressing, is a very powerful factor in determining the quality of our lives. What we imagine events to mean will color the way we feel about ourselves, about the people in our lives, and about the world at large. If we want to encourage a positive outlook, well-being, and a sense of self-confidence and even trust in the universe, we can begin by assigning more peaceful, loving meanings to what we experience.

Imagine, for example, that a friend fails to show up to a lunch date. You have choices as to what you will make this experience mean for you. You could allow being “stood up” to reinforce your feelings of unworthiness, you could begin to mentally attack your friend’s character, or you could assume that something big must have happened to cause them to miss the date–then, you might open yourself up to enjoying some relaxing time alone.

If you were recently laid off and are having difficulty finding a new job, consider that you might have hidden gifts or passions that were untapped in your regular career that you are now available to explore. The universe might simply be moving you in a more fulfilling direction. If you have recently lost a loved one, gained weight, lost money, or gotten in a fight with your partner, see if you can infuse the experience with meaning that feels loving and empowering and opens a door for you to embrace life and the world a bit more.

When we begin to bring consciousness to what we are making things mean, we may be shocked at the messages we have been feeding ourselves all these years. Try taking the reigns and begin assigning a kinder meaning to the events in your life and you will likely find yourself on a much more pleasant ride.

an excerpt taken from DailyOM  Meaning

a song by Akira Kosemura, Embers

A Moment of Reckoning


In a moment of reckoning.

My soul is awakened

Rising up gently

On the breath

Of life.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016


It can be the easiest thing in the world to follow the aspect of our personality that is logical and rational. It is easy because it is the side that is protective and guarded. The rational mind means well, but often times it prevents us from the abundance our spirit yearns to experience. This emperor like energy can prevent us from taking advantage of the opportunities that life brings our way. It is that overbearing voice criticising every last hope and ambition that rises up with each swelling of the heart. Eliminating every last shred of intuition. The one reason for that is doubt.

Tame the mind and start believing in yourself. If conformity is no longer serving your life; let it go. Find out what your blind spots are and make more room in your life for imagination. You might just surprise yourself. It takes a lot to step out in faith, trusting the goodness in yourself. Keeping an open heart. You just might discover that your heart isn’t inside of you, but that you’re inside your heart. Deng Ming-Dao says, “Imagination is a tool through which we can make our lives better, different, and creative. By cooperating with it, we can acheive things that ‘we never dreamed possible’.” Imagination can build bridges. Connect your life with love.


Recognizing and Releasing Forms of Fear


Recognizing fear


Leads to truth

Of experience

In this moment

Release the old

Welcome the new

Adjusting focus

Change and flow

Past the blockage

That no longer serves 

Its purpose

Releasing the fear

Of what might happen

Of making the wrong choice

Releasing into 

the compassion of


A gift, I give


© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

Today’s post was inspired by another post I stumbled upon in Instagram @shanananalove74:

What Are You Waiting For?

“I remember a time when I used to do a lot of waiting. With many decisions I would take the “wait and see” approach. So, I would wait and wait and wait. I would wait for the “right” time, some event to happen, enough money or for someone to give me permission. I realized after taking the “wait and see” approach for much of my adult life, that waiting, for me, was a form of fear. Fear of making the wrong choice fear that I wouldn’t follow through, fear of disappointing someone or myself, fear of the unknown or fear of what might change if I did follow through, but at the end of the day, it was all fear. I saw that if I kept waiting, I was cutting myself off from new experiences and new possibilities. If I kept waiting, I would spend the rest of my life waiting. Finally, at some point waiting became more painful than moving forward. So, I started making quicker decisions and letting my intuition guide me. I started doing things that scared me and stretched me outside my comfort zone. The more I did this the more my life expanded in extraordinary ways. I learned that stepping into the unknown is like a muscle and the more you work it the stronger you become and the more exciting life gets. It seems like the moment I stopped waiting is the moment I started living. Everyday I remind myself to keep stepping out. Even if I can’t see the path ahead, it always shows up to greet me just like magic. Each and every time.”

~Shana Ekedal


Mindful Bubbles

Like bubbles underwater thoughts rise up from the ocean of our mind. There can be so many bubbles. One thing to realize is that deeper thoughts have something to teach us. There are lessons to be learned when they rise to the surface. We can be out of touch with unconscious thoughts and desires, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t effect our lives. Conscious thoughts may reflect how we see things in everyday life, but so do those deeper thoughts, the ones that rise up from inner depths….and it can be dark down there. That is why it is so important to be mindful when they rise to the surface. There is such a need to be aware and clear of what it is that we want and desire. They will influence the outcome of our endeavors.

Where we put our focus will highly influence the energy of the thoughts that we produce. That is why meditation can be an effective tool in how we channel that focus. Recently, I stumbled across an excellent meditation that is good for visualizing positive outcomes in a given situation. Adding a few minor touches, I would like to share it here with all you valuable readers.

Close your eyes. Focus on a thought.

Let it rise to the surface of your mind’s ocean. 

See it float lightly up to the water’s surface. Then onto a smooth, glasslike surface.

Visualize that thought moving across the water; gliding serenely, yet steadfastly towards a horizon of light.

That thought is moving across an ocean of peace. Skitting to a perfect, harmonious outcome.

Towards a wide open space. A horizon of freedom.

Cultivating focus can truly be a rewarding and enriching practice that can help on the path to self-discovery. When change comes into our lives, its so easy to get caught up in reshaping outer circumstances instead of looking at Self. Sometimes change lies in the way we experience ourselves, in the way we see ourself. Deng Ming-Dao says, “It takes great courage to keep going beyond your limits. You keep doing the same thing, like musicians who make a career of performing the same tune. But no matter what your field of endeavor, you mustn’t do that. Don’t jump out of the same hole twice. You may not be as materially successful, but you will be more successful on a larger level.” Take time to reconnect with your own strength, courage, and happiness in a spirit of kindness and self-compassion. Namaste.

*photo credit belongs to Mark Tipple, http://www.marktipple.com/portfolio#0

*meditation credit http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-dragonfly.html

Right on Track


Sometimes we have to repeat certain words to ourselves over and over again. Over days and even weeks just to help keep our focus. To help pick us up when we have fallen over a negative thought or feeling. It’s like that story that Pema Chödrön tells about the Buddha:

“On the night on which he was to attain enlightenment, the Buddha sat under a tree. While sitting there, he was attacked by the forces of Mara. The story goes that they shot swords and arrows at him, and that their weapons turned into flowers.

What does this story mean? My understanding of it is that what we habitually regard as obstacles are not really our enemies, but rather our friends. What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we’re stuck. What may appear to be an arrow or a sword we can actually experience as a flower. Whether we experience what happens to us as an obstacle and enemy or as a teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality. It depends on our relationship with ourselves.”

Well, that is why over the last couple of weeks I have needed to repeat some words over and over again to myself. Because I have been experiencing a lot of obstacles and unpleasant circumstances….particularly arising from within my own thoughts and emotions.

Here is what I’ve have personally had to write and say to myself over and over again to transform those arrows and swords into flowers:

“I am right on track, right on schedule. I trust that everything is unfolding perfectly. All is well. I am free to enjoy myself. I am right where I need to be, when I need to be, how I need to be. My life is enough. I am enough. Everything I say or do is enough. In chaos or order, it is enough. My life is natural and wholesome. I am natural and wholesome. I have the grace to recognize and accept that. I have the grace to be free. I go on and on past this moment, past boundaries, past time, past understanding.  I am an infinite being. I AM Infinity, itself. I AM Essence.”

*this post is dedicated to a dear Twitter friend, Ishani, @musicmoonlove “Be blessed, Soul Sister.” ❤

*photo by Alisdair Miller, New Day



When mountains

Crumble down from tremors

Within the core.

When waves rise

Plunging faith to the depths

As hope gasps for breath.

Eruptions of perception

And awareness emerge

Into an inextricable unit.

Creation of experience,

The pearl of great price

As victory’s dust settles.

When heart and mind trust,

Anything is possible,


within Divine Source.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2007

Photo found on



The Freedom of the Nautilus


“Lovely shell, lovely image–I am tempted to play with it in my mind. Is this the symbol for another stage in relationships? Can we middle-aged argonauts when we outgrow the oyster bed, look forward to the freedom of the nautilus who has left its shell for the open seas? But what does the open sea hold for us? We cannot believe that the second half of life promises ‘fair weather and favorable winds.’ What golden fleece is there for the middle-aged?

In speaking of the argonauta one might as well admit one has left the usual shell collections. A double-sunrise shell, an oyster bed–these are common knowledge to most of us. We recognize them, they are part of our daily life and the lives of others around us. But with this rare and delicate vessel, we have left the well-tracked beaches of proven facts and experiences. We are adventuring in the chartless seas of imagination.

Is the golden fleece that awaits us some kind of new freedom for growth? And in this new freedom, is there any place for a relationship? I believe there is, after the oyster bed, an opportunity for the best relationship of all: not a limited, mutually exclusive one, like the sunrise shell, and not a functional, dependent one, as in the oyster bed; but the meeting of two whole fully developed people as persons.”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh~

*artist: Tamara Phillips,


Driver’s Ed. in Vienna


She left a trail of tickets when she jumped on a plane bound for Vienna, Austria. A trail of tickets which became a crucifix around her neck each time she got behind the wheel. She had an image to uphold, that of a sensible, trustworthy driver for her newly, married husband but especially for herself. Driving around the heart of Europe offered her the prime opportunity to make an impression. The stakes were low as she sported around in her hubby’s company beamer. It didn’t seem to matter to her husband that she wasn’t so good at learning stick, although other’s might have begged to differ on that view.

She had a few close calls, like the time she was trapped on one of Vienna’s many one-way streets going in the wrong direction. A Straßenbahn, otherwise known as the tram came directly towards her and one was closing in from the rear on the left-hand side. The only way out was to wait until the rear tram had passed and then make a backwards U-turn. After that experience she never sneered at the announcements on the Blue Danube Radio concerning ghost drivers on the Autobahn.

She managed to improve her skills at the stick shift over time or so she thought till her husband changed jobs and cars. With the arrival of a baby girl the decision was made to get a practical, family sized beamer with an automatic to ensure everyone’s safety. Safety from what….this Jekyll and Hyde behind the wheel…this monstrosity of a person who couldn’t get a grip on herself? Who was to say….certainly she herself wasn’t about to begin some extraordinary inward search for the truth.

The exchange of automobiles seemed to set a voodoo chain of events into motion. The automatic made life simpler, but the dangerous attitude of complacency wasn’t shy about being an unwelcome guest in her heart. The beamer would come home from time to time with a scratch or dent after spending time in the depths of some Viennese parking garage. There was also the revisiting curse of speeding tickets, occasionally accompanied by her sister, vexation of parking tickets. The stakes began to rise as she noticed her husband’s set jaw every time she put the keys in the ignition. The cool demeanour of the sensible, trustworthy driver began to erode under the pressure of guilt, doubt and mistrust.

Many a moon went by which brought the addition of a baby boy to the family. Talk of yet another automobile lodged the idea into her partner’s head that what the family needed was a truck. She had to smile at this notion inspired somehow by her own American roots, but financially she couldn’t bring herself to support this scheme. However, her husband’s persistence won in the end.

That sleek, black beauty breezed in as his new baby right from the start. At the time, what unconsciously added injury to insult was that he decided to go back to school to earn a Master’s in Business Administration because it only added to the financial strain from the purchase of black beauty. A firm believer in supporting the dreams of others and especially those of a loved one, she encouraged him to pursue his goals. As it turned out, sometimes the self-sacrifice was more than she bargained for, although she appeared to enjoy the role of being the martyr. A silent estrangement began to grow like a deadly cancer that goes undetected in the body.

Company policy grew stricter at work with the mutation of bosses which meant that black beauty could no longer accompany her dearest to work. The privilege was awarded to the company automatic beamer much to the personal dread of wife. Thus, enfolded a new dimension in her association with black beauty. Stick shift became the focal point of their unexpected connection. Driving black beauty definitely had it’s perks as well as drawbacks. It was always entertaining to see astonishment splash unto Viennese faces when they saw a woman in a truck. Parallel parking wasn’t even a vague consideration in her mind.


Over the next few months the truck went through a roller coaster ride of ordeals. It probably would be safe to say so did the people who engineered this vehicle. The rear end including the bumper had been smashed in after husband backed into a pole at the parking lot of a sports community centre. Everyone has accidents like this right? Cruising around with a deformed, Nissan pick-up took pride’s toll, so eventually it was sent to the repair shop. Just a week after black beauty showed her face at home a nervous, aged man slammed into wife from behind while she stopped for a little girl and father crossing over zebra stripes which coincidentally lead into another one-way. At this turn of events black beauty’s rear end emerged as an area of great sensitivity as it does for most feminine creatures.

In a matter of days, black beauty was no more. Husband’s baby had kicked the bucket. Another pesky, elderly imp of a man, who materialized out of the banished realm of nowhere rammed into the side as wife was barely slowing down for a yield sign into the intersection of Höhenstraße and Neuwaldeggerstraße. What was it with these old aged ogres of Vienna? It was her fault, no point in denying that as the reality of the situation. The registration papers had been removed since the truck had just been picked up at the garage two days earlier from the previous episode. As the looming clouds continued to darken, wife realized that she had forgotten her purse which contained her driver’s license. The impatient, cantankerous troll threatened to call the police if documentation didn’t emerge in a matter of magical minutes. Before damsel in distress knew what was happening, all the kings horses and all the kings men were being summoned to the crime scene.

Desperation surged in like the rise and fall of the tide from head to toe. The telephone call to her beloved wasn’t long since the entire incident had been disclosed just as if it had been any indifferent business transaction. Her husband with the coldness of winter in his voice asked her if she was hurt, and then upon hearing that she was still in one piece unreservedly and decisively informed his wife that he was in the most important business meeting of the year and could not leave. Therefore, she’d have to deal with the situation alone since he had absolutely no time. In that moment, a stone in her heart submerged her to the depths of nothingness.

She completed the entire routine with the police by rote. Firemen came and moved the truck from the middle of the intersection to the side of the road. She was stranded there for three hours since her husband wasn’t picking up the phone, no one could pick her up and she had no money to pay for a taxi.

One internal question persisted: “Was this the love she promised herself to for a lifetime?” So, she wept.

Eventually, the ÖAMTC, an Austrian motor club and travel organization, showed up to wheel black beauty out of sight. Not long after, the automatic beamer appeared from over the hills and far away to tote her home. The automatic beamer, which had seen better days, was being traded in for a new 520I BMW that consequently upheld the automatic tradition. While attending Dreams on Ice at the Vienna City Hall a few months after all the drama, wife was to learn that she wouldn’t be permitted the liberty of driving the 520I. Coming to grips with the “why and how” this message had been delivered, sent her reeling into a whirlwind of painful, emotional confusion. Doors perceptibly seemed to be closing all around, making her feel like a caged animal.

She had to make an escape even though they were driving to pick up the kids from his mothers’. When Schwarzenberg Café came into view, she mumbled that she had to be alone and exited the vehicle. Sitting down at a table by the window, the cozy comfort of the Viennese coffee-house began to weave its magic spell. A gentle memory drew near to assuage the stone weighing down on her heart and mind. This café had been the first real European café she had ever entered after wandering around Vienna like a frightened, yet elated, little church mouse, thankful to be in Europe…to know that Austria would be home. It was a moment not so different from this one to realize in reverent awe the joy of new discoveries…the joy of a new life. Perhaps now was another beginning.

At first not having to drive around the narrow streets was a welcome experience. However, it soon grew to be a nuisance which intensified her dissatisfaction with the quality of her present existence. Juggling kids, her job and the everyday responsibilities of having a home spurred the desire for a new car. When one of her students mentioned that she had a 10-year-old Opel with a stick shift in good condition, a discussion ensued between the dissidents of the household. A thorough inspection thereafter ushered the lackadaisical, fir-green tortoise into the long line of family autos.

Becoming acquainted with the tortoise wasn’t an easy task. It was like trying to make friends with a stubborn, crass old dame set in her ways, like the antique madams one meets on the streets within twisting,Viennese districts. The first excursion was taking the kids sledding just two kilometres down the road. She couldn’t coax the tortoise to start, all the while her son repeatedly asking, “Can’t you please make it go now? Why is it always not going?” Cursing the cranky vixen under her breath didn’t seem to help the situation. As she was trying to find where the lights turned on, she bumped a lever on the left side of the wheel turning on the windshield wipers, and for all she was worth, she couldn’t find where to turn them off again. The key continuously got stuck in the ignition, and when she shifted gears the old dame would stall.

The most nerve-racking problem of all was that she never had any way of knowing when the old dame was out of gas since the gauge was irreparable according to a warning from the previous owner. The owner had cautioned that when she would reach the 700 kilometre mark on the odometer it was time for a trip to the gas station. The old cranky tortoise certainly had an estranging sense of humor. For instance, the hatch had a knack of falling on the head whenever an attempt was made to put something in or take something out of the trunk. Whenever she turned off the engine, one of the headlights always appeared to stay on refusing to comply with the laws of physics. All in all, she had a peculiar connection to this old, quirky dame. Their affinity ran relatively smoothly for the first three-quarters of the year, besides the aforementioned eccentricities.


It was the first snow, when she had gone shopping with her sister to buy some Christmas lights. The accident occurred just around the corner from home. Although she was driving a safe distance behind the car in front of her, it stopped suddenly with no way to turn right or left. The only alternative was to slide into their rear end. The damage was minimal. It was the kind of coincidence that the universe brings when a lesson goes unlearned, reopening a deep inner wound. For Christmas, she received a gift certificate from her dearly, beloved husband for a ÖAMTC security driver’s training course.


The peevish nag on wheels was due for a check-up, after returning from the garage the tortoise was geared up for the next driving adventure despite all the adjustments. Her owner on this occasion had a need for a fine tune-up as well. It was the impact of the last accident that gave birth to a fresh perspective. Wife no longer felt the compulsion to foster the illusion that she was a sensible, trustworthy driver.

On a grander scale, there was no need to pretend that she had it all together any more. The truth was that she didn’t, and it was OK. An understanding of being true to oneself was born through the acceptance of how she drove her car. There was no longer reason to fear disregard or rejection because she didn’t have to pass judgement on herself. The healing of inner reconciliation did wonders for the stones in her heart and mind. This new relaxed outlook brought confidence in herself as well as in her driving experience. Whoever would have imagined that Driver’s Ed. in Vienna could contribute to this most valuable lesson of self-awareness and inner growth on the soul journey of being true to oneself?


 Copyright © 2006 Salem Islas-Madlo