Monday, December 26, 2011

Hanging with Al and Shirley

My husband's father passed in 1983, quite unexpectedly, the day after spending a glorious Christmas with his loving family.  It had been the first Christmas I spent with my yet-to-be-in-laws ~ the only one that I'd spend with Al.  My husband is the youngest of four children, and by the time I came on the scene, there were already spouses and grandchildren added to  mix.  I have just one sister, and she didn't yet have a spouse or children, so the Meyer family Christmas seemed like a circus to me.  Their family defied what I'd heard from my other friends in large families; lots of bickering, complaining and taking sides.  This family Christmas felt truly joyous and harmonious, not just people on their best behavior for one day.  I envied their high energy.  And David's father, Al, was the epitome of a kind, loving, generous family man.

It was surreal, then, to be thrust, on the very next day, into the depths of fear, sadness...and finally grief with these same people. My husband and his Dad had been out shoveling snow when the heart attack came....and Al passed on later that day.  Looking back, I might have thought, "this is it, then.  This is when the truth about this seemingly loving family comes out."  Immersed in the intensity of the moment, of course, I didn't think that at all, and it would have been a wasted thought anyway.  The same family that had hekd each other in joy, came together in grief, supporting and loving each other in kindness and with tenderness.  I realize now that this was Al's legacy to his family, and whenever they are holding each other in such grace and tenderness, he is with them. 

Al's passing was nearly thirty years ago, and while there have been family tensions and arguments, I am still inspired by the ones I now call my "in-loves," rather than my in-laws.  We have scatted like the wind around the country, and we didn't spend this holiday together, not in the Physical, anyway.  Truly, they are all in my heart ~ on Christmas and always.

Last week, as I was pulling the Cristmas (reduce! reuse!) gift bags out, I found some that still say "To Cheryl From Mom" on them.  I can't bear to remove those tags.  I did, however, remove the tissue paper from one (reuse!), and I found a gift card that she had given me on her last Christmas.  "How sweet," I thought.  She is still giving me gifts. 

I always felt sorry for people, like my in-loves, who lost a loved one at a holiday time, thinking it would surely be impossible to ever enjoy the day ~ whatever day ~ completely again. My mother's date of transition didn't fall on any holiday, but her birthday is December 24. Christmas was always a special time for us, especially after she moved to California to be near me and her grandchildren. So Christmas time is still I time that I think about her a lot, and I miss her especially.

What I realize now, however, is that neither the day nor time affects how much you miss a loved one on a holiday. There are simply particular points on each trip around the Sun when a departed loved one is more prominently on your mind and in your heart.  FInding that gift card made me realize that this is more than a sentimentality.  I believe our departed loved ones know when we need them most, and they truly are with us.  That's why we feel so much more emotion on such days.  It's not that we are "missing" them more at those times, but that we are actually feeling their Presence.  I'm glad to have spent some time with my mom this Christmas. I'm looking forward to spending today with Al.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

To RSVP or not to RSVP...

To RSVP, or not to RSVP--that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to give notice of one's intentions ~ or to play it by ear and Go with the Flow. 

All the events I've hosted and attended (or not) this holiday season have me thinking about the simple act of asking for and giving (or not) an RSVP.  To be sure, when I am hosting, I appreciate people telling me in advance that they are coming, so that I can plan.  And yet, the reality is that, despite all of the good intentions, the Ones Who RSVP are rarely the same as the Ones Who Show Up. 

I understand this completely, as it is so often the case that the event to which I RSVP early, mark in red on my calendar, and make detailed plans to precisely the event I miss because of some unplanned occurrence, a sick child, a mix-up in child care, or I'm just plain too run-down to go. 

As an invited guest, then, I don't like to RSVP.  By RSVPing, I feel I've given up all intention of living spontaneously and being In the Moment.  Even if the calendar is full of events I am truly exciting to attend, I feel stuck when I look at a calendar chock full of appointments.  It feels more natural and more free to stay in Flow, and go where time allows and Spirit calls.  And then, if I do show up, having not RSVP'd, there is that happy moment of Surprise! when I do walk in the door. 

Of course, that moment of surprise may only be happy for me if the host has carefully planned supplies and refreshments for a specific number.  It also feels disrespectful of the host's time and energy not to have let them know that I'm coming.  And I know it can feel deflating to invite people to an event, and then have few people RSVP. Then again, it also feels disrespectful to RSVP and then not show up. 

Sigh.  What a modern day, spiritual, practical conundrum.

I suppose it's all a matter of setting a clear intention and clear communication.  So...'tis kinder of heart to respond ("I do intend to attend"), while also communicating with the respect ("and I am honored to be invited"), as well as accommodating Flow ("Goddess willing and Spirit don't conflict!").  Now, will eVite please put a box like that on their invitations? It just might resolve RSVPing issues for a lot of us.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Personal Day of Grieving...for "no reason"

I hereby declare Friday, December 16, 2011 my personal day of grieving. Not that anything momentous has happened today.  Nor that the date carries any particular significance. It’s just Time. Finding gift bags with tags written in my mother’s handwriting (“To Cheryl From Mom”), looking through pictures of thousands of homeless kittens, my friend’s son shot down in the street, wolves gunned down from the air….I’m weeping and wailing for each one, for every mother who has ever lost a child, for every pet wandered away from home, for every disrespected creature…and for myself. While it feels awful, I suppose there is some efficiency in this plan, this personal day of grieving; working out all the hurtful stuff at once.

Indeed, these hurts all feel the same; they all feel like Separation. “How can she or he be gone?” “I miss her.” “How can anyone kill a beautiful creature?” It's all about me missing them, me judging Them, me weeping for those we have “lost.” It implies a separation between me and another that I simply do not believe, in my heart, exists.  When I'm in tune with Onenes, there is no hurt, only peace.  Joy.  Bliss.

And yet this grieving is seductive. Most days, I run from it, I bury it, I hide from it. But when I give in to it, I succumb completely. I weep, I wail, I pound the floor. I While it doesn’t feel good, there is relief in feeling it. It occurs to me that this is part of its gift, this grief of mine. Most days, I’m moving so quickly through the day, that my feet hardly touch the ground. I bounce, like Mario from toadstool to brick wall, barely touching down before racing on. Sure, I pray and meditate every morning (or nearly every), and that gets me to a warm and fuzzy place. Then it’s off to the races. 

So today I accept feeling, without judgment (“I should be over this by now”) and without regret (“what a waste of time”), I’m simply grieving. And feeling.  Never mind the floor pounding.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Tree Angst - Part Two

Even if I find that precious nook where a Christmas tree can be displayed, the next weighty issue is the matter of what kind to get.  While it might seem that artificial trees are the more environmentally-friendly way to go ~ it saves the life of a tree, at least ~ there's a lot of petroleum products required to produce and transport the trees.  And we already have a lovely artificial tree, albeit too big for current purposes, and so it seems silly to buy another artificial tree. And yet I cannot bear the thought of a living tree ~ a living, breathing friend ~ being cut down for the simple purpose of adorning my home for a month.

My tree friends tell me that they do not mind. They are happy to be taken into someone's home to be admired and given a place of honor. They are most pleased to reconnect those of us who spend most of our time indoors with the beauty and grandeur that Nature bestows upon a single tree. They say, "it's good to be loved, and we are glad to be of service."

And my human friends tell me that it's okay to buy a cut tree because these trees are raised for this purpose.  They come from managed farms, not from clear-cutting an old growth forest.  My friends have made a considered choice in choosing to love a cut tree, and I honor their decision.  For me, however, I prefer to honor a living tree, one that can be loved and admired long after the New Year.  Since the recent wind storm took out so many of our lovely old trees, and there are still many hillsides denuded by fire, this seems a win-win choice. 

And so I consider the costs and practicalities of leasing versus buying....and then the Universe takes the matter into her own hands ~ or branches, shall we say.  I won a Christmas tree!  I won't say what kind because it's unkind to look a gift tree in the pine cone.  I am simply grateful to be relieved of this endless internal debate.  And now I can move on to the matter of uncovering that precious nook....   

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Tree Angst-Part One

Twelve years ago, when we first moved into this lovely old house, our very first house, with its long living room with high ceiling, I imagined a grand Christmas tree, the kind you see in old Hollywood films, placed perfectly so in front of the arch window.  My first baby was born just a few weeks before Christmas that year, so my nesting instincts were in full swing.  We did buy a gorgeous nine foot tall artificial tree that year.  It was expensive, but it was an investment in Family Christmas, and all the joyous family Christmases to come.  We had little furniture in the living room, at that point, as we had moved from an apartment to this bigger space.  So the tree was truly a grand focal point of the room.

Fast foward to present day, and my "baby" boy is twelve.  The living room seems to have shrunk.  I just realized that there's no longer space for the grand tree, not without blocking the projection screen TV and putting some of our accumulated possesions out on the lawn for a month or so.  Now I'm looking for a nook or cranny, anyplace, where I can stick a Charlie Brown size Christmas tree.  I feel sick.  Where did all this STUFF come from? We certainly aren't hoarders.  And yet we've managed to fill this place to the brim in a few years.  My grandparents lived in a much smaller house for sixty years.   Would anyone be able to walk through this house if we lived here another fifty years??

The Christmas Tree Dilemma has me noticing just what we have accumulated over the past dozen years.  I look around our home, and I see my the rocking chair in which my mother rocked me, the pine needle baskets my mother-in-law wove, the cedar chest in which my grandmother stored her trousseau, the mantle clock my grandfather wound nightly, the church doors from my beloved friend's home, the Quan Yin statue that sat in our now-closed store, the dioramas my children made ~ and even the stash of materials for projects not yet created. 

Seen this way, this stuff no longer feels like "stuff," as in the dictionary definition of "worthless things or matter."  These are venerable old friends that reverberate with the spirit of our loved ones, near and far, living and passed ~ and even our past and future selves.  They remind me of the Velveteen Rabbit.  They have been loved enough to become Real.  So what's a moment of high maintenance grandeur compared to living, day in and day out, with the furniture Sages, the living Memories, and the Portent of that which is yet to be created?

I Held my Mother's Hand Today

I was enjoying a rousing conversation in my head today, when I realized it was just the sort of conversation I would have had with my mother before she passed.  Contemplating the various merits of "shopping local" and creating community versus internet deals and making efficient use of precious land's just the sort of thing we could have sorted out together, collaboratively and enjoyably.  Only she wasn't in the car with me, nor will she be again, not in the physical, anyway. 

Or was she?  It occurred to me that this thought didn't come out of "nowhere," and it could well have been Divine Inspiration.  My mother loved nothing more than a good conversation,  so I decided to include her in this one.  I reached over to "her" side of the car, and held her hand.  And I began to talk.  Just like old times.  And I knew I wasn't alone.   

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ode to Nate

I opened the door to find a smiling, bright young man who introduced himself as Nate.  I am ashamed to say that I cringed.  I do admire these young people, putting themselves out there, selling door-to-door in jaded, cynical, fearful Los Angeles.  It must be so scary! I barely made it around to the neighbors I knew well when I was selling Girl Scout cookies, Watkins vanilla, and some kind of greeting cards.  Truth is, I cringe because I don't want any newspapers or magazines or candy ~ and I am a softie that hates to say no.

Nate was as personable and charming as any of them.  I liked him instantly.  He made a good pitch for the magazines. "You can even donate a subscription to your favorite charity," he explained.  Quickly, before I caved, I explained about how I buy all the magazines I want from the kids' school fundraiser and about how I love trees, and how it pains me that so few mags are printed on recycled paper, and I don't want any more trees killed for glossy, slick pages....I literally saw Nate deflate as I spoke.  His chest caved in and the corners of his eyes turned down. 

I felt horrible. I am committed to the upliftment and empowerment of human consciousness, after all, and here I dashed the dreams of this beautiful young spirit.  Then again, I am also committed to respectful and sustainable use of Earth's resources.   How can I honor both?

As soon as I closed the door, and Nate walked out of sight, I asked myself, "why didn't I talk to Nate about joining me in one of my business ventures, one that honors the Earth, empowers people, and engages the Spirit?"  I considered chasing him down the street.  Instead, I prayed for another chance with Nate, if it was in our best interest. 

And that's when I realized the Truth:  Nate doesn't need me to save him, nor will he perish if I don't chase him down.  Nate is on his journey, and I am on mine.  Our paths crossed for a moment, and I learned something.  I'm grateful to Nate for this.  I hope he's grateful, in some small way, that he met me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Eyes Behind the Lies

I'm telling myself some truly outrageous lies today.  Like about how it's somebody else's fault , and that I can't be happy until somebody else does something they aren't doing.  In my heart of hearts, I know none of it is true.  My solemn intention for some time has been to release blame because, well, it's like that saying about resentment: it's like swallowing poison and hoping someone else will die. 

I know it's hopeless, useless, and, let's not forget, unkind, to blame other people for my own angry thoughts.  Happiness is an inside job, I tell my children.  It's all "my movie," as my friend Loren would say.  Still, the old habits can be so seductive.  I find myself savoring this trip down Blame-and-Complain Lane. 

And yet, even as I hear my words, I can feel the Presence peering in on me.  It looks like a pair of Eyes behind my physical eyes ~ Eyes that see the Truth ~ looking at me from the inside. The "Eyes behind the lies" I call it. 

"Are you done yet?"
"Nope, but thanks for asking."
"Are you believing any of what you're saying?"
"Not a word.  But I'm enjoying this moment immensely."
"Actually, I'm miserable.  But still not ready."

As miserable as it feels to hang onto being miserable, I take a perverse pleasure in choosing it.  And yet my conversation with the Eyes reminds me that I don't have to stay here.  And I can choose ~ and I always have the choice ~ to let it all go.  If I really want to.  Now that's the key.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Captivating Scenery

Having grown up in the Midwest, I am still blown away by what my California-born children take for granted.  Driving through the high desert panorama of drunken slabs of rock, beard stubble mountains and polydactyl Joshua trees, their noses are buried in their devices. Having lived here their whole lives, they see nothing out of the ordinary. Growing up in the age of nonstop diversion, they see nothing out of their windows that's "interesting."  The last living dinosaur could wander out of a canyon, and they wouldn't know it.  Maybe if Bruno Mars or Taylor Swift popped up, they'd get interested.  Or would it take a total battery failure to get them to turn from the electronics?

Later this night, my daughter spins in her seat, so that her head rests on the arm of her seat, looking up at the light show in the sky.  She stares intently, as if watching her favorite movie.  She is awed by the black of the night and the sheer number of stars in the sky.  No dinosaurs or pop stars in sight; just the depth and blackness of night that we just don't get in Los Angeles.  I'm glad that there's something out there that's interesting after all.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks Giving

Holidays inspire and embolden me to say what is wanting to be said, but too often isn't. "Happy Thanksgiving!" I cry out to the Spanish-speaking family at the QuikMart at the truck stop, not knowing if they speak any English at all. Their bright eyes and smiles remind me that we share the language of humanity: Love.

On this day of thanks giving, I am grateful to be a member of this community of human-kind.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Battle of The Voices

For all my brag and bluster about blogging regularly, the little nagging voice asks, "but will anybody care?"  As of this, my fiftieth post, after three years of periodic blogging, I have nine brave followers.  That same nagging voice wants to say, "nine followers? And six of them are related to you?  Big deal!"  But that doesn't sound very grateful, particularly on this eve of the day of Thanksgiving.  Truly, I'm grateful to anyone who listens to my blathering on, here or anywhere else.

I'm currently re-reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and so I recognize that little voice as Resistance.  "Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.  It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole."  Sure, it would be a lot easier, save me some time, if I gave up blogging altogether, and would spare me the potential embarrassment, if I gave up baring my soul in cyberspace.  But why give in to something as creepy as Resistance?  Pressfield says, "Resistance has no conscience....Resistance is always lying and is always full of shit." 

Divine Inspiration, on the other hand, has given me only gifts, speaks only Truth, and loves me no matter what.  I think I'll listen to the other little voice, the one that says go write down your Soul, go pray with trees, and go dance in the moonlight.  I like writing a lot more than I like doing what it ould take to silence the Muse.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Embracing the Impossible

I went to a workshop on blogging last week, and someone asked the inevitable question, “how often should we blog?” I waited with the proverbial baited breath for the answer I expected but didn't want to hear ~ “at least once a week” ~ because I struggle to enter a post a couple of times a month. My jaw fell to the floor when the speaker responded, “at least three to four times a week.” Instantly, I thought, “that’s impossible! I’ll never do that. I may as well leave now.” I stuck it out, but I spent the rest of the workshop feeling disappointed that I could never be a successful blogger.

As soon I got in the car, all set to have a mental dialog with myself about what I’d heard and the discipline required, I knew the jig was up. Whenever I hear something that irritates me, I know it’s for me to look into…and perhaps even embrace. Whatever I resist, persists, and I'm all about getting unburdened and FREE. So here I am. Blogging. At least three to four days a week.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Easy Out

What’s funny about rain after living in Southern California for some 20+ years now is that it still kick starts my old snowstorm program. What used to mean “stay off the streets for safety” is now a “mandate to sit on the couch for a day and watch movies.” Well, that was often the result of the old snowstorm program, too, but there’s no “stay home for safety” reason attached to rain. Not really, anyway, though some argument could be made for avoiding mudslides and the hazard of hydroplaning on our oily streets in the rain. That all sounds pretty lame, though, for someone who once braved the snowy and icy streets on a daily basis every winter. It doesn’t take long to wimp out living here, though. Which makes me wonder about my easy life, in general. I don’t lack food or shelter or clothing...or love. What easy-out excuses am I accepting because I enjoy an easy life?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Does the Faucet Know?

Does the faucet know? Ever since we bought the replacement (yet to be installed), the old faucet has been behaving itself. Still not as agile as a youngster, it has been moving from side to side without the crunchy sound, and the sprayer will retract back into place again. Barely a week ago, it seemed permanently face-planted in the sink like an ineibriated party guest out on the lawn.

Did the faucet hear us complaining about its performance and decide to shape up? If I truly believe, as I say I do, that All is One, that God is in and of everything and everyone, then I’m holding Divinity in the palm of my hand when I’m at the sink spraying the dishes.

Or is it that, once I ordered the new faucet, I considered the problem solved. No more focus on “what’s wrong,” putting attention (and intention) instead on what’s fixed, what’s taken care of, and what’s working. Energy flows where attention goes, and so the stickiness and crunchiness dissolved when I let go of them?

Or maybe it’s some of each ~ and some more of what I haven’t even imagined. In any case, I am grateful that it’s working again. Between it and the new one stashed away, I have a lot bigger window for focusing on what’s working….and hope that takes my mind off the printer problem!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In The Soup

I went to the home of my dear friends on their last day in my town. Early the next morning, they would be setting out across country for a new job, a new home, a new life in a new city. Today, they are working frantically to clear out their home, to pack and load the precious belongings which would travel with them across country. They took a moment from their efforts for a ceremony to honor their home, the only home that their children have ever known, and to bless their journey. As we joined hands in circle, their excitement was palpable. I took a joy ride, energy surfing on the cresting wave of their eager anticipation. I felt a twinge of envy at their fresh start, their plunge into the uncharted waters of The Great Unknown, of What is To Be, and the revealing of what Is.

I got back into my car, and, in a moment, I felt deflated. My friends' path is clear. The new job has been secured. Their belongings are nearly packed. Their travel itinerary is laid out. They have decided on new schools for the children. Their course seems so certain, and mine so completely unknown. And yet I know that this packing and driving is only the tip of their New Adventure Iceberg. They have many choices and discoveries yet to be made.

In truth, I am on the threshold of a new adventure myself. I recently learned that, after two years of study and practice, I passed the certification exam of the Institute of Modern Wisdom and I'm now a full-fledged practitioner. Yet, I wonder what this means? How am I to be in the world now, and what do I have to offer? I feel that I, too, have my energy tank fueled and my consciousness vehicle pointed clearly onto a new path. But where does it lead? Where am I headed? Where is my Life Journey GPS?

Ah, the sweet elixir of life's soup, of knowing and unknowing, of believing and disbelieving, of allowing and disallowing. With every spoonful, I have the choice of scooping up something sweet, something sour, something well-cooked or something raw, something meaty or something effervescent. And so when I find myself chewing on something unsavory, I know I have the choice to put the spoon back in the pot, deliberately this time, with clear Intention, and select something delectable, exquisite, and more to my liking. The key is remembering to make the choice, the Conscious, Deliberate choice. The time of worrying about what may come or dwelling on lack is over. I choose to choose.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Uncommon Sense

My dance teacher Darcel says that if the next step seems natural, then it’s probably the wrong one. I think of this as I wonder how often I make a decision based on what “makes sense.” So often I think I’m making a decision based on what my intuition tells me, a clear divination. “It just feels right,” I say, and charge ahead. Yet when I am really tuned in, really clearly communicating with Source, the information I receive rarely “makes sense.” Invariably, it challenges me on some level, often to the point of thinking “that can’t be right. Doesn’t make sense.”

I used to be a complete and total news addict. I felt my entire value as a human being depended on me keeping up-to-date with current events, politics, and trends. I was my own personal compute-er, receiving and processing the intake from the nightly news, NPR, CNN and the LA Times. A couple of years ago, I pulled the plug. It was a shock at first, and now feels completely liberating. Now I spend more time listening, craning my inner ear to hear, the sound of that small still voice of Divinity.

In a sense, I suppose nothing has changed. I am still consumed with Intake and Processing. I have simply repositioned my receiver. My intention now is to tune into Pure Consciousness, Love, and Truth.

The signal isn’t always as clear as I’d like, to be sure. In fact, it reminds me of the scratchy reception I got on the old transistor radio which I snuck into bed with me at night as a kid. Back then, I could not have cared less about the interference because I was so excited to have any kind of reception, as magical (not to mention illicit) as it was. Then came stereo receivers and then digital transmission. Now, I quickly flick to the next station at the first indication of poor sound quality. Yes, the signals are better, and there are so many more of them, too. Indeed, the flood of information comes so fast and furious these days it’s no wonder I struggle to figure out from where my “intelligence” is coming.

Which brings me back to Darcel. And the transistor radio. The invitation, it seems, is to let go of what “makes sense.” And to tune back in to that thrill of the magic of wireless communication. Albeit scratchy and unclear, it is thrilling to receive information from The Great Beyond. Especially if it doesn't make sense. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Faith Ferry

The sun shines on me warmly, and I am grateful for the cool breeze as I face the labyrinth. What question shall I ask for pondering, for contemplation as I walk? I’ve come to the labyrinth by whim, coincidentally, after having lunch with the friend who first introduced it to me. After I dropped her off, I discovered the car was so low on gas I feared I would not make it home, so I stopped in a gas station I don’t usually frequent. Leaving the station, I obeyed the little voice that said, “turn right,” instead of making the left that would lead me to the direct path home. I do believe that there are “no accidents” in this life, so I considered “why am I here?” as I drove up Glendale Blvd., surveying Atwater Village. I considered my usual favorites, Crystal Matrix and Jill’s Paint, but neither called to me. Then Forest Lawn came into view, and I knew. It’s time to walk the labyrinth again.

Driving the winding roads of Forest Lawn, I am quickly enveloped in the Love consciousness contributed by so many visitors who have come here bestowing blessings on their loved ones. Just being in this place puts me into an altered state, as if the veil is thinner here, and I feel the Presence more intimately. I park at the labyrinth, and take a moment to Check-In on Facebook at “....soul searching.”

Standing at the entry point, it occurs to me that this unplanned trip makes the question, “Why am I here?” all the more poignant. And I walk. Intentional step by intentional step. It occurs to me that it’s quite fitting for a Tree Priestess (She Who Prays with Trees) to be soul searching in a place called “forest lawn.” I thank the trees.

I reach the center and quiet my mind. No bolt of lightning nor earth shattering revelations come to mind, and yet I feel a shift. I walk back out, feeling, knowing and trusting that the answers have arrived, even if not yet received by my conscious awareness. Back in the car, I post, “Soul found.”

Fast forward two weeks. It’s the New Moon, and mercury is direct again. I am on fire with ideas for developing and shaping my business ventures. The heaviness and doubt that weighed upon me at the Full Moon have lifted, and I feel unstoppable. I know that Spirit is ever present, ever guiding, ever Being in my life, with me, through me, as me.

The labyrinth experience reminds me that there is much more happening than what I see with me eyes or than what I can figure out with my mind. Ask, and it shall be given you. So often I ask, and then begin doubting before what I want has manifested. I know that every prayer is answered. The trick is to remember that every thought is a prayer.

Faith is the ferry that carries me, in Trust and Knowing, from the time that I Ask until the time when the answer is manifest. The ferry is a powerful means of transportation, where I can park my vehicle, and let somebody else drive until the destination is reached. There are no oars for me to power, and no paddles for me to row. What a delightful way to travel.  I highly recommend the Faith Ferry. Perhaps I'll Yelp it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Last Time Ever I Legolanded

I don’t know if this past weekend visit to Legoland was our last, but it’s a distinct possibility. At ages ten and almost twelve, our kids are quickly outgrowing the little kid coasters and baby rides. On our way to Carlsbad, I determined to savor every moment of the weekend, in case it truly was the last. We have such a family history of going to Legoland: for end-of-summer vacations, for birthdays, and even to celebrate David being able to walk without crutches again. I love that the park is a manageable size, that there’s always a cool coastal breeze even in the heat of August, that the lines are so short compared to the bigger parks, and that they have so many rides that I am not afraid to ride! I fact, I used to tell my family that I’d still be going to Legoland, after they’d outgrown it because it’s “just my speed.” It’s truly been therapy for me on so many levels, from the giggles and grins, to the conquering my fear of really small heights. I have been very fearful of heights, and I really am a wimp when it comes to roller coasters. I have gone from the thrill of riding the littlest Dino coaster (my first coaster in decades) to riding the tallest, the Technic Test Track coaster just last weekend! That one used to terrify me. Now it’s a thrill! Suffice to say, I have a lot more invested in Legoland than just the tired feet and dollars spent.

As it happens, I was determined to savor this trip because of our bathtub. The kids don’t take baths anymore, and honestly, I can’t remember the last time one of them did. I passed by the bathtub last week, and tears tumbled when I realized I didn’t remember THE LAST TIME. That led to thinking of all the “last times” I don’t remember. When was the last time we had a car seat in the car? The last time Cameron used a pacifier? The last time Chloë sat in a high chair or slept in her sweet little bassinette?
I suppose that, at the time the moment of transition, we’re celebrating, not looking back. How liberating to be able to travel without a car seat! What a “big boy” to give up the pacifier! Why does it feel so sad, then, to look back and not remember a moment not deemed worthy of special consideration at the time? Thinking back to the weekend, what made it so special is not that it was “the last time.” What made it special is that I set an intention to, and DID, enjoy each moment fully. Aha. This is yet one more reminder to Be Present Always. If I’m truly Present for each and every moment, then I know I’ve given each moment all that I have. And then there’s nothing to regret.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Circus Circus

I recently went to a place I never thought I’d go again: The circus. Yes, the traditional kind with animals in cages, the mere thought of which pains me deeply. And yet my daughter begged and begged to go. Surely the circus has come a long way since the old days of inflicting abject cruelty to tame wild animals, right? PETA and SPCA and public opinion have whipped them into shape by now, surely? So when I got the email offering discount circus tickets, I bought ‘em. For Chloë.

My hopes for a kinder and gentler circus were dashed when we were greeted by the protesters carrying posters of abused circus animals outside the arena. My son said, “You brought us to the cruelest place on Earth? Really, mom?” Hot tears streamed down my cheeks, and I hung my head as I walked past them. And yet I held out hope that these were folks were fanatics who would never be happy, bearing pictures from practices long since abandoned. When we got to our seats, I fired up Google from my cell phone and read about leg shackles, bull hooks, whips, and cramped cages. I felt sick.

I kept reminding myself of my belief that everything happens for a reason. So why was I here?

When the line of elephants walked out, I got my answer. They said quite unequivocally that they are here as volunteers. Elephants have agreed to participate with humans in the manner of the circus so that we may have greater interaction with other species, even if in the most unnatural of environments. They said that we humans have isolated ourselves from nature and the natural systems, the consequences and repercussions of which we are barely beginning to understand. They said they are here to give humans the opportunity to reconnect with our collective memory of living in relationship with other species, rather than in domination. If elephants must dance to get our attention, they will do it because they are so generous in spirit and they love us; they love this Planet.

Experiencing the majesty of a single elephant can trigger Remembering, even if only unconsciously, of how we are to respect all of the noble dwellers of this lovely spaceship Planet Earth. After all, elephants “never forget.” On a soul level, neither do we.

In Animal Speak, Ted Andrews says that “Elephants show great affection and loyalty to each other. Older calves will help younger siblings. Grown elephants will help sick and wounded comrades. In the elephant are the ideals of true societies.” It seems that, not only for each other, they have great affection and loyalty to us, as well. Aristotle said the elephant was "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind." I wonder if he meant to include humans in with “all others.”

But wait, they had more to say. The elephants also told me that many other species are choosing to depart the Planet at this time, voluntarily, because they no longer choose to live where the Earth Mother is so widely and profoundly disregarded. If we humans want to commit climactic and environmental suicide, so be it, but they decline to participate. Indeed, they say it’s arrogant of humans to think that there is anything at all that we could do to cause any life form to be extinct. All animals, indeed all LIFE, have free will. Animals and plant species have come and gone throughout the millennia of our planet’s history, without guilt or blame, weeping or wailing. Each spirit comes to this planet for a specific and unique experience and contribution. When that experience is complete, the species moves on or evolves or goes elsewhere. I can’t begin to understand, let alone explain, the deeper reality of this. I was told simply that the animals being born on Planet Earth today choose to be here at this time to offer guidance and to act as catalysts to inspire change. Those that are choosing not to be here are doing so of their own choice. And that we aren’t “losing” polar bears; we are losing our ability to see polar bears.

I bless the elephants for inviting me to their circus. I honor them for their work with us and their patience with our slow rate of learning. And I will always choose to see polar bears.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Last Wishes

“I am booking a condo at the beach, one big enough for all of us, with a view of the ocean, and an accessible path to the beach.” These words triggered the last argument my mom and I ever had. She was furious because she felt I didn’t understand that the chemo left her too weak to want to travel, that she wanted to recuperate in her own bed. Even more critically, she felt thought that my planning such a trip meant I doubted that she would ever get well. She needed desperately for me to believe that she would kick this pesky lung cancer the way she had recovered from breast cancer, as,I realize now, she was trying to convince herself of that very thing. She assured me that we could all go on vacation together “next summer, after I get better.”

She never got better, not long enough for us to go on a vacation together, anyway. Nor did she live to see the next summer. I confess that there’s a part of me that is still angry at her for that. Not only did she not want a special vacation, but she didn’t want to discuss anything related to her impending transition from this life. She didn’t want to discuss her finances, disposition of her assets, or even any parting words for her beloved grandchildren. She had no bucket list.

A good friend of mine advised me to honor her wishes and her timing. He said that everyone gets to the point of being ready to talk about these things; it’s just a lot later than sooner for some people.

Honor her wishes, I did. As best I could, anyway. With doctors and nurses whispering grave prognoses in one ear, and her angry words echoing in the other, I prayed for the best and prepared for The Talk. It never came. She never did get to that point of wanting to discuss her assets nor impart words of wisdom. I felt cheated. I felt I had done my part, and she had not done hers.

Fast forward two years. My dear friend and mentor entered his final phase of this life. As active in the community as he was, he was deeply private about his personal matters. I respected him deeply and so I resisted the urge to call and say, “can I come over to say good-bye?” It was wrenching. I wanted desperately to heal the wound I still nursed from my mother’s passing by sharing words of closure and passage with my friend. And yet I did not call, I did not drop by. I said prayers. I sent a card. And I honored his privacy.

Part of me wants to scream out in protest. “The end of this life isn’t just about you dying people! What about those of us continuing on? This is an ending for us, too, the end of a profound relationship. We have our own final wishes, our own needs for closure. ” I wonder: In honoring their wishes so meticulously did I let myself down in some way? Did I fail to honor the stirrings of my own heart, the whisperings of my spirit?

Then Love rushes in. When I remember how I loved my mother and my friend, when I allow myself to feel the vastness, the enormity, the all-encompassing nature of Love, there is no I.  I want only to honor, to give.  I want only what my beloveds want most for themselves. I want nothing more than to respect their final wishes. It is my final gift to them, indeed the only gift I have to offer.

“Love is patient and kind…..It does not insist on its own way…”

It occurs to me that I have not let myself down at all. I have let myself Love. And Love needs no closure.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tribute to an Extraordinary Friend

John Stillion landed in my living room a few weeks after I was elected to the first-ever Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. He was grand and elegant, equally reserved and irreverent, at the same time courteous and casual. I was intrigued. Little did I know I had been enchanted by the everyday magic of John Stillion.

I remember the day he came into the Blissful Soul, sat down on the couch and shared with me his latest idea, that of acquiring 4.5 acres adjacent to the Eagle Rock, on which a hiking trail would be built all with volunteer labor, adorned by wildflowers and offering vistas to the sea, free and open to the public. The idea was outrageous and untenable, and yet tears rolled down my cheeks as he spoke. I knew not how this outrageous idea would come to pass, but by his words, his passion and his vision, I saw it already done, a fait accompli. I committed myself in that moment to doing whatever I could to help manifest the vision of the Eagle Rock Canyon Trail.

John Stillion saw beyond what most of us see in the day-to-day reality of this world. It was as if he viewed the world through a stereoscope, with one eye seeing What Is, and the other eye seeing, with equal clarity, What Could be; indeed, What SHALL Be. His greater gift was his ability to SHARE his vision with such clarity and certainty as to bring it into reality, into present time, for the rest of us. His words planted a seed in the womb of our collective consciousness, his passion inspired each of us to participate, to come water the seed, feed the seedling, weed around it, and then step back and admire what “we” have done. What seemed outrageous and untenable that day in The Blissful Soul is today the Eagle Rock Canyon trail, built by all volunteer labor, adjacent to the Eagle Rock, adorned with wildflowers; one that I climb weekly to admire the vistas to the sea.

John Stillion possessed an uncanny ability to see the true strengths of anyone, as if he peered into your soul and connected with the truth of you, knew your purpose, your reason for being here. In the course of a casual conversation, he read your strengths, fired up your imagination, and engaged your spirit. When John Stillion invited you to lend your uncovered gifts to a cause or an event, you felt honored to be asked to participate, as if you had been handed an elegant, engraved invitation, rather than feeling roped into an obligation, duty-bound to show up. This gift of his brought people who hadn’t put their hands in the earth in decades out to plant in the medians, people who did not know their next door neighbors out to a community meeting on a precious Saturday morning, and people who had never owned a pair of hiking boots out to a fundraiser for a trail.

John Stillion brought us together by honoring our unique differences and then inviting us to a party to celebrate our vast array of opinions, passions, and personalities as if remarking on the colors of the rainbow with equal admiration for each of them.

John Stillion had a gift for transforming ordinary into extraordinary, the mundane into memorable. While generous with beautiful arrangements, I dare say he never arranged a simple vase of flowers, never contributed a simple centerpiece. Rather, John Stillion created an Environment. He set the mood and tone of the venue with a flash of fabrics and florals, with colors and contrasts, with textures and trims. Once the stage was set, he would retreat into the shadows and allow others to shine on the stage which his environment, perfectly designed to highlight and complement the performers.

Suffice to say he would not feel comfortable being center stage here at this event today. And yet something tells me he is deeply touched that so many of us, from different walks of life, representatives of different organizations, and even from different communities have come together here today for a single purpose.

As big as John’s vision, as tirelessly as he worked, and as dedicated as he was, John left us a few unfinished symphonies; medians not yet planted, Darryl’s garden at the summit not yet transformed, and the property on which the trail was built not yet funded. This, I believe, is John’s final gift to us. For if he had left us no unfinished business, we would have come here today, enjoyed a nice party, thanked our hosts, and gone home to Life as It Was. Instead, what John has left us are more opportunities to plant together, to work together, to BE together.

We at the Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful invite all to honor John’s memory and his final gift to us by donating of your own unique spirit, by rolling up your sleeves and planting in the medians or pulling weeds at the trail, and by financially supporting John’s final signature project, the Eagle Rock Canyon Trail.

We are pleased to announce The John Stillion Memorial Pathway, lined with bricks engraved with the names of donors, which will lead into the trail, reminding us all, as John would have wanted, that this land belongs not to any individual or organization, but to the community. For those wishing to make a greater contribution, engraved commemorative trail markers, to be placed at each quarter mile point, are available for $2500 each.  More information will be forthcoming and posted on the website.

I realize these amounts are not within reach of everyone, and John would be the first to urge me to assure you that every donation is appreciated, no matter the size; and also that every donation of time, energy, sweat, blood, tears and, yes, pennies that you have already given is honored and received with gratitude. John Stillion attracted people who are generous with their gifts, each in their own way, and we thank each of you.

I am reminded of one of John’s favorite quotes by Margaret Meade, with which I shall close: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Toughness of Dreams

My Miracle encountered a Dreamtaker yesterday, and I haven’t heard from him since. A couple of months ago, my family was eating breakfast at a local diner. I had a business presentation DVD burning a hole in my pocket. I asked God to tell me, “who needs this? Who am I here to reach out to?” We finished eating, and got up to leave. Something told me, instinctively, to give the DVD to the bus boy. “Here,“ I said. “This is for you.” We made brief eye contact, and I walked out. I didn’t hear from him right away, and that was fine. I thought that perhaps my role in that interchange was simply for someone to say to him, “I see you. You exist. I believe you can do better, you ARE better.” And I thought no more of it.

Until yesterday. I noticed there was a message on my cell phone, one from an unknown local phone number. I played the message, and the boyish voice on the recording said, “I wanted to talk to you about the job.” In that moment, that brief encounter with the diner busboy popped into my mind. I just knew the message was from him. I called the number on my phone and said, “I got your message. Please tell me where we met again??” He said, “At the diner…” I immediately started babbling, “Oh, I knew you would call! I am so GLAD to hear from you…” as if we’d been friends for years and years.

We met in person this morning, and we hit it off right away. When I talked about the opportunity to generate as much income as he wanted, not tied to an hourly wage, he hung on my every word. When I talked about money being deposited in my bank account while on a family vacation, his eyes shone. His enthusiasm for this business opportunity was palpable.

Before we parted, we made excited plans for getting his business off the ground, for working together, and for touching base again in a couple of hours.

Do you remember your last conversation with someone? I remember my last conversation with my Mom. My children and I had a breakfast party with her favorite donuts in her bedroom, and we talked about the new caregiver and made plans to go out to dinner. I remember the disturbing phone call I got from my Dad just a few hours before he passed. And I remember that conversation with my diner busboy-friend.

I did check in with him a couple of hours later, and he didn’t answer his phone. I left a voicemail message. Excited to reconnect, I also sent him a text asking when we were getting back together. He texted that he was “busy,” and that was the last I heard of him. He has never responded another call or text from me.

I am reminded of the parable of the Sower, as recounted by the late great Jim Rohn. The Sower kept on sowing, even though the birds ate some of the seed, even though some of the seeds landed in stony ground, and even though some of the seeds that did sprout were choked by weeds. The Sower just kept on sowing.

Business is like that. LIFE is like that. Sometimes I talk to people about my passion for empowering people through my business, and they tell me it won’t work, that I’m crazy to think so. Other times, I talk about creating multiple income streams to achieve financial freedom, and they tell me it’s a pyramid, that it’s illegal. And sometimes when I hand someone a DVD, they act like I’m offering them an instant case of leprosy. None are reason enough to give up on my dream of helping people create new family legacies, all the while uplifting my own.

I used to limit the form and focus of my dreams, based on the opinion of others. I believed people who said, “you can’t hope for too much.” I listened to people who said, “set your sights low and you won’t be disappointed.” I put more credence in the experiences of people who were fearful, distrusting, lonely, or broke than the small still voice telling me to aim high and dream big, to discover and fulfill my Purpose and help others do the same.

I no longer live and dream at the whim of caprice and circumstance. Perhaps that’s one of the gifts of having lived to the mid-century mark ~ and having done a lot of spiritual work along the way. My dreams are no longer violets to be crushed under an errant heel.

I know now that my small still voice is the voice of the living Intelligence that informs this entire Universe, and that my dreams are infused with the ominipotence and omniscience that God is. There’s no bird gullet, no hard soil, and no weeds that can stop the Flow of that which is Divine.

That’s the toughness of dreams. And I’m the Sower who keeps on sowing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I see You

• You see eyeliner, lip gloss, bra strap, stray hair.
~I see the luminosity of your essential Being, the glory of all Creation in your smile, the Mystery of Eternity in your eye.

• You see scars, tears, unfulfilled wishes.
~I see Divinity Personified.

• You see accusations, criticisms, disapproval.
~I see the growth rings of the trunk of the tree that lifts your True Spirit up into the sky

• You remember the judgment, abandonment, and abuse.
~I Know that you are image and likeness of Godde.

I see YOU.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Feeling Good About Feeling Bad

Sometimes I just wanna be mad. Not just mad, but outrageously frickin furious. Does being Spiritual mean I can’t be pissed off?

For some years, I have practiced, chanted, refined and honed my way into some level of even-keeled serenity. Most of the time, I feel good about life, I feel hopeful and confident, or, at the very least, I trust that I am on the path to feeling better. I didn’t start out here, and it didn’t happen overnight, for sure.

I grew up looking for reasons to be mad, furious, and righteously indignant. Looking for reasons why other insensitive people or pitiful situations were to blame my sadness, my disappointment, my anger, my RAGE. It was satisfying as far as that goes. I found no end of people and situations to blame, and I rather prided myself on my ability to logic my way into why and how each of them was to blame.

I remember an incident in high school when a friend explained to me that her psychology teacher said, "no one else can make you unhappy, only you can do that." I thought that was the most outrageously idiotic thing I’d ever heard. For days, I railed against the man and the message. I didn’t know the man, and though I was still rather shy, I confronted him in the hallways and listed all the reasons why he was clearly wrong. And I rejoiced in my “victory” of proving his position wrong for years.

I can’t pinpoint a time or place with such blinding clarity when I first realized that he was right. Perhaps that’s true because it happened gradually, though I suspect it is more due to the lack of thrill associated with discovering that I was the one who was “wrong.” In any case, I agree with him wholeheartedly now; in fact, I build my life, my vision for my life and my world, on the foundation of that Truth. No one else can make me unhappy; I am uniquely skilled in handling that task myself.

Thousands of hours of workshops, retreats, books, prayer, Abraham CDs, and meditations later, I am the usually calm and serene virtual person you see before you, trusting God and the Universe to provide, knowing that everything happens for a reason, and that my positive intentions create what I want to see in my life.

Then a truly stupid thing happens. The internet service at my home goes out, and no one at the provider company knows why. Or they pretend they know why and they really don’t. Or the claim it’s somebody else’s fault. Or they say it has already been fixed and it hasn’t. It is so freakin tempting to rise to the occasion! My rant and rave instinct is alive and well and wanting to be heard.

My experience and belief is that pushing back against something only brings more of that to my experience. Yet I also know and believe that the “contrasts” of this life, the difference between what we experience and what we’d like to be experiencing, are what causes us humans to launch “rockets of desire” (in Abraham parlance), which fuel the creation of what we do want.

So what’s the answer? Do I get to revel in feeling irate, even if only for the experience of contrast? I suppose that’s the answer. It’s fine, even vitally important, to feel unhappy, disappointed, even irate when something happens I don’t like. The trick is not to stay there, but to use that negative feeling to fuel my vision of what I do want, and inspire my action steps to bring about change.

I don’t like being without internet service. I envision being connected wherever I go. And that is a very good feeling.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Blessing for the Caregivers

I know that there is a Living Intelligence, an Infinite Mind, orchestrating the grand overture that this Universe is. Every leaf carries its signature, every petal sings its praise, and every cobweb maps its intricate design. I know that God is in the Garden.

I bless those who take up the mantle of creation, feeding the divinity in every leaf and every stem, living and breathing in harmony with, indeed as One with, the divine hand that shapes the world of nature, the living expression of God.

I bless those that open the eyes of those who were sleeping, those who thought they didn’t care, and those that thought, really, that there wasn’t much of a world out there at all, to the beauty and intricacy of Life.

I bless those that help us all to see the beauty of a tree, the resilience of a weed, the fragility of a moment in time. For this moment in time is all we ever have, all we can ever know. I bless those who bring this moment into sharper focus, clearer perspective, with utter urgency.

I bless those that honor the sacred rhythms and systems of the Earth and all her inhabitants. I bless all the caregivers of this bountiful Earth. I bless and honor you as a prince among them.

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Loss: A Q & A with me and Me

Me: There is no loss, only release and transformation.
me: My library book sure seems lost. I can’t find it anywhere.
Me: The library book is somewhere, though, isn’t it?
me: Yes, it is somewhere, but I don’t know where that somewhere is.
Me: As long as it is somewhere, it is not “lost” as in “gone forever.” It is just not where you know to find it.
me: Sure, but that’s not going to get me out of paying a library fine if I don’t return it soon.
Me: Do you know where you children are right now?
me: Yes, they are at school.
Me: Do you know exactly where they are at school?
me: Well, no, they could be in their classrooms, in the school library, out on the playground…
Me: So are they “lost” because you don’t know exactly where they are?
me: No, they aren't lost because I know I could find them if I looked. I’ve looked for the library book, though, and I can’t find it. So, for my purposes (not to mention the library’s), it is LOST.
Me: What if you went out to the car, looked under the seats one more time, and voila, there it is. Would it still be “lost”?
me: No, of course not, because then I would know where it is.
Me: So “lost” is not a permanent condition?
me: Not always. For example, if that book was mistakenly put in the trash, hauled away by the trash truck, and buried in a landfill, I would never find it again, and it would be lost to me forever.
Me: And if, while in the landfill, that book turns into compost over time, would it not have been transformed? Perhaps even into a new book, if someday a tree grows in that former landfill site, ad that tree is cut down to make paper for another book some few hundred years in the future?
me: Well, sure, but it’s still lost to me.
Me: So “lost” is only relative to you?
me: Not necessarily. The book would be lost forever for all the patrons of the LA Public Library system. Even if it turns to compost which feeds a tree which becomes paper for a book, the odds of it being the same text (which, ironically, is called Composting) are pretty slim.
Me: what if somebody else found the book and returned it for you?
me: So then it would only be “lost” in my mind, assuming I didn’t know that it had been returned.
Me: So “lost” is a condition pertaining only to whomever might be looking for something for the time that they are looking for it?
me: That sounds right.
Me: What happens between the time of looking and finding?
me: Funny you should ask. If I don’t find it right away, I usually give up looking and forget about it. Very often, that’s when the “lost” thing turns up!
Me: So when you stop holding that vibration of “it’s lost,” then it can become “found”?
me: well, yes...I see your point, but that only works for things that can be found. My mother, however, since she passed away two years ago, is “lost” to me forever. No amount of looking, forgetting, releasing, or holding a different vibration is going to return her physical form to me.
Me: So she is “lost.”
me: To me, she is. And to my children, my sister, and her friends…
Me: Was she just a physical body to you, then?
me: Of course not. I loved her indomitable spirit, her passion for life….
Me: Does Spirit die?
me: no, never.
Me: Has she then been transformed?
me: Sigh. Yes. I can see I’m not getting out of this with you, am I? Okay, help me with this then. How do I convince the library not to charge me for the Composting book because it has been 'released and transformed'?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Does God Wear a Watch?

I've been feeling a distinct tension between "going with the flow" and Discipline for awhile now.  On the one hand, I intend to be in the moment, here and now, listening and acting on the divine inspiration that comes to me in each moment.  "The Universe likes speed," as Joe Vitale says, and there's no time like the Present.  And yet I'm equally certain that the the achievement of goals requires a certain discipline, a dedicated practice of making action plans, scheduling appointments, and checking off To-Do lists.  This all feels antithetical to Going with the Flow.  How do I honor both?

Today, for example, I’m all about Inspiration and Vision, and I just spent 45 minutes organizing and tuning into my personal mission and passions.  That’s supposed to be Sunday’s task.  And yet I’m feeling it today.  So I honored my feelings…and now I'm behind schedule, looking at a stack of unpaid bills, and more confused than ever. 

I got to thinking about how nice it must be for God, not having to worry about what time school starts or the workday ends, when the mortgage due or the paycheck comes.  Happy-go-lucky God. Then I laughed out loud.  God is all about timing, perfect timing.  The sun comes up at a precise time every day, the moon orbits the Earth every 27.321 days, and the Earth takes a spin around the Sun every 365.256363 days, right on schedule. 

Then again, that's the impeccable timing of nature.  That's God doing what God does on God's own schedule.  But the schedules and calendars of humans don't always coincide with God's.  In fact, it it sometimes seems that our clock and calendar have been totally dissociated from nature.  Just how natural is it that we insist that work and school start at the same time of day, regardless of the season or the cycle of the moon?  God doesn't have to wait until the calendar says "First Day of Spring" to burst open an early iris.  For that matter, how could I possibly explain Daylight Savings time to God?

All of which brings me back to wondering how to marry divine inspirations with the manmade clock.  I feel certain that it’s about trust, ruthless trust. If I really know and trust that God is the Source of ALL, then surely God knows what we humans are up to, even with our artificial constructs of time.  When I trust God implicitly to guide me, I won't need a calendar or a watch because I will naturally tune into each moment and know perfectly what to do (or not to do). But I'm not quite there. It's like my Rev says, "If you haven't yet learned to walk on water, take a boat." So, for now, I am devoted to my dayplanner, my Outlook calendar and the clock on the wall. All the while, I'm dipping my toe into the water, fine tuning my listening, and building my trust muscle.  Right now, I'm trusting that these will get paid tomorrow, and that will be in perfect timing, by God's watch and the human calendar alike. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Easier Said than Learned

Of all my natural-born gifts and tendencies, a love of discipline is not one of them. I love to dream, envision, plan, coordinate, organize, arrange, involve, get supplied and informed….and then I set about putting it all into action. For a day or two. Maybe even three or five. Beyond that, takes a constitution that isn’t part of my human nature. For all my love of setting up new routines, new schedules and new plans for development, my follow-through, bluntly-speaking, sucks.

Discipline is as foreign to me as organization is to my “absent-minded-professor” son. He is constantly being called on the carpet by his elementary school teachers for losing, forgetting, and misplacing homework assignments. I tell him that we are all here to learn some things, and that organization is on his Big Clipboard of Assignments ~ and, for that, he should consider himself lucky. Surely tackling the discipline of putting things in proper places, writing down complete instructions for assignments, and remembering to take completed work, surely all of that is all easier than it is for the kids who struggle with the actual learning. I remind him that there are kids who sit through class after class, not having a glimmer of an idea of what the teacher is talking about. I tell him he’s lucky that he learns easily, and that, using his gifts, learning organization can be easy for him.

But am I being fair? I am blessed to be a quick learner, too, and yet all my gifts have not made it any easier for me to “learn discipline.” This realization lands on me with an existential thud. If he struggles with organization the way I’ve struggled with discipline, then he may yet have a long row yet to hoe. Rather than encouraging him with my “surely it’s easier” dissertation, have I been making him feel worse about not yet achieving that which may take him fifty years to learn?

Thinking over the goals I’ve achieved and what disciplines that I have successfully instilled, I realize that I’m most likely to stay with something with I have a workout buddy, a study group or at least someone to whom I report. I wanted to blog weekly since this blog started back in (sheesh, was it really?) 2008. I’ve honored that intention since committing to a blogging workout partner in January of this year. Now that that the habit is established, it’s easy to do. I feel something is missing when I don’t post something here before Saturday (as in this week!).

I have intended a daily practice of meditation since my parents first took me to a Transcendental Meditation guru in the early 70s ~ perhaps thirty years ago. And yet I only became committed to my daily meditation practice after I began the Modern Day Priestess training in 2009, when it was assigned as ‘homework’ and I was training with a group of initiates.

So it occurs to me now that I could ask Cameron’s teacher if there is another student in his class who forgets, misplaces, and loses his or her homework? Perhaps they can work together, challenge each other, to see who can get completed homework assignments to school on time. Maybe we could even start a support group on campus for the Chronically Disorganizeds. Okay, strike the latter, but I have come to this realization: We are here to learn things, and we learn better when we learn together. Sounds simple enough, and yet it took ME fifty years to figure that out. Perhaps I can save Cameron a few decades. If only he will listen….

Friday, February 25, 2011

Twenty Questions

Is my life for me or thee? Is my vision of I for me or we?
We have been through so much, you and I, that sometimes I wonder ~ who knows me better, you or me? Do you see Me, the essence of all that I am, and I see me, through all the filters of my doubts and fears?

When you question who I am being, how I am expressing my Me, I wonder whose vision of me you see? Is your vision of me closer to the Truth of Me, than mine is of me?

When you tell me to aim higher, is it because you see where I am to be? Or is your vision more for we than me?

When you see me doing something differently than I see, does it even mean that we disagree? Could it be that we are touching different parts of the elephant, I am on the trunk and you on the knee? Is it really ALL me?

After a lifetime of needing and craving approval, am I looking to you to tell me who I am, so you will love me? But if I am trying to be someone you will want to love, then will you love Me? Or can you even love the me I am pretending to be?

Can I ever be who you want me to be? Or just a clever portrayal of your vision of me?

And if you say that I’m not being all that I can be, is it because you sense I’m pretending, vainly endeavoring to fulfill your vision of me? That your sense of me not living up to being Me is because I’m seeing me through we? Or thee?

Am I for me or thee or we?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Utter Satisfaction of Purpose

Like a lot of my mid-century friends, I have become obsessed with Purpose. I feel an ever growing urge to know why am I here? What am I here to achieve or accomplish? I suppose it arises out of that fear of not getting it all done, like not checking everything off my list by the end of the day. I know THAT never happens, so what if I get to the end of this life and I have not checked off “Achieve my Purpose for Being Here”?  It's becoming a more pressing question as my fiftieth birthday approaches. 

In talking with a friend recently about Purpose, she said, “what if it isn’t something to be done? What if it is something like ‘Love Unconditionally’?” Her answer hit me like a cold glass of water in the face, and I thought, “how unsatisfying!” I realize I have been thinking of Purpose as something to DO, as if, one day, the voice from the burning bush would call out to me and say, “Hey, Cheryl, go build an orphanage for hurricane refugees!” Ever so grateful for this revelation of my Purpose, I would rush off to make plans, line up donors, and enroll students. Once the doors opened, I would breathe a sigh of relief and cross Purpose off my list. And maybe get a gold star and a few pats on the back for a job well done. Now that’s satisfying.

Then again, how could Purpose be something so short-lived? What would be the sense of having this life-long craving to know “for what purpose am I here?” if it could be summed up in a ten-page business plan? For that matter, what would even be the point of LIVING after that orphanage was built, once the Purpose was achieved? Would I just ascend into the Ever-After at that moment, to bask in the glow of Purpose Achieved?

So I am grudgingly considering what is perhaps the obvious, though mentally unsatisfying, Truth: Purpose is a way of Be-ing, not something to be done. A knowing of Oneness, of the I AM presence, of unconditional Love. No big finish, no grand finale, no gold stars. Just the deep and utter satisfaction of having lived each moment in peace and harmoney, which is, come to think of it, utterly satisfying.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Channelling the Peace Pilgrim

True (as in I-could-not-make-this-up-if-I-tried) story: A couple of mornings ago, I walked out of Swork Coffee, as I have done thousands of times, carrying two cups of coffee thinking about the day ahead. Swork is on the corner of the major intersection in our town, and, just as I was exiting, a small white pickup truck careened around the corner. I noticed it distinctly because the driver leaned over, looked straight at me, shouting (what I couldn’t hear because the windows were up), and gesticulating a certain finger in my direction.

Now I have come to anticipate this kind of reaction when I am driving. I may zone out and drift over a lane, and, most unfortunately, cut off just the sort of somebody that experiences such an animated reaction when suddenly deprived of a certain length of lane. It happens.

However, I have yet to provoke this kind of response in a driver by simply walking There’s just not as many opportunities to get in the way of other drivers, so long as I manage to ambulate within the bounds of the sidewalk, as I was clearly doing. So I assumed the driver, let’s call him Joe, was just mad at the world, yelling at everybody he encountered. Imagine my surprise, then, when I turned the corner and discovered that Joe had screeched to a halt and was exiting his vehicle. He was still shouting and began charging towards me. No longer screened by the enclosure of his vehicle, I hear quite clearly what Joe is yelling ~ To Me. Not at the world, not at people, in general, but TO ME: “You are so UGLY! You are so OLD!” Over and over with surprisingly few variations on the theme. Joe had conviction and focus, I’ll give him that.

Well, my first split second reaction, was to express a disinterest in Joe’s opinion of me, perhaps contributing a few gestures of my own….and then a memory flashed through my mind, and I just stopped. I completely froze, in fact. I didn’t continue walking (or turn and run, as it occurs to me now that I might have). I didn’t speak, or even think another thought. I simply tuned into Peace. Though I didn’t hear his words anymore, I observed his behavior without judgment. He froze in his place, spewed out whatever he had left, then got in his truck and sped off.

Somehow, I unlocked my knees, got in my car, shaking and sobbing. I honestly didn’t feel hurt or angry or even relieved that I wasn’t physically harmed, but I couldn’t stop crying either. I did wonder what the heck I am putting out there to attract this particular message, but mostly I was just overcome with emotion. I managed to drive home.

What was the memory that brought me into PEACE? It was a story I’d heard about the Peace Pilgrim, a woman who, beginning on January 1, 1953, in Pasadena, California, walked across the United States in the name of Peace and non-violence for 28 years. She had no organizational backing, carried no money, and would not even ask for food or shelter. For the Peace Pilgrim, non-violence extended to all thoughts and words, not just physical behavior. She once said, “I not only do not say angry words, I do not even think angry thoughts! If someone does an unkind thing to me, I feel only compassion instead of resentment.”

I’d heard a long time ago that she was once attacked by a man carrying a knife. She made no move to defend herself, nor did she plea for her life. She simply held him in compassion and love. He left her alone.

I had always wondered if I would have the courage to do something like that. Truthfully, I don’t know if I would have had the same composure if Joe had been carrying a knife or if I hadn’t been in such a public place in broad daylight. I do feel certain that it worked. That maybe it even prevented a more violent attack for someone else down the road because Joe had vented. And because Joe had been held, in acceptance.

I do know that I am profoundly grateful to the Peace Pilgrim for inspiring me in that moment. And I’m going to be watching my thoughts and words a lot more closely, not just the words that come out of my mouth, either.  Blessed are the peacemakers.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Teaching What I Don't Know

I once took a workshop in how to make presentations and to lead trainings. I was a bit surprised to see that the first subject on the agenda was “what should I teach?” I thought everyone had that one wrapped up, with the notable exception of Moi, who had no clue, apart from an intuitive hit that I was to be doing it. I thought that surely everyone would KNOW and that they teach what they knew best. So imagine my surprise when the answer evolved to be, “teach what you want to LEARN.”

It seemed crazy at first. How could I make a plan for teaching something I don’t yet KNOW? Thinking further, I remembered just how many teachers and profs who were at the top of their field, the most knowledgeable person on the planet on the subject they taught, and yet managed to impart the information with as much enthusiasm as one might endanger in a rousing discussion of wallpaper paste.

There are notable exceptions, thankfully! More commonly, however, it’s the newer, younger teachers who are full of enthusiasm and passion for their subjects. They are the ones who inspire me to learn for the sheer joy of learning, rather than just planning to cram the night before the final in hopes of getting a decent grade. I mean, it makes sense, really. I am a lot more passionate about sharing what I figured out yesterday than what I figured out ten years ago. The thrill of the newness carries a more potent energy, demanding to be shared NOW.  Look at how many people tune in to watch a car chase that's happening NOW?  Who would watch the block-by-block video of a car chase that happened last week?

Imagine how fresh a teacher would be if they taught today what they learned yesterday?  Or even what learning is happening within them as the deliver the lecture?

This idea of teaching what I want to learn excites me for two reasons.  First, there are no ends of things about which I don't yet know anything. Second, there are no ends of things about which I want to learn. Therefore, the universe of things about I may teach about is infinite. So, who wants to sign up for my first class in learning about That Which I Don’t Yet Know?  Suffice to say that there will not be a syllabus...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Honoring our Divine Daughters

My daughter is nine, almost ten, and I've been giving thought to what I want to tell her about puberty. I was given a Coming of Age kit that has wonderful book and video about the physical changes of puberty, as well as a bit of history about how the time of menarche was celebrated in ancient societies. I love that the book talks about honoring the female body and how the cycles fit in with the rhythm of nature and the moon. In thinking about how to convey this to my Chloë, who is not yet showing signs of puberty, I realize, however, that I want to start with the step before this one. I want to share with her ~ and her friends ~ what it means to honor and respect women and girls at all. I want to talk first with them about the time when women’s gifts were honored and revered, and how that compares to what we revere today.

I think it’s seductive for us women of 2011, those of us who lived through days when girls and boys were raised very differently, those of us who had mothers who didn’t work because “that’s not what women do,” to relax in the notion that that “it’s all better now” for our daughters. It’s true that there are women CEOs, women sportscasters, women senators, women television producers, and even women astronauts. They certainly didn’t exist when I was a kid. They are still the exceptions, however, the outliers. Certainly women aren’t represented in those occupations in equal numbers with men. Certainly, there has been no female US president.

My husband and son are glued to the TV watching football, baseball, basketball…when are we glued to the TV watching women play sports? We catch glimpses of them every couple of years during the Olympics. My daughter wants to know why there aren’t women baseball teams. And why does she have to sing “With God as our Father, brothers all are we?” in the school holiday program?

Even beyond the equality in the numbers, however, I don’t see that we have arrived at a time of truly honoring feminine attributes and skills. Women may now be successful in left-brained, logic-based occupations, it’s true. But where are the women (or men, for that matter) being honored for their nurturing, their intuition, their healing, their creative, or cooperative gifts? Short of Mother Theresa, and other saints we put on pedestals (and kept in poverty), we don’t honor the Midwife of the Year or the Mystic of the Month.

My daughter hears things like “cry like a little girl,” and “you run like a girl.” Who says to little boys, “you have the intuition of a boy?” And what boy would feel insulted if anyone did?

So before I turn to teaching my daughter about honoring her body at menarche, I intend first to teach her to honor her girl-ness, to know that there are ancient traditions of Wise Women, Mystics and Healers, and that the Divine Feminine is worthy of our reverence just as is God the Father.

My thoughts then turn to wondering where to find resources for this teaching, where do I find texts written in language that is not only accessible to a nine-year-old girl, but one that is engaging for her, as well. I am leaning into Trust here, knowing that if I've been inspired to ask, then " will be given and you will find." So my question is this:  what have you taught your young daughters, nieces, and cousins ~ and sons and nephews! ~ about honoring women, the divine feminine, our mother, aunts, sisters, and daughters? What ceremonies, what books, do you recommend? What is your wisdom to share?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Riding the Waves

Chloë calls me to the window in the cruise ship cabin to see the waves. She shrieks, "Come look!" The waves are breaking at a sharp acute angle to the side of the ship. Illuminated by the ship's beacons, the frosty white foam contrasts sharply with the vast inky blackness of the ocean beyond.

The cabin itself feels stilll. Before I looked out the window, I could have easily forgotten that we were anywhere but on dry land. Now that I see the big waves crashing so sharply, my heart skips a beat. The waves seem so much bigger than they had earlier in the day when we were up on deck. Yet there has been no detectable change in the amount of movement by the ship. No pitching or rolling. Perhaps it is our proximity down on the lower deck, aided by the contrast of light and dark, that makes them seem so much bigger now.

Looking out the window, my instinct is to panic. I feel an adrenaline rush just as if a sudden danger had been identified, and these huge waves register as Danger in my less-than-seaworthy mind. I can hardly tear myself away from the window, the thrill of the danger is so captivating.

I know it's getting late so I look at the clock in the room. In that instant, I become aware once again of just how still, safe, and calm the cabin feels. I calm down. For a moment. I can't resist the urge to look out at the so-called danger. But as soon as I look out, there it is again. I see the big crashing waves, and I instantly feel that fear and dread again.
There's a lesson for me here. When I focus my attention on something I truly dread (e.g., paying bills), I go into that same place of fear and dread, before I even know if there is any reason to be concerned. Then I pick up a book or play with the kids, and it's gone. When I see signs of what appears to be a dangerous condition, as those big waves could have been for a smaller craft, my habit is to panic without first assessing whether I personally face any real danger at all. Here, I am not. How many other times have I panicked or just frozen up when I faced no real threat or harm at all? I suppose it's human to feel this way. The old fight-or-flight adrenaline rush is programmed into our DNA. So rarely do we have the chance to "fight" what we fear these days (lack of money or being alone, for example), and our options for real flight are limited. I've tried running in all different directions, but the issue is still there when I get back.

Instead of running away, in a physical sense, the opportunity is to turn my attention away from that which is not pleasing to me, according to my good friend Abraham. This is not always easy, just as I found it difficult to look away from the thrill of the big crashing waves. I was taught, as I suppose most of us were, that problems deserve our attention. That the only way to find solutions is to wrangle with problems, give them our undivided attention, and think, worry, and fret until the answer comes.

It's not easy for me now to simply focus on what I do want (a calm, safe cabin) when my mind keeps going back to what dangers are Out There. The lesson of the cabin is to do just the opposite. I direct my attention today to peace, prosperity, love, and health because those are all things that I want. Sounds so easy, doesn't it? I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life Bass Ackwards

I can see now how I've been going about life completely backwards. what made the most sense to me was to consider first and foremost, "how much money does it make" when deciding how to occupy my time ~ my occupation.  I devoted most of my time to going to work, getting ready for work, getting to work, getting home from work, getting ready for the next work day, and worrying about when I would get all of this work done!  Whatever time and energy might be remaining, if any, for those things that spoke to my Soul, nurtured my Spirit.  By all appearances, it was a successful way to go about it.  I graduated from a good law school, and I enjoyed great pay, benefits and opportunities to travel in my corporate job. 
And yet so many days were spent counting the hours until I could do something FUN, be with my husband and children, do something with meaning. 

So when my corporate job went away, I dedicated myself taking a different tack.  It's been an up and down process, a trial and error path, for sure.  I've invested my heart and soul in a brick-and-mortar retail store, a few different network marketing companies, and some consulting work in the renewable energy business.  I loved something about each of them.

What I love most is that now I'm putting Spirit first.  I listen to my heart when deciding how to devote my time, my energies, and my heart.  In doing so, I'm infusing my entire day and being with Spirit.  I truly believe that Spirit calls us into this world to serve Purpose, and my days are joyful when I feel that connection to Purpose.  The more joyful I feel about what I'm doing, the more I love doing it, and the better I do it.  And the better I do whatever it is I'm doing, the more I am rewarded.  For the first time in my life, I feel success and financial rewards drawing to me naturally, without struggle, and without my putting any conscious attention on how much money I make at all.  I am so grateful to hand over those reins to Spirit. Blessed be.