Notes on the Journey

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shining Eyes

I watched a TED talk today of Benjamin Zander (a symphony conductor) talking on music and passion.  Every TED talk I've listened to has been wonderful, but this particular one was exceptional.  Benjamin Zander is funny and engaging as a speaker and a very talented musician who illustrated some of the points he was making by playing the piano.  At one point, he stated that he had full faith that when he was finished, everyone in the room or listening would understand, appreciate and enjoy classical music.  And, of that, he had no doubt.  He said, "One of the characteristics of a leader is that he does not doubt for a moment the capacity of the people he's leading to realize whatever he's dreaming."

And, he's right.  For a leader who has no doubt and is clear in their intention, we will follow willingly.  But, if the leader is unclear, or doubts their purpose, there is fear and discontent in the ranks.  If the leader doesn't respect those he/she is leading then he/she loses their loyalty.  But, if those being led have the respect of their leader and feel the leader's faith in them, they will do whatever they can and more to accomplish the task.  The overriding thought will be, "We can do this together."

Zander had an epiphany after conducting orchestras for twenty years, and the epiphany was that the conductor made no sound.  He realized that his success was dependent on those he was conducting.  He finally understood in a deep and transformative way that "his power depended on his ability to make other people powerful.  And, that his job was to awaken possibility in other people."  Those are profound realizations and, for him, changed the way he did his job.  Changed it to the extent that his players asked him what had happened.  The epiphany had shifted his perception and focus from himself to those he was working to empower.  And, his job became about helping every player in his orchestra to be the best they could be.

With this change in focus, he moved into his heart.  He fell in love with his players.  He got to know them, to really know them, and each and every one of them mattered.  The way he said he could tell if he was succeeding in inspiring and empowering those around him was seeing their shining eyes.  If their eyes weren't shining, he wasn't doing his job.  And, then he would ask himself, "Who am I being that my players' eyes are not shining?"  He took responsibility.  If their eyes weren't shining, it was a reflection of him and his actions.  He saw the whole experience in Oneness.

He took this idea to, "Who are we being in the world?"  What kind of vision are we holding for our world?  And, what are we doing to achieve it?  He talked about holding a long-term vision, and explained how the musician doesn't just play note after note, but that great musicians see the long line of the piece and hold the whole thing and then play it through.  He gave the examples of a bird flying over a fence--or, a mountain for that matter--and not looking down but looking forward with the long view of where it was going and what was necessary to get there.  He asked the audience, "What was Nelson Mandela doing in jail for 27 years?"  And, the answer was, holding a vision for South Africa.  Holding the long view and having faith that it was possible.  It wasn't 27 years wasted in jail, it was 27 years spent visioning how the country could be and willing it into being.

Nelson Mandela said, "There is no passion to be found playing small; in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."  Benjamin Zander doesn't play small, he plays big.  He has a passion for life and for music and for teaching and for inspiring and for empowering, and he allows his passion full rein without holding back.  And, when he was done talking, his audience was full of people with shining eyes. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Conflict Resolution

I found a new website today as recommended in Kelly Hunter's astrology newsletter.  She mentioned it by saying that Julie Roberts' book, "Building Better Relationships:  Short Essays on Learning to Relate," discusses the principles of The CLEAR Process of conflict resolution.  The website, so you can check it out for yourself, is:  www.truceworks.com.  They also have a way to work through conflict in a guided way online.  And, they have a mobile app.

Anything that facilitates conflict resolution and non-violent communication is something that benefits us all.  How many times have we been in situations of conflict and been at a loss as to how to find a resolution?  I've lost relationships in this way; there was a conflict and I just didn't have the tools with which to resolve it.  I've always been conflict averse anyway, but at least having tools to utilize when conflict happens makes the possibility of resolution real.  I think conflict stumps a lot of us.  We react without thinking and then can't figure out how to get out of our reaction...or, to take responsibility for it.

The CLEAR Process consists of five steps:
1)  Clarify
2)  Locate
3)  Express
4)  Attune
5)  Reciprocation

The first step - CLARIFY - is to state the event/action that triggered the conflict without blame...just the facts of what happened.

The second step - LOCATE - is to locate what you're feeling and ask yourself, "What unmet need caused the feeling?"

The third step - EXPRESS - is to express what you felt/are feeling...express yourself.

The fourth step - ATTUNE - is to attune to the other person in the conflict.  Respond back to validate that you really heard them and that you understand the way they felt/feel.

The fifth step - RECIPROCATION - is to discuss/negotiate what is needed to end the conflict.

It takes two to walk through this process together, so one of the people in the conflict has to step forward and initiate the process of resolution.  And, the other person has to agree to want resolution and to walk through this process together.  Once you both agree that you want resolution, and are willing to walk through the process, then each person has to commit to honesty without blame.  By each person taking responsibility for their reactions, and the emotions behind them, without blaming the other person, the door to resolution is open.

It's a process of respect and responsibility.  We respect the other person; their ability to hear us, their ability to respond from a place of responsibility; their ability to be honest; their ability to receive us in our vulnerability; their ability to understand and have compassion; and, their ability to compromise.  This process, done through to resolution, is strengthening to the relationship.  At the end of the process, each person has shown that the relationship means enough to them to want to find resolution.  At the end of the process, each person knows themselves and each other better.  At the end of the process, each person trusts and respects the other more deeply.  At the end of the process, each person feels seen and heard and personally empowered.

We all experience conflict.  You'd have to live in a reclusive bubble and have no human contact to avoid conflict...and, you'd probably still be in conflict with yourself!  Learning to face conflict and deal with it in a way that allows the affected relationship/s to grow and continue is a wonderful thing.  If we all knew how to settle things peacefully between us--countries as well as people--violence would no longer have a place.  And, if we felt we had the tools to achieve resolution to conflict when it arose, fear would go away.  And, as we learn more about ourselves and others through peaceful communication and conflict resolution, we move more deeply into acceptance and love.  And, that's the kind of world in which I want to live.

So, next time something happens, try these steps.  See how they work for you.  Try for resolution instead of walking away or attacking.  Go for peace.  Person to person.  Conflict by conflict.  Baby step by baby step.  Be brave.  You can do it. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Nature of Suffering

The following is a quote from the Dalai Lama:  "The suffering and happiness each of us experiences is a reflection of the distortion or clarity with which we view ourselves and the world."

That's genius.  It's so simple, and it encapsulates volumes of spiritual study.

When we're really able to see ourselves and the world with clarity--no illusions, no denial, no expectations, no desires, no needs--and accept it and deal with it for what it is without resistance then there's nothing to trigger suffering.  We might not like what we see, but it's not about what we like.  It's about accepting the truth and doing what's necessary in regard to it.  Suffering is born out of resistance.  We might prefer another scenario, but it's not about what we prefer.  It's always about what is.

I read another article recently in which the author, Rev. Kylie Renner of the Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living, said that she no longer resists her resistance, which is perfect.  Full acceptance of what is, but watching it and learning from it.  The allowance of what is occurring to be there from the stance of the watcher.  We can't make ourselves feel differently than we feel, but we can open to it, give it space, and let it teach us about itself as it moves through.

I saw the quote from the Dalai Lama on the cover of a Buddhist magazine I picked up to read while I was waiting for my appointment with my newly-found medical pedicurist.  I stubbed my toe very badly last year on an unmarked and unpainted curb in the parking structure of my hotel in Cleveland while working on "The Avengers."  And, ever since then, my toe has continued to give me problems.  I've stayed away from shoes and worn flip flops almost exclusively since then.  But, winter is coming and shoes will be unavoidable, and I'm taking dance classes where there is more than normal pressure on my toes and shoes are necessary, so I've been forced out of denial and into solution.  After mentioning my toe pain to a friend after dance class she immediately gave me the phone number of the perfect person to help me heal the condition...the medical pedicurist, the fabulous Maria Rathner here in Albuquerque.  And, it was in Maria's waiting area that I saw the Buddhist magazine with the quote from the Dalai Lama on the cover.

So, I am now grateful for the stubbed toe, grateful for the pain that made me mention my toe to my friend, grateful for my friend's recommendation to Maria, and grateful that I finally came out of denial and took action to heal my toe and made an appointment with Maria.  Due to all of these things, I found the Dalai Lama quote.  Such gold is a special find.  The truth is usually simple.  If something starts to get too complicated, it's most likely indicative that distortion has crept into the mix.  And, the Dalai Lama's quote is simple and beautifully said.  When I read it, I gasped in recognition.  Yes!

I started to read a bit of the article that went with the quote--and, I'm sorry to not have written down the name of the magazine and the name of the author of the article!--but, since Maria was quick getting to me, I only managed a snippet.  But, in that snippet, the author talked about the fact that in Buddhism, the practitioner seeks enlightenment not only for themselves but for the whole of creation.  It's such an acknowledgement of Oneness and the fact that we're all connected.  We don't do anything in a bubble of separation, everything we do affects the whole.  In fact, the word "Bodhisattva" is used in regard to someone who delays their own enlightenment out of compassion for those still struggling.  Buddhism is about the team, the sanga.  But, if I'm not mistaken, a Bodhisattva is also someone who's attained enlightenment, but has chosen to come back to help others reach it, too.  Either way, a noble act and a deep understanding that we are all One.

So, the next time you find yourself suffering in some way, it might be helpful to notice where the resistance is and then open up to it.  Once we open to the resistance and let it tell us what it's about, we're much more likely to be able to let it move through and come into truth and acceptance.  And, once we come into truth and acceptance, the suffering will stop.  Clarity is a wonderful thing.  When we reach it, it's the most blissful release.

And, since I love the quote from the Dalai Lama that I started this post with so much, I'm going to end with it, too.  "The suffering and happiness each of us experiences is a reflection of the distortion or clarity with which we view ourselves and the world."  Brilliant.



  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Expendables 2"

I saw the movie, "Expendables 2" this afternoon and really enjoyed it.  I have to note that my response to this film and all the violence that it entails, is 180 degrees from my response to "Dark Knight" and its violence.

The overall vibe of "Dark Knight" was too bleak and depressing for me.  It felt oppressive and relentless.  It went on for too long and I felt icky watching it.  It was out of balance, and, for me, by the end, nothing could bring it back.  All I felt at the end was relief that it was over.  And, relief that Christopher Nolan would be making no more installments in the franchise.  Maybe the next director will lift it up a bit.

But, "Expendables 2" is a much more balanced piece of work.  You like the main characters who all seem to accept themselves and the life they've chosen.  They're good guys saving the little guys and taking down the bad guys.  There's humor to balance out the tougher stuff and all the killing.  And, the killing is at such a proportion that it becomes comical at times.  The filmmakers never seem to lose their way, or stay too long at the party.

I love Sylvester Stallone.  I've always liked him in the roles he plays and I have great respect for his writing, directing and producing talents.  He didn't direct "Expendables 2," Simon West did.  But, it was Stallone's story and he was one of the writers.  He did direct the first "The Expendables," but the choice of Simon West to direct this film was a good one.

Violence is never an answer to anything.  But, we still have violence in our world, and violence still seems to be part of our response to certain things.  I found it intriguing though that the violence of one film bothered me so much more than the violence of the other film.  I think part of what makes the violence in "Expendables 2" so much easier to take is the self-deprecating manner of its characters.  They don't take themselves too seriously.  And yet, there are some scenes of pure evil behavior.  There's also plenty of drama to balance the humor and the action.  And, as over-the-top as the action gets sometimes, the general balance of the film makes it okay.

Thank goodness "Dark Knight" had Anne Hathaway.  The only humor I can remember from that movie came from her character.  And, there was very little of it.  There's a woman in "Expendables 2" as well.  And, she's just as bad ass as the guys, but remains feminine throughout.  She also has a sense of humor.

I do think we need to exercise our discretion when choosing to see films that include violence.  Sometimes it's too much for our sensibilities, and other times it's okay.  I know now, after seeing all of his work so far, that Christopher Nolan's vision is generally darker than I like.  And, I'll be careful before going to see another film he does that includes violence.  I liked "Inception" far more than I did "Dark Knight."  And, I also liked "Memento."  I just need to exercise discretion when it comes to his work.  But, I wouldn't have any reservations about seeing anything that Sylvester Stallone is involved with.  He knows what makes a compelling story.  He knows how to make us root for someone.  He understands balance.  He doesn't overdo things more than the story needs.  He understands pathos as well as violence and when to use them.  And, he has a great sense of humor.

It will be wonderful when we grow beyond the need for violence.  But, while it's still here, we need to be careful how and how much we let into our experience.  It's not easy to process out of our consciousness images and experiences of violence.  So, we need to be careful what we let in.  But, if you feel like a little excitement and action, I think "Expendables 2" would be a good choice. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

12/12/12 and 12/21/12

December 12, 2012--12/12/12--or, December 21, 2012--12/21/12.  Is either of these dates special to you?  Are you planning to be somewhere special or do something special on either of these dates?

I haven't really thought about going anywhere for these dates, but a friend of mine keeps asking about it.  The places mentioned have been Chichen Itza in Mexico, Machu Picchu in Peru, the pyramids in Egypt, and Glastonbury in England.  I figure that on those dates there will be people and ceremonies and rituals performed at every sacred site on the planet.  It would just be deciding which one to go to.

I normally don't travel anywhere unless I feel called to go there, and so far, I haven't felt called to travel anywhere.  That isn't to say I won't be, just that it hasn't happened yet.  And, if I end up passing either of these dates at home in Albuquerque that will be fine, too.

There are actually plenty of sacred sites in New Mexico.  I just went to one a couple of days ago.  El Sanctuario de Chimayo, which is located in the tiny town of Chimayo about a half hour outside of Santa Fe.  I've been there many times now.  It's a small Catholic church that has some very powerful energy.  As you pass out of the church past the altar in front and exit through a low door to the left, you enter a room that holds more altars as well as crutches, baby shoes, eyeglasses, casts, and photographs of people asking for prayer and healing.  The crutches, baby shoes, eyeglasses, casts and other symbols of physical illness and limitation, have been left there by people who were healed by their visit.  The holy thing about Chimayo, beyond the energetic of the place itself, is the dirt.

Once through the low door exiting out of the main church into the room I've just described above, if you make an immediate right through another low door, you enter a small room with a hole in the middle of the floor.  In the hole is holy dirt.  There are small shovels in the hole to help you take some of it.  Containers are sold in the small store next to the church.  The dirt is used in all types of ways for healing.  And, in many cases, it works.

One of my friend's husbands was cured of cancer after going.  The doctor's had given up on him.  He went to Chimayo and had a very deep experience.  I don't even know if he did anything with the dirt, but I do know he was profoundly moved by being there.  He went in to see his doctor after his visit and the doctor was shocked that he was cancer free...no cancer anywhere in his body.  The doctor would not call it a miracle, he said the medical profession calls it spontaneous remission.  Okay.  Whatever you want to call it, a healing of miraculous proportions had taken place.

We also have Chaco Canyon.  Roswell would be considered a very special place by a number of people.  We have numerous hot springs and spas.  I consider the Sandia Mountains that ring the eastern side of Albuquerque to be quite special.  And, there are numerous locations in New Mexico that I haven't yet visited or am not aware of that I'm sure hold some power of their own.

Ultimately, I feel that wherever one is on December 12 or December 21, 2012 will be okay.  The power of those days will not be missed by anyone, no matter where they are on the planet.  And, the portals that will be open, on or around those dates, will open no matter where any of us are.  Those who feel called to special places to perform special ceremonies and rituals will be doing that work for all of us.  And, wherever any of us are, we will all benefit in the ways that are possible to benefit.

I don't know what might or might not happen on those dates.  But, we've collectively put so much energy into it, that we're bound to create something.  Ultimately though, we're in a long, slow build of change.  It's been happening for a long time and will continue to happen for many years to come.  I'll be as happy as anyone should something amazing happen on those dates.  Maybe we'll have undeniable First Contact with visitors from other planets.  Who knows?

But, at this point, whatever happens, it looks like I'll most likely be experiencing it from home.  I'm not worried about missing out.  And, you shouldn't be either.  But, if you feel called to be somewhere special, then absolutely go there.  If I get the call to be somewhere other than home, I'll go.  But, we're definitely on the threshold of great change, no matter what happens, and that's worth celebrating.  So, wherever you are on December 12 or December 21, or any other date in December...let's just open it all the way up...make sure you're celebrating! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Self I-Dentity through Ho'oponopono

Each and every one of us is totally responsible for our reality.  I know that might be hard to swallow for some of you, but...it's true.  And, it's absolutely empowering.

Accepting that we are totally responsible for our reality, there is a process that I find very helpful and very effective when dealing with problematic situations.  It's called Self-I-Dentity through Ho'oponopono or SITH.  The website is:  http://www.self-i-dentity-through-hooponopono.com.  I use it all the time and would recommend trying it.  What do you have to lose?

The first time I heard about SITH, was through a story that I read online about the experience of Dr. Hew Len Ihaleakala and his use of the process while working at a crowded facility for the mentally disabled.  He never met with any of the patients, but managed to heal all of them by taking full responsibility for their conditions and healing them through healing himself.

He would go through the case files of the mental patients, see what their problems were, own those problems as existing within himself and being outpictured in his reality through the patients, and then work on healing himself.  His process worked so well that all the patients recovered and the facility ended up being closed because it was no longer necessary to keep it open without any patients to fill it.

I have taken a class in Self I-Dentity Ho'oponopono from Dr. Ihaleakala and find the process to be easy to apply and surprising in its effectiveness.  The process was initially developed by a Hawaiian Kahuna named Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona.  She has since passed on, but Dr. Ihaleakala was her student and is now the master teacher of the process.

The process starts with taking responsibility for whatever is happening in your life.  When a problem or difficulty arises you see it as the reflection of something that needs to be healed in you.  And, the first thing you do is bring love into the equation.  You say, "I love you."  The "I love you" meaning that you love yourself and anyone involved with the situation you're focusing on.  Since everyone and everything is an aspect and expression of the One, when you say "I love you" you're saying it to all of creation.  You're setting the unfolding of the healing to happen in love.  I love you.

The second step of the process is to say, "I'm sorry."  The "I'm sorry" is basically about being sorry for whatever it is within you that is causing the problem to show up in your reality.  You don't need to know what it is in you that's causing the problem, you just need to take responsibility for it, and then apologize.  By the apology you are stating that you are willing to let it go...whatever the "it" is.

The third step of the process is to say, "Please forgive me."  You're asking yourself to forgive yourself, even though it looks like something happened to you, or someone else did something you think is wrong.  The solution is in self-forgiveness.  The forgiveness is the acceptance and the letting go...the release.

The fourth and last step of the process is to say, "Thank you."  No matter what happens, if we end up in a state of gratitude, the problem is gone.  Gratitude is a key attitude.  When we're truly grateful, we're relaxed, open, humble and connected with the Divine.  And, by giving thanks, we accept that the healing is done.

Four simple steps:
1)  I love you
2)  I'm sorry
3)  Please forgive me
4)  Thank you

Everyone can remember these four steps.  And, these four steps can and will change your life.  But, we have to be willing to take full responsibility for everything that shows up in our reality...whatever it is, whoever it is, whatever it looks like, however it comes...everything.  Once we accept that premise, then we move into love.  From a loving place we apologize for our miscreation, we ask for forgiveness, and then give thanks.  We accept and love ourselves no matter what has happened.  We forgive ourselves and move into a state of gratitude.  Thank you.  Amen.  And, so it is.  Done.

What is important to mention is that you might have to do these steps over and over and over for a while in order to attain the states necessary to gain results.  How do you know when it's working?  You feel peace.  You feel internal quiet.  You feel resolution.  So, keep repeating the steps until you feel release.  And, if you do the steps sincerely, release will come.

So...give it a try.  Why not?  It can only help.  Love...repentance...forgiveness...gratitude...release.  Simple and powerful.  So powerful.   

Monday, August 20, 2012

There is No Time

Time as we know it is going away.  As that happens, we're all feeling the pressure of it disappearing.  We don't have enough time.  Time goes by so quickly.  "Where did the time go?" we ask ourselves.  What we perceive as a lack of time can be the cause of some anxiety.  How can we get everything done we think needs to be done?

One of the side effects of feeling we have less time is that we have to prioritize what's really important.  If we're feeling a time crunch, and are not sure we will have enough time to do what we want to do, then we need to figure out what needs to get done first.  What's the priority?  A lot of things that aren't really necessary have to fall away.  The time speed up focuses us.

Life is pushing us forward and helping us get used to the idea that there really is no time.  The speed up that we feel in regard to time is to help push us through into no-time.  Time will keep speeding up, we'll keep wondering how we can get everything done in less and less time that goes by faster and faster, until we let go altogether and surrender into no-time.  We'll resist and try to keep up until we crack and let go.  The anxiety we feel around time is our resistance to letting it go.  But, once we do, the relief will be huge.  At some point, we'll pop through the time barrier into a reality where time is no longer a factor.

Time has been, and still is, a wonderful teacher.  But, as we move forward in our development and are able to expand our consciousness and take full responsibility for ourselves and our reality, we start to need the concept of time less and less.  There is an underlying flow to life that is outside of time.  Time is a 3D mechanism and has served us well.  But, we're moving out of 3D into 5D and beyond.  And, as we do this, time will fall away.  And, as time falls away, we'll grow into experiencing the multidimensionality of everything happening right here and right now.

As time continues to slip away, our ability to control a lot of things we currently think we're controlling will slip away as well.  We're being forced into letting go of all the ways we've used to attempt to control our worlds.  Time is just one of those ways.  Once we're able to surrender into the flow of Life, our desire to try to control everything will fall away.  Life becomes so much easier when we surrender the idea that we need to control anything.  Moving with the natural flow of Life brings a grace and ease into our experience.

So, enjoy time while we still have it.  We might as well appreciate every last second as we try to wring everything out of it we can.  But, the only reason we do that is because we think there's a limit on it.  When the truth is, that we have an endless amount of time, because it's just a concept we're working with in the moment.  We open it up or shut it down.  We're not at the mercy of time because there is no time.  Remember?..."There is no spoon."  Well, there is no time.  


Friday, August 17, 2012

On the Cutting Edge

Many people I've spoken with recently have mentioned that they're feeling anxiety for no apparent reason; that they're on edge and don't know why; that their nerves feel raw; and, that they feel very uncomfortably vulnerable.  So do I.  And, it's something we're collectively experiencing.

There is so much energy coming in to the planet right now...from our own solar sun; from the galactic center, also known as the great central sun; astrologically; and, from our brothers and sisters of other dimensions and other worlds.  This energy is coming to us to help us to clear out everything that holds us back in any way, and to help us raise our vibratory level in order to keep up with our planet, who is on her way to the fifth dimension and beyond.

We've all chosen to be here at this momentous time in Earth's evolution.  This amazing experiment of allowing those in human form to remain on the planet as she changes vibrational dimensions is a brand new experience in which we've all decided to participate.  Many of us have forgotten that we chose to be here during this time, and those of us who do remember choosing to be here really had any idea of what we were signing up for.  We just knew we had to be here.

We are in the process of transforming our physical bodies from a carbon-based system to a crystal-based system.  We're being given the amazing opportunity to do this while staying in the body.  Every other time this transition needed to take place, anywhere in creation, it was done by removing the life forms from the planet, letting the planet make it's dimensional adjustment, and then repopulating the planet with new life forms that were in alignment with the planet's new vibration.

There's a lot of energetic clearing of past patterns of limitation that needs to happen for us to ascend with the earth into a higher vibrational experience.  We can do this consciously, which a lot of us have been actively doing for many years now; or, we can be forced into it.  Life gives us endless opportunities to come into consciousness, release our patterns of limitation, and move into greater and greater levels of awareness.  But, however we might choose to go through this process of transformation, go through it we will.  And, for those who choose not to go through it at all right now, it will only mean that they get to leave the planet and continue their choice of vibrational expression in another place with which they resonate.  And, ultimately, after spending as long in 3D as they want, they'll also be given other chances to progress into higher levels of vibrational experience.  So, no one misses out!

But, right now, no matter how much work we might have done to clear ourselves energetically, we're all being pressed to move ahead quickly; to let go quickly; to lighten up quickly.  Our planet needs us to catch up now, and the energy and Light coming into the planet from various sources is helping us to do that.  As the Light comes in, it acts like an energetic plunger for us and releases a lot of past patterns and limitations very rapidly.  With this much energetic movement going on, it creates a feeling of anxiety.  Letting go of so much in a short time leaves us feeling very raw and vulnerable.  All the veils we've been using to feel safe and protected within ourselves are being stripped away.  And, as these old patterns and limitations move out, they flash through our consciousness as they go.  We have the choice of buying into them again, or of letting them go.  If we get caught in the energy that's trying to leave, it isn't able to leave.  We hold it in place by our attention, and by giving it our focus once again.  But, if we're able to stay conscious, and remember that the old energy is just trying to leave us and is saying good-bye on the way out, we can thank it as it goes and feel grateful that we're finally able to be free of it.

So, be kind to yourself.  If you're feeling anxious for no particular reason, just know and remember how much change on every level you're going through.  Learn to accept and allow unfocused anxiety and get familiar with feeling uncomfortable.  Just let whatever you're feeling be there; give it space but don't focus on it.  Remember that it's all moving, and let it move.  The more we can allow Life, in all its forms, to move through us, the more graceful our transition into our next phase of experience will be.  The more movement we're able to tolerate, the more change we're able to integrate, the more discomfort we're able to accept, the more at peace we'll be in the midst of whatever is occurring in the moment.

We're going to see some amazing and wonderful things in the years to come.  We're going to be so grateful that we were here in physical form to have this multidimensional experience; to take this ride; to go where no human has gone before.  A lot is being required of us, but we're all capable of rising to the occasion.  As many tracks as possible have been laid for us to follow, and where they end we're laying some new track of our own.  We chose to be here, at the cutting edge of Life happening anywhere.  We're being given so much support, on more levels than most of us are capable of understanding.  The more we can open ourselves to receive the fullness of Life on every level, no matter what is showing itself to us in the physical, and to accept and appreciate everything that shows up, the smoother our transition will be.

Ride this huge cosmic wave that is carrying us into new levels of Life with abandon.  Be grateful.  Be brave.  Be willing.  Be open.  Be unresisting.  Be fully alive.  Now is the time.  This is the place.  And, we are privileged to be here participating.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Beauty of Language

I went to a reading at the Bookworks bookstore last night.  It is my favorite Albuquerque bookstore and they regularly have readings and events.  The person reading was a friend of a friend, and I wouldn't have known about it if my friend hadn't called to tell me, and  I'm really glad I went.

The author is Amy Shea and the book is a collection of twelve of her short stories and is titled "Defending Happiness."  She read two of her stories, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  She was a good reader and put a lot of life into the stories as she read them.  She's also a very funny person and a very funny writer and the audience in attendance laughed a lot.  It was a very good turn out and seemed to be about as many people as could fit comfortably into the space.  I bought her book and had her sign it for me.

Hearing her read her stories really made me think about language and our use of words.  I love language and so appreciate a clever turn of phrase.  A large vocabulary so improves the enjoyment of both written and spoken material.  I recently got an email from a friend with a video of a comedian who was doing a very well-written parody of Shakespeare.  Before he launched into his Shakespearean monologue, he talked about how our vocabulary has shrunken drastically since Shakespeare's time.  I looked for this video--which I've managed to lose--in order to check the statistics he quoted as to the number of words Shakespeare had a working use of compared to the number of words we currently use.  So, since it's gone, I'm just going to take a stab at it from memory.  I THINK he said that Shakespeare had a working use of 54,000 words and that we currently only use about 3,000.  I could be wrong about those numbers, but what I do remember specifically, is that the difference was huge between then and now, even if not those exact amounts.

I wondered how our use of language had changed so greatly as to diminish our vocabularies so drastically.  We do speak more directly than people did in the past, which does away with words associated with pleasantries and politeness to a large extent.  We're more in a hurry now and our language reflects that.  Conversation used to be an art, but now seems to be an art that's largely gone by the wayside.  I think we're less specifically descriptive than we used to be, and we tend to use a lot of words over and over instead of varying our word choices.  We also use profanity more commonly than was used in times past.  But, I also think our diminished vocabularies reflect a lapse in education, a lack of reading, and some laziness.

It's easier to use words we're familiar with.  They come to mind quickly and most of the time do the trick.  It isn't that we're not understood by others, or that we don't understand what's said to us or written by others, but it would all be much more interesting and engaging if we used more specific descriptives and were able to turn a clever phrase.  I'm as lazy as the next person and catch myself using the same words over and over, or not being specific.  I'm trying to be more conscious of my use of language and broaden my vocabulary.  It's more interesting for me and I'm sure would be more interesting for my listener or reader as well.

I find the lack of basic English skills in our current younger generations to be disturbing.  And, one of my friends mentioned that her child's school is no longer teaching cursive writing.  What?!  When I asked why not, she said that the school didn't find cursive writing useful anymore now that computers were used so extensively.  I think it's a tragic loss.  Young students are taught to print, but mostly type on computer keyboards.  Books and time spent reading also seems to be largely falling away.  And, when reading happens, it's often done electronically.  Spelling skills are also seem to be going downhill.  For someone like myself, who finds great pleasure in reading and language, the loss of, or maybe I should say change of, our use of English is sad indeed.

I've switched over to reading a lot of the time on my iPad.  It's so convenient for traveling and downloading books onto a Kindle or iPad or similar device is less expensive than buying books.  But, given the choice, I still prefer to read a printed book.  There's something so enjoyable about holding a book in one's hands.  I love turning the pages and seeing how far I've gone and how far I have to go.  Reading electronically doesn't give one the same sense of passage as one gets from watching the pages pile upon themselves after they've been read while the unread pile of pages gets smaller and smaller.  I love flipping back to previous passages and reading them over sometimes, and that's more difficult to do when reading electronically.  I still have a good-sized set of bookshelves filled with books I've read and those I still hope to read.  When I finish reading a book electronically, I often just delete it.  Gone.  Not to be loaned or given to a friend to read, not to be opened and enjoyed again.

I don't like to be the one lamenting change.  I like to feel that I'm open to change and am able to change easily.  But, often that's an illusion.  I've seen so much change in my life, and so much has been irretrievably lost.  It isn't to say that what we used to experience is necessarily better, but some of it was.  And, I mourn the loss of the things I've loved, books and language among them.  It makes me appreciate them all the more.  I treasure a good book.  And, I am excited by precise and creative language.  I give deep thanks to all the writers still out there wrestling with themselves to find the perfect word, to unfold a detailed and engaging story; to take us on new and exciting journeys of imagination and creativity.  Thanks Amy Shea for your stories and all the reflection they've triggered for me.   

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome to the Real

Nice.  We often use the term "nice" to describe someone.  What does that term really mean?  The dictionary describes "nice" as:  pleasant in manner, good-natured, kind, polite.  Nice is a term rather like "interesting."  We often use it when we're either not able to be, or don't want to be, more specific.  For example:  "I didn't really like that movie, but there were some interesting things in it."  God forbid, anyone should press me for what the interesting things were.  I'd have to get really creative at that point.

Nice can also mean bland, or unimpressionable.  It's a type of cover-all description.  It's a rather amorphous term.  Vague in its meaning.  We don't usually use it to describe exciting people, or exceptional people, even though they might be good-natured and polite.  Often, I've noticed that we say someone is nice as a way to compensate for something else we've said about them that's not the most positive.  For example:  "I didn't find him/her very engaging, but he/she seemed nice."  Who cares if they're nice at that point?  We've already decided we're done with them.

We often think someone who is spiritual is also nice.  Or, that if they're spiritual, they should be nice as well.  Really?  I don't think so.  I've known people I thought were very spiritual, but who I would not describe as nice.  Someone who is forthcoming with the truth is not always thought of as nice.  Someone who doesn't suffer fools very well is not always thought of as nice.  Someone who is quick-minded and witty is not always thought of as nice.  Exceptionally intelligent or creative people are not always thought of as nice.  Anyone who doesn't react or respond the way we think they should will probably not be considered nice.

Nice people often let others get away with inappropriate or unacceptable behavior.  Nice people don't like confrontation.  Nice people don't call others on their untruths or lacks of integrity.  Nice people put up with disrespectful behavior.  Nice people make excuses for other peoples lapses.  Nice people do most of the work and don't complain.  Nice people don't stand up for themselves.  Nice people let others go first.  Nice people don't get angry.  Nice people don't set boundaries.  What do you think makes a nice person?  What attributes would someone have who you would consider to be nice?  Who do you think is a nice person and why?

The dictionary used the word "kind" as a descriptive for nice.  I disagree.  I don't think someone who is nice is also kind.  You could be very blunt and brisk, which are usually not attributes of someone considered nice, and still be kind.  Kindness has nothing to do with being nice.  And, if someone was kind, I wouldn't describe them as nice, I would specifically use the term "kind" as the descriptive.

Nice people tend to be people-pleasers.  "Oh, I couldn't do that, it wouldn't be nice."  But, often the thing that "wouldn't be nice" is the thing that, if done, would set a boundary; or, exhibit strength of character; or, stop abusive behavior.  The thing that "wouldn't be nice" would be truthful, or direct, or confrontational.  Nice people are often not truthful, because they're too concerned about hurting someone else's feelings to be truthful.  Nice people are not often direct.  And, nice people are rarely, if ever, confrontational.

I would be considered a nice person on many counts and by many people.  I've always tried to be nice at the expense of:  what I really need or want; being truthful; standing up for myself; setting boundaries; and, ultimately, at the expense of myself on many levels.  I'm guilty of all the things I've listed that nice people are or do.  But, I'm tired of being nice.  As long as I'm retiring from script supervising, I think I'll retire from being nice as well.  Why not?  Enough of being nice.  Now, I just want to be authentic.

I don't care about pleasing anyone but myself at this point.  I'm tired of worrying more about other people's feelings than I do about my own.  This is one of the advantages of getting older, you get too tired to keep up the illusions and masks you wore when you were younger.  You let go of a lot of ideas and behaviors in favor of authenticity.  You're past caring what other people think.  It takes too much energy to be anything other than direct.  It's so much easier to deal with things directly in the moment than to sidestep them in favor of someone else's feelings.  I feel better when I deal with things truthfully in the moment.  And, by doing that, I can let them go and move on instead of carrying them around.

So, no more Mr. Nice Guy, as the saying goes...even though I'm female.  Now, things just are what they are.  Like it or don't like it, it doesn't matter to me.  Mess with me at your own peril.  I'm not holding anything back these days.  Ask me a question, you're going to get the truth, even if it's not what you wanted to hear.  The days of glossing over other people's bad behavior and rationalizing excuses are gone.  Now, it's welcome to the real, and what a relief that is.    

 

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Ancient of Days"

I just finished another amazing book.  "Ancient of Days" by Michael Bishop.  It was recommended by Orson Scott Card in one of his book introductions, so I had to read it.  And, I'm very glad I did.

I've literally just finished it and am still in its thrall.  It's having its way with me and I'm glad to surrender.  It's deeply impressed me and taken me through almost every emotion.  It has also stimulated my mind and triggered spiritual thoughts.  The characters, though not all particularly likeable, were very relatable.  I cared about them and ached for and with them.  The story totally drew me in and took me on a journey of the soul.

It brought up ideas and situations that were new to me.  It was joyful and wrenching, sad and uplifting.  It touches on what it means to be human, and what it means to love past all appearances and preconceptions.  It's brave and beautiful, thinking and feeling.

Good books are bridges to new thoughts, new feelings, new perceptions, and new paradigms.  They transport you multidimensionally into new realms of reality.  And, we're changed and expanded by reading them.  This is such a book.

I'm a voracious reader, I have been all my life.  I love to disappear into a good book.  I love a book that grips me and holds me and doesn't let me go, and I mourn the end of it.  This book will live with me now, as the great ones do.  They become part of us and continue to shape us as Life goes forward.  The seeds they plant continue to grow in us and take form in many deep and interesting ways.

I am, once again, brought to my knees in gratitude.  Gratitude for Orson Scott Card's recommendation, gratitude for the beauty of Michael Bishop's work, and gratitude for the gifts of what it has seeded in me.  I live.  I grow.  I expand.  I am.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where is Your Focus?

I was having a conversation today with a friend who is afraid of Mitt Romney's current positioning in the presidential election.  And, because she doesn't want him to win the election, she was giving him a lot of energy.  She was talking about all his negative aspects and influence and going on and on about why she doesn't want him to be president.  And, she's not unusual in doing this.  But, the problem with doing this is that she was giving more energy to what she doesn't want than to what she does want, which is that Obama get elected for a second term as president.

When we complain about something or rail against something or someone, instead of giving them so much of our focus and energy, if we focused instead on what we want, we would not only feel better, but we would be putting our energy in the best possible direction.  Life assists us in manifesting what we put our focus on.  If we put our focus on things we don't want, we're giving them energy and bringing them into being.  And, often when this happens to us, we either can't figure out why the unwanted thing came into being, or we've put so much energy into it we say, "I knew it."

It doesn't matter what it is that we want, large or small, collective or personal.  As "The Course in Miracles" says, "There is no order of difficulty in miracles."  What we focus on is what we create.  We need to watch where our energy goes.  Am I focusing on what I want?  Or, am I focusing on what I don't want?  Whatever it is you'd like to bring into your life...is your focus there?  Do you resonate with it?  Are you an energy match for it?

In regard to the election, we need to focus on the candidate we want to win, not the one we don't want.  Instead of complaining about the candidate we don't want, we can focus on all the reasons why we want the person we do.  The more energy we give the person we want, the more energy goes into the collective with that desire, and the more support there is for it manifesting.  We are each far more powerful than we usually give ourselves credit for.  Each and every one of us makes a difference.  Focus on who you want.  Focus on why you want them and concentrate on how it feels for them to win.  See and feel that as a reality.

Why do we give so much energy to what we don't want?  I hope this dynamic is changing for all of us.  Why do we allow our fears to rule us?  If we concentrate on what we want, instead of the fears we have about getting it or not getting it, then the fears will fall away.  They might not disappear, but they will recede and stop having the power to stop us.  We will move through them, and empower ourselves in doing so.  We will find solutions instead of problems.  We will see a way where there was no way.  A door will open that was previously closed.  An opportunity will arise that no one could have imagined or predicted.  Where is your focus?

I want Obama to win the election, too.  I focus all my energy on him and, in my reality, he IS president.  Mitt Romney holds no interest for me.  I give him no energy or attention.  I remember how happy and hopeful the entire world was when Obama won the last election.  And, I feel that now in regard to this election.  I feel we've been lifted up over the last four years.  Maybe not as much as we'd like, but we're on an upward trajectory collectively.  And, I'd like that to continue.  That's what I resonate with, that's what I feel, that's what I support.

Focus on what you want.  Make it real.  You are powerful.  Never doubt it.  See it.  Feel it.  Be it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Memory and Non-attachment

My magical mystery tour of old haunts in Southern California continued today with the best drive from Los Angeles to San Diego I think I've ever had.  Friday morning.  A work day.  I left Los Angeles at 8:15am.  I should have been in gridlocked rush hour traffic, but no.  Wow!  All the way from Culver City to El Cajon the traffic was open and moving.  It was shockingly wonderful.

If you're not from Southern California, you have no idea how much of a topic of conversation traffic is.  People endlessly discuss the traffic and what a nightmare it is to get from one place to another within any reasonable time frame.  But, I've had miraculously challenge-free driving experiences this last week.  And, I hope the whole challenge-free driving experience continues this coming week.  It's been a wonderful gift.

My family is in San Diego.  This is where I grew up.  It's familiar and yet foreign all at the same time.  I haven't lived here for 35 years, and it's changed drastically from what it was when it was home to me.  There were fields of agriculture, groves of fruit trees, and pastures of horses.  There were uncrowded beaches, more highways than freeways, and crossing the border into Mexico was no big deal.  We spent weekends at the zoo and Balboa Park, and driving up to Disneyland for the day was easy and inexpensive.

I drive around San Diego now and only intermittently recognize things.  It's so built up that it doesn't look anything like it did when I was younger.  My sister has a memory like a steel trap.  She remembers every little detail of our lives.  I'm always asking her where we are, and she's always telling me and then reminding me of things that happened that I have no recollection of whatsoever.  She's like a walking narrative of my childhood.  She's always saying, "Don't you remember when..." and I'm always saying, "I don't remember that."

I find it interesting what we remember.  And, not only what we remember, but how we remember it.  Even when I do remember things my sister brings up, my memory of them is somehow different from hers.  We drove by an old house we used to live in at one point today.  We lived there for two years and I have one searing memory from that house, which is of a time when my sister and I were running around playing and accidentally knocked a hutch with my mother's treasured dishes in it off of the cabinet on which it was sitting.  One minute laughter and fun, and the next minute angry screaming and mortal fear.  My sister remembers the whole two years, but for me, that's all I have.

The past isn't very alive for me, which, when I think about it, is most likely a good thing.  No real point in ruminating around in things gone by.  I remember the high points and the low points, although not a lot of what went on in between.  Life has taken me to many places and given me many different and interesting experiences, and there always seems to be something happening in the present to take my attention.  I actually hate conversations about "the old times" or about what happened "back in the day."  I have little patience for too much reminiscing.

This trip, which is a bit nostalgic for me, is an indulgence in certain ways.  I'm allowing myself a leisurely looks at things past and a gentle good bye.  I normally just move on, without a look back.  So, this memory lane experience is different for me.  I'm finding it very settling and enjoyable.  It's a welcome luxury.  I'm spending three days in San Diego, which is more time than I think I've spent here since I left years ago.  It feels a bit full circle.  I'm able to enjoy San Diego in the way that I'm now able to enjoy Los Angeles, which is with a certain detachment.  And, it brings some integration and a deeper understanding of the Buddhist idea of non-attachment.  The non-attachment allows me to enjoy these places with a sense of freedom and take nothing for granted.  It allows me to enjoy the beauty that is here without an overlay of distraction or preoccupation.  I'm simply open to it all and taking it all in.  I'm accepting it for what it is and loving it for being that.

I haven't always been able to say this, but I'm so loving my life right now.  The every day of it.  The simplicity of it.  The freedom of it.  The beauty of it.  The gift of it.  Gratitude is living in me and opening my heart and my perceptions in new and wondrous ways.  I can actually say that I wake up with excitement in the morning at the prospect of what the day will bring.  It's like I finally opened a window and am letting the breath of Life blow through.  I'm feeling younger and more vital than I have in a very long time.

I don't think looking back is a way to live your life, but looking back every once in a while is valuable.  It gives you a sense of how far you've come, how much you've learned and experienced, how precious everything has been.  And, anything that brings us into a state of gratitude is a good thing.  No matter what you might be experiencing in your life right now, it is my hope for you that you can find your way to a place of gratitude.  It will make all the difference.    

How Free is Your Love?

Why is it so hard to let those we love have their own journey?  We want to protect them; we want to show them how; we want to do it for them; we want to save them from making mistakes.  All good intentions, but misguided.

It's essential for each of us to walk our own path, to find our own way.  It's empowering and necessary.  And, yes, we'll make mistakes along the way, but that's how we learn.  As much as those around us want to prevent us from making mistakes, there's value in doing it.  We always learn more from experience than from what we're told to do or told not to do.  And, when we learn through our own choices and the consequences of those choices, we gain moral authority.  We know ourselves more deeply.

When we allow another to have their journey, we set ourselves free and we empower them.  When we let another go into their own experience, we're trusting them and honoring their ability to make their own choices and live by them.  It's not always easy to let another go, but until we do, the relationship can not fully bloom into what is possible.  As long as one person puts themselves above or over the other, the relationship is limited.  But, when both people are set free, the relationship is able to grow.

It's not easy to watch those we love make mistakes that we feel we could have saved them from.  But, truly, we can't really save anyone, and when we understand the value of all experience, we wouldn't want to.  And, when we take experience from another and take it upon ourselves, we make our own journey more burdensome.

If we were able to support each other through our experiences, discuss and advise but not overpower, and let each other make our own decisions and choices, we'd all feel better about ourselves.  And, if we stayed focused on ourselves and our own journey, and let everyone else do the same, we would all be less overwhelmed and worried.  The other thing that happens when we try to walk someone's journey for them is that we fall into judgment about what they're doing.  We have our own agenda about what we think they should be doing and get upset if things go differently than we think they should.  And, no one feels good being judged, or being the recipient of our upset or anger because of the way they chose to do something.

It can be particularly difficult if someone we love is exhibiting what we see as self-destructive behavior.  And, letting go in these types of situations can be especially painful, but it's still necessary.  We can only ever save ourselves, and allow the other to come into awareness or realization at their own pace.  If someones's self-destructive behavior is affecting or harming those around them, something might need to be done to stop the harm that's being caused by removing everyone from immediate proximity.  But, the person will need to find their way back on their own.

We're all here to love each other and teach each other and support each other and help along the way.  But, we also lift each other up by honoring each other's path.  Our paths might come together or move apart, we might walk with someone for a while and then need to walk separately, and it's all okay.  Being there for someone doesn't mean holding onto them with an iron grip, or expecting them to do things the way we think they should be done.  Being there for someone means accepting them for who they are and loving them.  And, no matter whether someone is with us or away from us, we can always love them.  No matter what they've done or haven't done, we can still love them.  Even when they've lost their way, we can still love them.

Loving someone is the greatest gift we can give.  And, real love is always based in freedom and respect.  How free is your love? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So Grateful

I'm in Los Angeles.  I've emptied out my storage space and dealt with all my stuff and now I'm enjoying being here and am enjoying seeing as many of my friends as I can.  Because I'm in the process of saying good bye and no one knows when I'll be back next, I'm going out of my way to see my friends, and they're going out of their way to see me.  And, each time I get together with someone my heart opens further and I feel more and more love.

I'm so grateful for all of the wonderful people I'm able to call "friend."  One of my friends told me that she'd recently come to the realization that she had no friends, literally no one.  It was a sad and shocking statement, and was also accompanied with a lot of confusion as to how that had happened.  I didn't have any answers for her, but it made me endlessly grateful for the friends I have.

The other thing I'm realizing is that I'm seeing people I haven't seen in a very long time, but people I really enjoy.  When I was working in the film industry I'd see people on a show or at a union meeting or at some event.  When I was off work, I needed time alone and I'd run around getting all the things done that I couldn't get done while I was working.  Then, suddenly, I'd get another job and be off to another location and wouldn't have found time to connect with my friends.  But, now that I don't live in Los Angeles anymore and I can't look forward to running into my friends at work, I need to actively seek them out and arrange to see them.  It makes my time with them special.  And, I am truly appreciating each and every one of them.

My time here is nostalgic and bittersweet.  I drive past old residences and places I used to frequent like touch stones.  I feel strangely detached from this place, and yet able to fully enjoy it in a way I wasn't able to when I lived here.  I see the beauty of it more clearly because I don't live here.  I notice even small things that I would have missed before.  I have a kind of hyper-awareness of everything.  Because I'm not sure when I'll be back, and even if I do come back, it will never be the same as it was before, everything is more precious, more meaningful.  I'm taking mental snapshots of things and imprinting myself.

This current letting go of so much of what has comprised my life up until now is generating deep feelings of gratitude, and deep feelings of love and appreciation.  It's such a wonderful farewell to my past and such a clean opening to what comes next, unknown as it is right now.  And, I'm very aware of the people who will move forward with me, and of all that my life has given me up to this point.  I'm hoping that as I move forward I will continue to feel gratitude and love in a conscious way more than I have before and not take my life or my relationships for granted in any way.

As difficult as my life has been in certain ways, it's also been blessed and wonderful.  I've been amazingly fortunate, and I'm very aware of my good fortune.  I hope you can always see the blessings in your life, and that you are always able to be grateful for what you have, and never take anything or anyone for granted.  Life is so precious.