Notes on the Journey

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Truth Shall Set You Free

I had a session with an animal communicator for my cats.  The animal communicator's name is Madison Owl, and her website is www.madisonowl.com.  For all of you with animals, I would highly recommend a session with an animal communicator.  Through this type of communication you learn so much about your animal's thoughts and perceptions and it brings you closer together.

I had an Emotion Code session earlier in the week for the cats and it was the Emotion Code practitioner who recommended Madison.  After the release of some of the blocked emotions, it seemed like a good time for some conversation and communication that can only be facilitated by one whose gift is an ability to communicate with animals in a way that most of us can't.  It has been my deepest desire, ever since Buddy came to live with us two years ago, for all three cats to be friends and to co-exist peacefully.  And, I was so hopeful that the session with Madison would help us to manifest this desire as reality.  But, no.  At least not in the way I'd hoped.

The "no" is not because of any inability of communication on Madison's part, or because of the cats not understanding my desire.  It is because that's not what the cats want.  And, this is the key to communication at a deep level, with humans as well as animals.  When we can see, understand and accept the truth, even if it's not what we want, then solutions present themselves.  And, through talking with the cats and understanding how they felt about the situation, solutions were indeed presented.

Buddy is older--now 15--and locked into his thoughts, perceptions and behavior.  As Madison put it, "He's rather hard-wired to act the way he does and it would take years of therapy to change him."  When he met me, he was an only cat and I rented the apartment where he lived for a month temporarily.  At the end of that month, his person asked if I wanted to take him because she could no longer keep him.  By that time, I'd fallen in love with him and the feeling was reciprocal, so there was no thought to the decision of "yes."  But, that meeting was the beginning of a perception that would make integrating Buddy into our family unit an insurmountable problem.

During our initial month together, Buddy came to think of me as his, and at this point he was still an only cat.  He thought of it as his job to love and protect me.  When he came with me to Albuquerque, even though I'd had an animal communicator in Los Angeles prepare him for meeting the girls, and he seemed excited to meet others of his kind, he didn't understand that the girls lived in the same house with us and that we were all one family.  The girls hostile reception of him didn't help matters any.  Buddy always thinks of the girls as enemy invaders.  He can't understand why they're in the house or why I'm nice to them.  He keeps them herded into the bedroom where he can control them.  In order to protect me, he has to control the enemy.  And, this perception is not going to change.  Okay.

So, now, instead of constantly hoping that Buddy will change, or the girls will change, I just get it.  Acceptance is key to any kind of solution or change for the better.  Once I accept his attitude, I can work with it.  This goes for humans as well.  It's amazing what our animals can teach us if we let them.

Negri doesn't really care about Buddy other than wishing he weren't here.  She just wants to be able to use the whole house.  Sophie hates Buddy.  She thinks he's useless and a mama's boy and can't figure out why I keep him around.  Sophie is very passionate.  She's never going to change and decide Buddy is okay.  Again, in order to work with her I need to accept her feelings, not deny them or hope they'll change.

So, the solutions that we arrived at are simple and doable, and came out of seeing things the way they are, not the way I want them to be.  Since Buddy was always an only cat until coming to live with me and the girls in Albuquerque, he was used to a lot of alone time, which he misses.  Therefore, now he will get to spend some alone time in my office every night while the girls get to come out of the bedroom and have the run of the house.  Win win.  They all get treats at the beginning and the end of this time period and couldn't be happier with the change.  We've done this for two nights now and it's working!  I also spend more time playing with all of them, which they enjoy immensely.

A change of larger proportions that I'm also making is to install a kitty door into my bedroom window so the girls can go outside.  They've been indoor kitties for a very long time but they want to be able to go outside, Sophie in particular.  When they had the run of the house they didn't mind staying indoors, but since Buddy now keeps them trapped in the bedroom, they need an escape hatch.  I have an appointment set for tomorrow morning for the kitty door person to come and assess the situation.  It's going to be a considerable expense that I wasn't expecting, but the results it will bring will be worth every penny.  And, it gives me a chance to expand into greater abundance, knowing that all my needs are always met.

I've also got three white candles a room burning in the house to release any residual energy of tension and conflict.  By the time the candles are finished burning, the kitty door should be installed in the window and the girls' world will have been expanded to include the backyard.  Sophie played with me and let me cuddle her while watching television last night.  Amazing!  And, I'll keep letting Negri know she can come out of the bedroom in the evening until she understands it.  Sooner or later, she'll realize there's no Buddy there chasing her back into the bedroom.  And, Buddy is happy to have his contemplative time alone.  Whew...

All of this change was possible because I was able to see the truth of the situation and then hear what was needed and implement it.  Once I let go of my agenda of "can't we all just be friends" it opened the door to a solution more based in truth than illusion.  We all have agendas based in illusion operating somewhere in our lives.  And, the persistent desire to have these agendas fulfilled is what prohibits us from seeing the truth of the situation and being able to find workable solutions.  It's the old way for us to think we can force our desires onto a situation, person or animal.  It's also very ego-centric to think our desire is the best idea anyway.  And, until we let go of our desire, we can't see what might be better that's just behind it.

It's not always easy to see the truth.  It can be very disappointing.  Letting go of our illusions and desires in order to see how things really are so we can respond to them in truth can be a difficult journey, but it's a journey worth taking.  It is one of my constant prayers to be able to see the truth of any and all situations.  But, I'm only beginning to understand what that means.  And, being able to see the truth of things requires a giving up of agendas, desires, expectations, will and control.  I don't think of myself as a controlling person, but that's another illusion I need to give up.  Do I have control issues?  Yes!  Do I impose my will on people, animals and situations?  Yes!  Do I have rampant agendas, desires and expectations running my life?  Yes!  I wish these things weren't true, but they are.  And, if I can't see that they are, I can't affect them.  We have to see it before we can change it.

When we're able to show up in our lives without agendas, desires, and expectations and allow each person and situation to reveal themselves in the truth of what they are, not only will we be able to respond more effectively and authentically, but life will become more exciting.  We won't be holding anything in the past.  We'll be allowing each day and each experience to unfold in the moment unhampered by any overlay of will or illusion.  Things will be able to reveal themselves to us that we couldn't have seen before because we would have been blocking it by our agendas, desires and expectations.  Once we take off the blinders and pierce the veils of illusions we've been putting on things, truth is able to come in and our experience of our world expands exponentially.

Seeing the truth of the situation with my cats is just a beginning.  I have a lot of agendas to give up; a lot of desires to let go of; and, a lot of expectations to release.  But, at least now my perception has been opened to the point where I can take that journey.  See the truth.  Be the truth.  Live the truth.  These are my prayers.  And, they're being answered, one step at a time.  Stay awake.  Be present.  Keep walking.  These are my mantras.  And, they're working as I take each step.  It is my wish that each and every one of us is able to live the truth, but I give that wish up in order that I might live the truth as it presents itself to me.  And, I know that you will find the truth as you are ready for it and I honor your journey.  And, once again, I am on my knees in gratitude for the depth of this awareness, for which I have no further words.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Never Forget

 
In those days, we finally chose to walk like giants...

Awakening                                                                                                                         
©2012 Brian Andreas 
 
 
The above bit of art is called "Awakening" and is from Brian Andreas at StoryPeople.  His website is www.storypeople.com where they have many wonderful art pieces for sale.  This particular one is one of my favorites and I have a print of it framed on my living room wall.
 
We are in times that could be called trying, to say the least.  There are many things happening in the world that might be triggering us into feelings of anger, limited thinking, insecurity and fear just to name a few.  But, in these times, when we're feeling triggered into something that pulls us down instead of lifting us up, if we can stop, center ourselves, connect to our essence, and remember that, no matter what things might look like, love is all there is, we will move through this period of time with much more grace and ease.
 
My feeling is that, "In those times..."  refers to now.  In these times, these difficult times.  "We finally chose to walk like giants and hold the world in arms grown strong with love."  Yes, yes, yes.  "We finally chose...," yes, finally, but still made the choice.  It might have been a long time coming, but we finally made the choice for love.  Making the choice for love is a choice we can make in any moment, through any decision or action or thought throughout every day.  The choice for love is always there to be made.  And, it is my hope that we all find our way into being able to make that choice, not only more often, but consistently.
 
"...to walk like giants..." because when love is the guiding light, the awareness, the constant, we are like giants in terms of our impact and effect in the world.  "...and hold the world in arms grown strong with love."  When we embody the love that truly IS all creation, we're able to contain the All of it because we ARE the All of it.  Everything is grown stronger with love.
 
"And there may be many things we forget in the days to come,..."  These times will tempt us to forget who we are and what we want for ourselves.  We'll be pulled by the negativity that is being triggered by the immense amounts of light that are pouring into the planet.  And, sometimes we'll forget and backslide into it.  "...but this will not be one of them."  But, of all the things we might forget, let's be sure that love is not one of them.  Let's rest in the knowing that love is always present, and not allow ourselves to be convinced otherwise.
 
For all of us who are able to remember and hold the vibration of love, it falls to us to lift the others who have forgotten until they can remember as well.  And, if we're able to walk like giants and hold everything that's crying for love in our strong arms, then the cries will be answered and the memory will return and love will grow.  We can not curse the darkness because that gives it focus and power.  We have to light a candle.  We have to keep our heart flames lit and burning brightly.  We have to be beacons of love and light so that those who are lost can see us and find their way back.  We have to shine with everything we've got in order to dispel the forces that would take us down.  Yes, the darkness is there and must be acknowledged, but by shining our light into it and upon it we set it free.  We have to love it free.
 
So, make the choice for love, walk like giants in the world, contain the All in strong arms, and never forget.  Never forget.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's All Within Me

For my entire life I've searched for answers outside myself.  I've always thought that someone else had the answers, or that someone else knew more than I did, or that someone else was more divinely connected than I was, or...on and on and on.  The list is long and I always somehow came at the end of it.

I don't know what finally moved me into a place where I put myself at the top of the list, but it happened today.  Tonight actually.  While I was sitting in a movie theater watching a bad movie.  I just suddenly realized that all the answers to all the questions I've ever had are within me.  I had an awareness that all I had to do was relax into myself and open up to All That Is and the All that holds everything would fill me.

I've had many awarenesses about the deeper nature of things in the past, but few real shining moments when the Universe opens up before me.  This was one of them.  And, I wasn't meditating or praying or concentrating on anything other than how boring the movie I was watching was and how I much I wished it would end.  And then, it hit me, out of the blue.

Spiritual teachers and literature always say to look within, and I've certainly done plenty of it, but with a limited result.  I understood the concept intellectually and agreed with it, but I still kept looking outside myself.  Yes, yes...but.  And, I might forget and look outside myself again but, tonight, right now, I KNOW it's all within me.  I KNOW there's not one question I could have for which I don't have the answer; that there's not one need I could experience that wouldn't be fulfilled.

This is the kind of moment the ego wants to hold on to, but it is uncontainable, uncontrollable.  These kinds of awarenesses came as they will and stay as long as they will, and leave us forever changed.  I've had a few such moments in the past, and I hope to have many more in the future, and they are to be savored for however long the window stays open.  Remember this!  Remember what this feels like!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

After the initial impact of the awareness itself comes the integration and application of the new way of being.  We get the gift and then have to grow into the actual embodiment of it.  But, the quiet and calm empowerment I feel from the receipt of this most recent gift is exciting indeed.  The waves of gratitude roll through me.  My vibration enjoys this new resonance.  The instrument of my body retunes itself to accommodate this new harmonic.  How amazing.

We never know when these types of gifts will be bestowed upon us, or where they come from exactly.  And, there's something so perfect about the fact that it came to me as I was just sitting in a movie theater.  I wasn't engaged in any type of "spiritual practice," I was in the midst of doing something very worldly.  But, this is it...the world is not separate from whatever we might consider to be our "spiritual practice."  Living in the world IS our "spiritual practice," although it's not practice, it's real, every single minute.  How we live our lives is our spiritual path.  Our lives are the mystery school.  Initiations happen every day with every choice and thought and action.  There is no compartmentalization and separation of the world and Spirit.  We're never off the path.  Life is the path.  We're all on it, and we're all in the process of remembering the same things.

I say remembering because it's not a journey of going anywhere, but of remembering and opening into what we already know and have awareness of.  Everything is here, right now.  There's nothing missing.  There's nothing to find.  It's literally about relaxing and opening into what is already present.  And, these miraculous bodies we've been given, allow us to actually feel the entirety of creation.  Our bodies truly are blessed vehicles, and do not limit us in any way.  The only things that limit us are our mental concepts.  And, I once again quote from Morpheus in "The Matrix" when he says to Neo, "FREE YOUR MIND."  Only now I finally get it.  Yes.  Free your mind, indeed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Learn As You Go

I have three cats, and I love them...unconditionally, unabashedly, wildly, completely, overwhelmingly, unreservedly, generously, over-the-top love them.  I'm also allergic to them.  It's something I work on in healing sessions, but have yet to affect.

Recently, it was suggested that I would do better in terms of my health if I were to re-home the cats.  The allergies are bad enough and affect my health on enough levels that I actually considered it.  I contacted everyone I knew to see if anyone was interested in adding any of my cats to their household.  Or, if anyone they knew might be interested.  But, no.  This is one of those times when Life saved me from myself.  Thank goodness no one stepped forward.  As much as I thought it might be the best thing for all of us in the moment, it would have been a huge mistake.  It would have broken all our hearts beyond repair and the damage would have been way worse than whatever my allergies are causing.

I understood all the logical reasons why re-homing the cats might be a good idea.  But, it didn't take into account the love factor.  It didn't take into account how long we've all been together and how our love for each other shapes our lives.  My cats have been through a lot with me, especially my two girls.

I rescued Negri from a shelter when she was four months old.  She'd been abused and injured and was feral before I adopted her.  She had a very difficult adjustment into domestic life, but she's now been with me for thirteen years and one of her greatest fears is being taken away from me.  She's turned into a very grateful and loving companion who would have been confused and devastated by being re-homed.  Through an animal communicator, Negri told me that she is the reincarnation of a cat I previously had named Eva.  Eva was a beautiful, gray Siamese.  I left her with my ex-husband one time when I was on location and he lost her.  He was living in a motor home at the time and parking in a variety of different parking lots.  He made the mistake of letting her out in unfamiliar territory and she never came back.  I was angry, sad and homicidal.  When Negri told me she was the reincarnation of Eva, she said that she came back to be with me so we could finish our time together.  Well, you can only imagine what the tragedy of re-homing her would have done.  And, the guilt would have eaten away at me in ways I can only begin to imagine.

When Negri was three years old, I adopted Sophie from a friend's litter.  She was six weeks old when she came to live with me and Negri and she took over immediately.  If Negri had not been so kind and patient with her, battles would have erupted.  But, Sophie's small size and young age worked for her.  The interesting thing about Sophie is that when I got her she was gray with blue eyes.  But, she loved Negri so much, and thought Negri was so beautiful, that she morphed herself into a mini-version of Negri...black with gold eyes and a little white patch under her chin.  It makes her very happy when I tell her she has beautiful eyes, and she's very proud of herself for accomplishing this feat of shape-shifting.  Sophie is very mischievous and a bit of a bully, but Negri loves her in spite of everything and they are fast friends with a close relationship built over the many years they've been together.

For all of their lives until now, I've left them home while I've gone on location for months of time.  I have a caretaker come in twice a day to take care of them, but it's not the same as having a loving person in the house living with them.  They've been so accepting and patient with me for all the long absences, and always happy to see me when I finally come home.  To have re-homed them just at the time when I finally retired and was going to be able to be home and spend time with them, would have been unforgivable.  Thank goodness Life conspired against me and saved me from having to wrestle with that.

Buddy joined us a couple of years ago.  I rented an apartment temporarily in Los Angeles while I was there for work, and the deal was that I would take care of the resident cat during my stay.  Buddy was that cat.  We bonded immediately.  His previous person had adopted him out of a shelter when he was three years old and he'd been with her for nine years as an only cat.  He thinks of himself as more human than feline.  He's a love bug and very physically affectionate.  He loves to be held and cuddled.  His purr is as loud as a jet engine and pretty constant.  After staying with him in his apartment for a month, his previous person told me she was moving and couldn't take him with her and asked me if I'd like to adopt him.  Yes!  By that time I'd fallen totally in love with him.  So, he traveled back to Albuquerque with me, much to the surprise and consternation of the girls.

Buddy was an invader and usurper of my love and attention from the get go.  The girls have never really accepted him into the household.  In the beginning, he was delighted to have the opportunity to be with others of his kind and only wanted to be friends.  But, after constant and unrelenting rejection by the girls, he's turned a bit aggressive toward them.  There are places in the house and times when all is peaceful and co-existance is possible, but there are also times when all-out war happens.  But, Buddy has a piece of my heart, and re-homing him would have ripped that piece out and left a hole in its place.  He follows me around the house like a little dog and talks to me and loves me and makes me his own.  His absence is unthinkable.

The other thing I realize in hindsight is that my efforts to re-home the kitties were in response to a suggestion, not out of my own awareness and knowing.  I understood the suggestion and could see the benefit of it, but it did not come from within me.  So, it has proved to have been a good lesson in further honing my internal instincts.  Did it come from me?  No.  Okay, then.  What am I thinking?  This is an important barometer for similar situations in the future.  People are always suggesting things, and often their suggestions are good ones, but they are not always good for me.  People suggest things out of their own situations and experience and perceptions, which often does not align with my situation, experience or perception.  And, it's important to be able to make these distinctions.

Because of the mistake Life helped me to avoid with my cats, I now have a stronger sense of my own internal guidance system.  I now have another tool in my kit to discern and filter the suggestions that come to me.  I'm now more able to say, "Thanks, but that's not for me."  People mean well when they suggest things; they really think they're helping and coming up with viable solutions to whatever it is we're facing in the moment, and what they suggest is worth considering.  But, in the end, we have to make our own decisions based on our own knowledge and intuition.  Ultimately, I realized that re-homing the cats would have been a huge mistake that there was no way to come back from.  And, having made those types of mistakes in the past, I'm beyond relieved not to have to add another one to the list.

Sometimes our live-and-learn experiences can be devastating in their consequences.  We can make mistakes so tragic that we can never recover from them, can never fix them or make them better, and will mourn them for the rest of our days.  We can learn from them.  We can struggle to forgive ourselves.  We can move on as best we can.  We can apologize and atone.  But, we can't change them.  What's done is done.  But, they do make us softer, more understanding, more forgiving.  If I could make that mistake, then I can understand how someone else could, too.  And, I want to be forgiven for my mistake, so I am able to forgive someone else for theirs.  We're all capable of horrible trespass and unconsciousness, but those acts are not who we are.  Those acts do define who we are ever after, though.  It's ultimately how we respond to those acts and what we learn from them that grows and changes us.

I love my cats all the more for having almost lost them.  I appreciate them on levels I didn't before.  I notice them and spend more time with them.  I listen to them and respond to them.  I hear what they want and give it to them.  My relationship with them is deeper than ever.  I'm more committed to them and my heart is more open, not only to them but to everyone and everything.  No matter what is happening, or what suggestions might have been given, if love is at stake--and, it always is--don't be hasty in your decisions.  Give yourself time to come to your senses.  Give yourself time to discern what's really happening.  Give yourself time to hear that still, small voice within.

If we're careful, the possibility of the mistake can teach us without the actuality of having made it.  If we consider the consequences of our actions beforehand and feel those through, we can learn as we go and avoid the traps instead of falling into them.  Of course, there are the things that come out of left field and hit us before we can think or know what happened, and those things are unavoidable and often require more of us than we ever thought we could give.  But, most of the time, that's not the case.  Most of the time, it's about awareness and choice.

So, next time you get into a situation where suggestions are made and choices need to be made, take your time.  Listen to yourself.  Feel it.  Learn as you go, not in hindsight.  And, be happy and grateful, not sorry.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Art and Work as Sacred Service

I started in the film industry in San Francisco and worked there for a couple of years before moving to Los Angeles.  When I first came to Los Angeles, I stayed with a friend I'd made while working on a Director's Workshop for Women project at the American Film Institute.  She was gracious enough to allow me to stay in her guestroom for quite a while until I found my way and a place to live of my own.

My first place in Los Angeles came from a woman I met while working on a bottom-of-the-barrel low-budget production for which I was paid pennies.  She worked in the wardrobe department as a costumer and we enjoyed each others company.  I mentioned that I was looking for a place to live, and she mentioned that she was going away on location and told me I could sublet her place while she was gone.  The rent was perfect for my price range, just $240 a month.  It was one in a row of four-plexes a block from Paramount Studios in Hollywood.  I couldn't have been happier.

It was a little one-bedroom apartment that had everything I needed.  I sublet it for a while and, when the woman whose apartment it was returned from location, she told me that I could have it permanently because she was moving.  Perfect.  So, she moved her things out and I bought some inexpensive things to replace what she'd taken and settled in.  One of the things she either decided not to take or forgot to take was a quote from Jose Quintero that I've kept ever since.  It was taped up on the wall next to the bedroom door.  I found it inspiring then and I still find it inspiring.  Here it is:

"Then a man came out on stage and spoke about magic.  I was fascinated.  I connected with that character and through him for the first time I was introduced to a world of pain wrought so finely it became poetry which is the essence of being.  For the first time I understood why I had to go away from home, where there was so much pain.  And there was the call of something unknown.  I felt I was no longer alone.  When it was over I walked and walked and walked and I knew for the first time the theater was a noble thing to dedicate one's life to.  And if this play could do that for me, it would do it for hundreds of others."  -- Jose Quintero

Stage or film or music, or any of the performing arts, has the ability to reach one's soul.  To help us understand parts of ourselves, to release parts of ourselves, to inspire us, to change us, to teach us, and to open our horizons.  We can all remember films or performances we've seen, or songs we've heard, that have touched us and moved us deeply.  And, even those films or performances that are purely for light entertainment can lift us up and give us joy while we experience them.  The arts are a transportive medium.  They can take us into a different reality and show us things we've never seen before.  They can touch us deep within our being and change us in ways that nothing else can.

Teachers have been telling stories to their students for all of human history.  Stories were passed down verbally before we ever were able to write them.  There have always been traveling bards and companies of actors bringing the excitement of performance to the public.  And, performance art has been used as political protest and satire and a means of cultural change as well.  It's often easier to introduce new ideas and concepts through performance then any other way.  It's not as confrontational a medium as journalism or news reporting.  An audience is in a more receptive place when watching a performance than they might be when watching news or reading journalism.  Performance captures us on many levels...sight, sound, feeling.  It creates an atmosphere and takes us out of our everyday world and everyday stimulus.  We're more open to new things when we travel because we're out of our everyday comfort zone, and performance art opens us to new things in the same way, by transporting us out of our normal environment.

I always saw working in the film industry as sacred service.  The set was my sacred space.  I remember a story I heard Marianne Williamson tell years ago about a time when she was working as a cocktail waitress in a bar.  To her the bar was her church, her ministry, but she had the epiphany one night that everyone else there thought of it as just a bar.  I know not everyone working on a movie set thinks of it as a sacred place, but I did.  Although, I tend to think of anywhere I am as sacred space, and anything I'm doing as sacred service.  It's just the way I look at the world.

Success in the world of performance and performance art also comes with great responsibility, because what one chooses to put out into the world has consequences and impact.  What is the focus of your work?  It can empower or it can diminish.  It can open the heart and bring love and compassion, or it can ignite feelings of hatred and separation.  It can encourage people to grow and move forward, or it can convince them to stay stuck in the past.  It can incite or it can calm.

For any of us who have the privilege of putting our work out into the world to be received by others, there is power and there is responsibility.  It is an expression of our soul and there is consequence to what we do.  We can lift up or we can tear down.  We can build or we can destroy.  We can shine a light or we can perpetuate the darkness.  There's always a choice in what we put out as well as a motivation behind it.  And, as with anything else we do, if it's not coming from a sacred place within us, we have the ability to do great harm.

I would encourage everyone, even if you don't currently consider your work a sacred act, to consider how it would change if you did.  If your workplace were a sacred space, how would it change the way you treat those around you?  How might you do your work differently?  What is your work in service to?  How does it impact the world as a whole?  How do you feel spending your time doing it?  Is there something else you'd rather be doing or contributing?  We spend most of our lives working at something, and it's a shame to think of all that time as being separate from what we think of as sacred.  Our lives are not a lot of disconnected sections, they are all of a whole.  Our work is sacred, no matter what we do.  It is our spiritual practice.  It's not just a paycheck, it's so much more.

Everything we do matters.  I hope what you do is sacred to you.  I hope what you do is an expression of your soul.  I hope what you do makes you happy and leaves you feeling fulfilled.  I hope you use your talents and influence to uplift and empower everyone.  I hope you understand the responsibility you carry and the impact of your actions.  And, that what you do, as Jose Quintero says, "...is a noble thing to dedicate one's life to."   

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Unbinding of Past Structures

Structure is a tough thing to let go of.  We're surrounded by a matrix of structures.  When we wake up.  When we go to sleep.  When we eat.  When we pay bills.  When we work.  When we get paid.  And, as I read that back to myself, I realize it's just the "whens," and there are the "hows" and the "wheres" and a lot of other structures and strictures by which we live our lives.

I recently retired and I'm going through an adjustment to a lack of structure.  And, as much as we all look forward to freedom, it's definitely an adjustment when most of the structure you've been used to suddenly goes away.  My sleep patterns have been all over the place.  I eat when I'm hungry, which has turned out to be at no particular time on any given day.  I'm used to getting a lot done and feeling the pressure of limited time off in which to do it, but now time stretches out in front of me with no limits.  There's a lot I want to do.  There's a lot I've been waiting many years to have the time to do.  But, after working so hard for so long, my being also wants to just put everything on pause.

I'm realizing that there's a certain surrender into the flow of Life that I need to make in order to allow the structures of the past to fall away and to really sink into the freedom I now have.  I don't have to push myself to do things anymore.  I can do them as the energy is there to do them.  There are no deadlines or limits on things other than what I impose.  My time and my commitments are wide open.  And, I'll be in better service to the things I want to do if I'm not pushing myself to do them.  That's the old way.  The new way is to wake up and see what I'm drawn to on the day and let the day take me.  The new way is to enjoy my days, not to push myself through them.

I have enormous will.  I can will myself through just about anything, and have.  Tired?  Me?  Nooooo.  Sure, everything's okay.  Everything's fine.  Do I have time to do that?  Sure.  I've only recently gotten better at having boundaries.  And, not only having boundaries, but holding them.  And now, it's less about boundaries and more about letting go.  In order to live the life I have now in the best way, I have to stop trying to impose old structures onto it.  I need to let it show me what it wants to be.  I need to listen and tune in and be with my energy and the energy of Life.  I need to relax into allowing Life to be what it is, instead of trying to make it into something.  And, if you'd have said these things to me before, I'd have told you that's what I was doing.  But, that's so NOT what I've been doing.  And, that's the beauty of Life, you don't know until you're really faced with something how and what you'll do.

Relaxing, even though you think it would be, is not necessarily easy.  There's a lot of letting go needed in order to really relax.  You run on a certain track for decades, and then suddenly you're on a different track that requires new things from you.  And, because I always had so many things I wanted to do when I was working, I wanted to just dive into them once I retired.  But, what I'm realizing is that I need to allow myself a period of adjustment so that my energy can align to my new freedom and lack of structure.  And, that letting that process happen will affect how well and with how much energy I'm able to do all the things I want to do.

The other thing I'm realizing is that some of the things I want to do now actually require me to be a different person from who I've been in my old working life.  They require that I see myself differently and they require a different skill set and frame of mind.  To try to push myself too quickly into the new is to get ahead of myself.  And, pushing myself is a habit I need to let go of.  I recently started watching Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday program.  Last week was the first of two episodes with Iyanla Vanzant.  She told of a time when she wanted Oprah to produce a show for her, but then explained how she wasn't able to receive it at that time.  She had to go and do a show for another network and producer before she was able to grow into herself enough to come back and do a show on Oprah's network.  There are things I want to do that I'm not ready to do at this time.  There are parts of me that haven't birthed themselves yet.  I have more growing to do in order to be who I need to be to do what I want to do.  And, even though it might seem counter intuitive, in order to grow into who I need to be, I need to let go and surrender into what Life is and who I am right now.

My old way would be to push myself to learn new things that my mind would tell me were applicable to what I want to do.  Or, I'd push myself to talk to people or put myself forward into the arena where I'd like to be...fake it 'til you make it.  But, that's the old way.  The new way is to allow myself to open into the life I want.  The new way is to be with the now so it can show me what needs to happen or be addressed in order to get me where I want to go.  If I can let go of imposing what my ego thinks needs to happen onto my life, then my Life can show me what needs to happen.  Things show up.  People show up.  And, by letting go, I stop operating out of my maleness, which is a part of me that has been highly developed through the many years I've spent working in the world; and, I move into my femaleness, which is a part of me that's so happy to come to the fore.  It's very female to hold the vision of what's wanted and then allow Life to fill the void.  It's also more fun and requires a whole lot less effort.  Sooooo much better.

You don't have to retire to live life organically and allow it to reveal itself to you.  We can all surrender into Life at any moment.  We can give ourselves over to the rhythm of Life whenever we want.  We can listen more deeply.  We can pay attention to what things feel like.  We can follow the energy of things.  We can take a pause, take a breath, take a moment, do the unexpected.  We can let go and relax.  We can take the pressure off.  Western society has become out of balance.  We've turned into a society of workaholics.  We work too many hours a day.  We don't enjoy ourselves enough, or spend enough time with our families and friends.  We look at other countries and societies that work less and envy them.  But, we can shift our priorities to embody the values we envy.

It isn't about life being short and the need to make the most of it.  That's also an old way.  I really think life is as long as we want it to be, and that it's unlimited in scope.  But, it's more about the quality of life, where we want to put our focus.  We can push and strive and effort; or, we can relax and surrender and enjoy.  We can impose structure and order onto life, or we can let life reveal to us what it is and then respond to it.  I'm in the process of letting go.  I'm in the process of surrendering.  I'm learning a new way.  I'm allowing the person I really am, at the core of my being, to reveal itself to me.  I'm getting to know myself without all the structures from the past imposed over me.  I'm transforming and growing into someone I have yet to become.  I'm very excited about who I am, and very excited to meet me.  And, I'm very excited to have the brakes come off.  My greater-yet-to-be is just starting to feel like it's safe enough to poke her head out from the depths of my being and let me know she's there.  Finally.  Thank goodness.  It's about time.   

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 and the Practice of Tolerance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmodVun16Q4&feature=youtu.be

The above is a link to possibly the worst film ever made.  Just my opinion.  But, it is the film that supposedly caused the uproar in Cairo today that resulted in the storming of the U.S. Embassy there.  The demonstrators were protesting at the U.S. Embassy because their Mullahs told them to after seeing clips from the movie the link above will take you to on YouTube.  It's titled "Muhammad Movie Trailer" in case the link doesn't work.

It's difficult to understand why people could get so upset over a movie trailer, especially such a bad one.  But, in the movie in question, Muhammad is portrayed by an actor, and that is against Islamic law.  No image or portrayal of Muhammad is allowed.  It's blasphemous.  And so, the uproar.  But, not just an uproar over a movie, an uproar against the U.S. for being anti-Islamic.  The film was supposedly made by some Egyptian-American Coptic Christians.  I'm not sure why a protest of the film escalated into an attack against the U.S. in general, but it did.

I also don't understand why there is such outrage at the portrayal of Muhammad.  Since it was non-Muslims who made the movie, it isn't against their religion to portray Muhammad.  But, this is then the problem with people who expect everyone to follow their dogma and their rules.  What I believe, you must believe.  What I prohibit, you must prohibit.  What I consider blasphemous, you must recognize as blasphemous.  Expecting others to follow your dogma and your rules will always cause problems.

Tolerance is described in the dictionary as "allowing the existence, occurrence or practice of something you don't necessarily agree with."  This would include other religious beliefs and practices.  Why is the practice of tolerance so difficult?  Why is what someone else believes or doesn't believe so frightening?...especially if the opposing or differing belief isn't hurting anyone.  The harm is in trying to restrict belief, or in imposing belief onto another, or in punishing another for a differing belief system.  Live and let live, and do no harm.

I also find it difficult to understand how people react so strongly against something just because they're told to.  Have all the people who protested the movie that portrays Muhammad seen the movie?  I doubt it.  Have all the Mullahs who told the people to protest the anti-Islamic images in the movie seen the movie?  I doubt it.  The idea of what was considered a trespass was enough to incite a crowd of approximately two thousand people to storm the U.S. Embassy, which had nothing to do with the offending movie.  Huh?

But, what it shows us is that anti-U.S. sentiment in the Islamic world is very close to the surface.  The fact that today was the anniversary of 9/11 most certainly played into the protest that was staged in Cairo.  Our country definitely has its share of racists and bigots, but the majority of people in the U.S. are not racist or anti-Islamic.  And, these types of protests, such as what happened in Cairo today with the storming of the U.S. Embassy, do nothing to further understanding and tolerance between differing cultures and people of differing religious beliefs.

If the people who protested the film by storming the U.S. Embassy think that the film is representative of all U.S. citizens, then they have a very large gap in understanding what freedom of speech means and how it works.  The protesters said that they didn't believe this was a matter of freedom of speech.  They said it was about an insult to Muhammad and Islam.  Well, freedom of speech often manifests itself as what could be taken as an insult.  An insult, mind you, not slander or libel.  Freedom of speech supports differing opinions.  Freedom of speech is about being able to put your ideas and opinions forward without fear of retribution.  Our forefathers fought for religious freedom, freedom of speech, and separation of church and state.  In our culture, these freedoms are sacred.

Our Western culture is open to differing opinions and supports debate and discussion in regard to anything and everything.  We might get into some pretty heated conversations while debating or discussing our differences of opinion, but the majority of us are able to disagree peacefully.  At least, I'd like to think that the majority of us can disagree peacefully.  We're taught to question and think for ourselves.  We're taught not to follow along blindly and to make our own decisions.  But, not everyone understands freedom in the way we live it, or the responsibility that comes along with it.

Mob mentality is very destructive and frightening.  The collective emotional frenzy that a mob creates causes people to do things they might not usually do, or wouldn't normally consider themselves capable of doing.  The demonstration in Cairo today might not have started out as emotionally charged as it ended up.  Most of the people in the crowd might not have been as fired up as a few very active and vocal people were, but got caught up in the moment.  This is the danger of the mob.  The energy and emotions of a few can ignite the group and then people get pulled into it.  The lucky thing today is that no one got hurt and no physical damage was done to the property.  The worst that happened was that a U.S. flag was taken down, stolen and burned; and, a black Islamic flag was put up in its place.  That was symbolically damaging, but no one was actually harmed.

The truth is that the majority of Muslims are not extremists, and the majority of U.S. citizens are not anti-Islamic.  But, these types of events, such as the one in Cairo today, raise questions in the minds of ignorant and fearful people.  The ignorant and fearful people who perpetrated the event, trigger a reaction in the minds of the ignorant and fearful people who witnessed it.  How different things would have been if the Mullahs would have encouraged tolerance over a badly made movie instead of inciting a protest.  Yes, the movie violated Islamic law, but the people who made it weren't Muslims.

We're a global society at this point.  Our transportation and communication continue to make the world a smaller and smaller place.  It's important that we strive to accept our differences and various cultures and belief systems, and learn to tolerate each other.  Believe what you want to believe, and as long as it doesn't restrict or harm others, then go for it.  Debate, discuss, converse, convert, disagree, agree, argue...but, ultimately, allow everyone the freedom of their beliefs and practices.  You want to make a controversial movie, go ahead.  I don't have to agree with it or watch it.  But, you certainly have the right to make it and put it out there.

I'm endlessly grateful to be a U.S. citizen and live in a country where our freedoms are established and protected by our Constitution.  And, I hope people who aren't used to having the freedom we have are able to understand it and accept it for themselves as quickly as possible.  The entire world is expanded as more and more people grow into freedom and responsibility.  The entire world benefits from acceptance and tolerance.  Be and let be.  Live and let live.  And, do no harm. 

 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Walking the Labyrinth

I walked the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth today.  Well, not the actual Chartres Cathedral labyrinth which is in Chartres outside Paris, France, but a copy of it that exists in Albuquerque in back of the New Life Presbyterian Church off Eubank in the northeast heights.  It has eleven-circuits and measures about sixty feet in diameter.  It took about sixty tons of material to create it:  crushed rock for the base and actual rocks to line and denote the circuits.  It was a lot of work for a lot of people to measure it out using sacred geometry and then lay the rock.  It's a gift to the community and it's open to the public from dawn to dusk everyday.  The only reason one wouldn't walk it at night is because it isn't lit.  I find it an unusual addition to a church, and I'm very grateful that it's there.

Today was an amazingly beautiful day in Albuquerque.  I had been to my dentist's office, which isn't far from the labyrinth, and I wanted to be outside.  It's cool enough now to walk the labyrinth in the heat of the day without melting in the process.  The breeze caressed me.  The sky was blue with white cumulus clouds pushing up from behind the Sandia Mountains.  It was quiet for the most part with birds flying overhead and calling out to each other.  Far in the distance I could hear a siren wailing.  An airplane was taking off from the airport.  The traffic noise from the street reached me.  But, these sounds fell into the background as I walked the circuits of the labyrinth.

A labyrinth is not a maze.  The purpose of the labyrinth is not to get lost, but to go inside oneself.  It's a walking meditation.  By starting at the beginning and continuously walking the circuits one reaches the center, which, in a Chartres version, is a flower of life with six petals.  One usually has an intention for walking the labyrinth, but it isn't necessary.  It could just be walked to let go and give yourself over to the walking.  It's very relaxing.  You don't have to think about where you're going or how you're going to get there.  The circuits take you in and then back out again and no thought is necessary.  You give yourself over to the labyrinth and let it have its way with you.  Whatever experience you have is a good one.

As I walked into the center of the labyrinth, mental chatter fell away and my internal landscape opened up.  I prayed as I walked in the beginning and then just let the emptiness fill me.  Because the circuits are lined with rocks that sometimes move out of their places, I repaired the circuits as I went.  It's all part of the meditation.  I noticed that people have placed small objects along the path and, in the center, a small circle of rocks has been put around a tall candle.  These things weren't there the last time I walked the labyrinth.  Things have also been placed around the labyrinth on the outside of the circuits...crucifixes, a fat smiling Buddha statue, a Kokopelli.  I become sensitive to everything I can see and hear and feel.  My surroundings become more alive.  Or, is it me who's become more alive?

Because of the way the circuits wind around, I don't know I'm finished with the walk until I'm on the very last leg, right before the end.  I walk it very slowly because I'm not quite ready to be done.  As I exit the labyrinth, I turn back around to thank it for being there and for everyone who had anything to do with its creation.  You can walk the labyrinth with other people, but every time I've been to this one, I've had the pleasure of walking it all by myself.

At one point, I was going to construct a labyrinth in my backyard.  But, my backyard isn't really big enough to accommodate one and, once I found the one at the New Life Presbyterian Church, I didn't need to try to make it work because I had one.  Sitting in meditation for me is not an easy task.  It doesn't seem to work for me as many times as I've tried.  But, the walking meditation of a labyrinth is perfect.  Somehow the walking and the movement help my mind to let go.

If you look online there's a worldwide Labyrinth Locator.  You'd be surprised how many labyrinths there are and where they are.  You can also buy small finger-sized ones and "walk" them that way.  I have a small finger-sized version of the Chartres labyrinth that I keep on my desk.  I would highly recommend walking a labyrinth if you get the chance, or feel inclined to look for one.  Even for those of you who enjoy sitting in meditation, I think the experience of the walking meditation of the labyrinth would be grounding as well as opening.

Whatever we do to bring ourselves into a space of quiet communion with Life is a good thing.  And, sitting in meditation is only one way.  There are many ways to come into the now and be present.  Anything that brings you totally into the moment and opens you to the flow of Life all around you is a way.  If you've never walked a labyrinth, I hope you give yourself the pleasure of it at some point.  But, whether you do, or whether you don't, I hope you have your own way to bring yourself into the vastness of the now.       

  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Solar Flares, Plungers of Light

We are in the midst of experiencing our largest solar flare (CME - Coronal Mass Ejection) ever.  CME's travel at about one million miles an hour.  The earth is close to 93 million miles from the sun.   The full impact of this most recent CME hit the earth last night.  I don't know how you experienced it, but I felt it very strongly, and will for some time to come.

I didn't notice the disruption of any household electronics, although did have a bit of cell phone difficulty.  But, the thing I noticed the most was my emotional rawness and sensitivity.  These huge infusions of light to our planet require huge openings within us in order to receive and integrate them.  These light infusions are literally changing us down to our DNA.  And, to go through this level of change to the core of our beings can be a bit stressful, to say the least.

I felt anxious and sad and hopeless and despairing.  I cried and prayed and, as President Obama said in his speech last night, felt forced onto my knees because I had no where else to go.  The plunger effect this level of light has on each and every one of us can make us feel crazy, like we're losing our grip on reality.  And, we are.  At least the old reality.  So much of the past gets moved out of us so fast that the effect can be overwhelming.  And, it all streams through our consciousness on its way out.  That doesn't mean that we're necessarily conscious of all of it, but it's still moving through our system and triggering a response and/or a reaction.

I got caught up a bit in what was leaving as it was going last night.  The emotions that were moving were so strong that it was hard not to get pulled into them.  And, I momentarily forgot what was happening and wallowed for a while.  I finally forced myself into bed and managed to sleep, although I had very active dreams for most of the night.  This morning I feel better, and my presence of mind has returned and I'm able to see what was happening.  These purges are not pleasant experiences.  Necessary, yes.  Pleasant, no.

I've always had an overlay of sadness my whole life.  And, I've managed to get into some very hopeless and despairing states of mind.  I'm much better now at not focusing on those emotions when they arise, but they can indeed still arise.  They do still operate within me at times, and have their way with me at times, which is what happened last night.  But, the good thing is that I now come back into consciousness much more quickly than I used to.  I know these things are trying to move out of me, and I know they need to move out of me, and part of what makes it difficult is that they've been operating in me for so long that they're very familiar.  I know them.  They're like old friends.  But, they're destructive old friends.  They're the friends I have to let go of.  They're the things that drag me down.

I've taken more healing classes and had more healing sessions than anyone I know.  I've been to more psychics, heard more channels, and had more channeled sessions than anyone I know.  My journey to "heal" myself has been extensive and widespread and expensive.  I think much of it has helped, but much of it didn't.  I have much more awareness through all I've learned and experienced, but the issues I've been working on are still active, and my body still exhibits the same physical symptoms.  I used to think it was possible to "cure" myself.  I thought it was possible to go in and remove specific energies from the system.  I had a very aggressive idea about what healing was and what it could do.  But, what's changed more than anything through this long journey is my understanding of what healing is and how it's facilitated.  I now understand the level of surrender and acceptance and love that are required.

Cures are possible through energetic healing and do happen.  But, they are less common than one would hope.  It has to do with the receptivity and faith of those of us wanting to be healed; it has to do with the purity and skill of the healer; it has to do more with what we need than what we want.  My healing journey has taken me all over the world, given me many amazing experiences, introduced me to many wonderful people, and shaped my life in ways that have been invaluable and beneficial.  My spiritual path has opened through this healing journey.  And, even though I still exhibit symptoms and have bouts of emotional instability and frailty, I am stronger and more aware on a soul level.  Cures for the outward things have not occurred, but healing for the soul has.  And, through my own pain and discomfort and despair, my heart has opened and compassion and understanding have grown.  And, as difficult as it is sometimes to see physical affliction and emotional trauma as having a silver lining, it is true.

Humanity has historically grown through pain and adversity.  When we are pressed by outward circumstances, we find the strength within.  We've bonded through our pain.  We've identified with our pain.  We've held onto our pain and wrung every last drop from it.  But, that time is at an end.  The reason we're being so pushed by Life to let go of our past issues and limitations, is because they've served us as far as they're going to serve us.  We're in the process of changing our basis of life, and the old ways of pain and adversity are losing their grip.  We're being asked to open into a lighter way of living.  We're being asked to bond through strength and love, not pain.  We're being asked to identify with the purity of our souls and not our outer manifestations of pain.  We're being asked to open into limitless possibilities instead of staying within our old limitations and feelings of inadequacy.

We're in the throes of a process that is birthing us into our greater yet to be.  We're in the throes of a process that is birthing us into the fullness of our Christed selves.  We are being transformed and lifted into the multidimensionality of who we really are.  We're being given the chance to remember who we are as aspects of the One.  And, as that process continues, we will go through some discomfort as we let go of the past and open to the now.  We will forget sometimes what is really happening.  We might lament and gnash our teeth at the difficulty of what is being asked of us.  But, as we emerge from this process, unburdened and free and full of gratitude, we will realize that it's all been worth it.

Each one of us is here on this planet at this time and in these bodies in order to utilize the energies that are present to move ourselves forward as we assist the earth to move forward.  We all volunteered to be here.  We're all here for a reason and because we have something to heal and contribute.  The gift of being here during the end of duality and the beginning of a whole new way of living as our planet ascends herself from the third dimension into the fifth, allowing us to go with her, is beyond anything any of us have ever experienced, and a gift that is impossible to truly comprehend.  We are the galactic guinea pigs.  We're the first collective of humanity to be given this chance.  We're going where no one has gone before.  We're the ones laying the track for those who will follow.  We're the ones opening the door.  We're the ones who will reach back and lift those behind us up.

Such a task is not easy, and we were never told it would be.  But, when we said we'd come and be a part of it, we didn't care.  We just wanted to be here, to participate in the grand experiment.  So, no matter how difficult things get, or how much is required of us, it's important to remember that it's a gift to be here.  It's important to remember that we are trail blazers.  And, it's important to remember that no matter what happens, we will succeed in our missions.  Hang in there.  Be courageous.  Remember why you're here and who you are. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Adaptability

Adaptability is an important quality.  If we're not able to grow and adapt as things change, we will be left behind.  We call people dinosaurs who aren't able to adapt as things change.  And, you remember what happened to the dinosaurs, right?  They died.  Gone.  Not able to adapt.  Charles Darwin said:  "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

Being stubborn and holding on to the old ways doesn't get us anywhere.  Refusal to change and grow will render one irrelevant and take us out of the game.  Railing against the new and innovative instead of embracing it is ultimately self-destructive.  Change is a constant, and to recognize it and go with it keeps one on the crest of the wave.  If we resist the new and fall behind it's much more difficult to catch up.

Change used to happen more slowly and people had more time to get used to it and integrate it.  But, it's happening much more quickly now.  We've had more changes in the last one hundred years than prior history would have ever suggested were possible.  It's a lot to get used to.  And, even though it would be easier if things were moving more slowly, that's not the case.  It's important to be able to respond to the truth of our reality and the speed with which things are changing.  It's important to be able to adapt to our constantly changing technology and culture.

Things are speeding up because the vibratory rate of the planet is being raised.  She is lifting herself out of third dimension and into the fifth dimension, and we are being given the chance to go with her.  But, in order to do that, we have to adapt to the way things are changing, at the speed with which they are changing, and integrate the changes as they're happening.  It requires a surrender into the process.  It requires us to let go of trying to figure it out and just go with it.  There's an acceptance of what is that transcends any kind of sense our minds try to make of it based on past experience and knowledge.  There's a trust required in Life itself and where this process is taking us.

If we constantly struggle with trying to make sense of what's happening in the world at this time of transition, things are more difficult.  If we're able to feel our way through things and let our intuition come to the fore, then Life becomes more easily navigable.  Historically, at least for the last couple of thousand years, we've approached things from a more mental point of view.  But, we're now being asked to let that go and move into a more feeling way of being in the world.  Our mental processes are too slow and too rigid, too structured.  To let logic take the lead isn't going to be the way to get through things the way they're happening now.

We don't know exactly how we're going to be called to adapt to anything until the moment of adaptation arrives, and then we either let go and move forward, or we hold on and stay behind.  Sometimes it's a split second decision.  And, in that split second, the course of our lives is determined.  Will you let go?  Or, will you hold on?  None of us know until we're faced with each individual situation.  You might think today that you would never do something, but then tomorrow that's what's being asked of you.  The thing you thought you wouldn't do is suddenly the thing that's necessary.  We can't approach any day with preset ideas and expectations.  We have to stay open and respond to the truth of each moment as it happens.

Whatever we think we're capable of, we're going to get the chance to push those boundaries and find out that we're capable of so much more.  Whatever we think we're not capable of, we'll get the chance to see ourselves differently and blast through those limitations.  Whatever we believe is true, Life will give us the chance to test and open those beliefs beyond what we thought possible.  Whatever we hold on to will most likely get ripped away.  And, whatever we let go of, will serve to set us free.  The lighter and freer we are, the more easily we'll be able to adapt to whatever comes.

When you get an intuition, follow it, even if it doesn't make sense.  When you have a real knowing about something, pay attention to it, even if it isn't logical.  I've had a lot of people tell me that they feel like getting rid of things right now.  Do it.  Lighten up.  Unburden yourself.  Be more mobile.  Be ready for whatever comes.  Pay attention and adapt.  That's the energy of the moment.  That's what's being required of us...to be adaptable.  Be pliant.  Be fluid.  There's a rhythm to Life.  Listen to it and ride it.

The wheat is being sifted from the chaff.  Will you let go?  Or, will you hold on?  Will you move with what is?  Or, will you stay with what was?  It's up to each and every one of us to make these decisions for ourselves.  We'll be given numerous chances, and there's no judgment attached to whatever we decide to do.  But, our survival on this planet is the thing being decided.  If we're able to tune in and adapt and move with the flow of Life here, we will be able to stay.  But, if not, we'll have to go elsewhere and work out our decisions there.  Wherever we end up will be the best place for us.  Life gives us endless options to have the experiences we want.  Here or somewhere else, Life doesn't care.  No place is better than another, just different.  We get to choose.

Making our choices from a place of conscious awareness would be better than allowing the choice to be made from a place of unconsciousness.  So, we'd do ourselves a favor to be as conscious as we can.  We can ask ourselves where we're holding on and why?  Often, the areas of difficulty in our lives are the areas where we tend to be holding on to old ideas and ways of doing things.  We can look at the areas where we're stuck and ask ourselves what the fear is that keeps us there.  We can come into awareness of our resistance, and ask what is it that we're pushing against.  A lot of the questions that need to be asked are the ones we'd rather not ask because we don't want the answers we know are behind them.  But, we need to ask the questions and come into awareness through the answers in order to move forward and be able to adapt to what is.

Do what you need to do in order to adapt...or, not.  Whatever we do is okay.  And, that's the great thing about this game.  Whatever we choose is a valid choice.  Whatever the consequences of our choices, there is no judgment.  Whether we move forward or stay behind, it's all a learning experience.  Whatever we choose, it helps us to know ourselves more deeply.  It's really about setting ourselves free, to do whatever we feel called to do, to rise or fall by our own decision and choice.  What is your choice?  Where do you want to be?  How free are you willing to be?  How much are you able to let go of?  How adaptable are you?  We'll all be given the chance to find out.      

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Walk in Beauty

The following is by Tony Hoagland, from "Grammar" copyright 1998 and reprinted from "Donkey Gospel" with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota:

"When she walks into the room,
everybody turns:

some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious...
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,

we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets
and clap."

This poem was on page 63 of the May 2004 edition of some magazine that I can no longer identify, but I'd had enough presence of mind to rip the page out and keep it.  I'd put it in an envelope of other things I'd saved over the years, and finally pulled everything out and went through the contents.  That was when I found this gem among a few others.

The line that really struck me was:  "...she is the one today among us most able to bear the idea of her own beauty..."  Wow.  So many of us have trouble seeing and acknowledging our own beauty; our own greatness.  If you asked us what our best qualities were, we might have trouble telling you.  We could go on about out shortcomings, having been reminded of those over and over in our lives; but, the good things, hmmmmm.....that might take some thought.

Blessed are the children whose parents compliment them and reinforce their instincts and talents and inherently good behavior.  Blessed are the children whose parents don't shame them or make them feel inferior or punish them for being themselves.  Blessed are the parents who are able to love and accept their children for who they are without trying to make them into something "more normal" or "more acceptable" or whatever the "more" might be in any particular family or situation.  Blessed are the teachers who teach with love and are able to transmit excitement for learning to their students.

I'm much more able to accept my own beauty and talents at this late stage of life than I was when I was younger.  People noticing me or complimenting me used to make me very uncomfortable.  And, I had ideas about what beauty was and what talent was that somehow didn't include myself.  I've spent my life trying to make myself small and invisible.  I've spent my life hiding my light under a bushel.  I've been endlessly told to be quiet, to go away, to keep my ideas to myself.  But, no more.

Age is a wonderful thing.  As time has passed and I've become older I pay less attention to any and all derogative comments that might be directed my way.  I've grown to know myself more deeply and to have developed an appreciation for my good qualities and talents.  What people want me to do matters less than what I want to do.  What someone else thinks of me matters less than what I think of myself.  My rigid ideas of what constitutes beauty have softened.  I have come to realize that I do indeed have talents.

Everyone is precious.  Everyone is valuable.  Everyone is beautiful.  Everyone deserves appreciation and praise.  Everyone deserves love.  If we valued each other and really saw and recognized each other at a soul level, it wouldn't be so amazing if one among us could bear their own beauty.  We would all see ourselves as beautiful.  We would all walk in beauty.  We would all be confident and light-filled.  We would all realize our unique contribution and be happy to give it.

Each one of us holds the key to a mystery.  Each one of us comes with a gift.  Each one of us has something invaluable to contribute.  Each one of us shines our own special light.  So, don't just bear your beauty, revel in it, express it, share it.  Create your own "perfume of fermenting joy."  There is joy in self acceptance, and that joy is easily shared.  Your joy, your self-acceptance might ignite those same things in someone else who's been struggling.  Your sense of beauty might help someone else realize that they are beautiful, too.

Beauty truly does come from within.  One of the hurdles of our society is that it's so outwardly focused.  We see media images of what society considers beautiful and successful, and if we don't fit within those parameters we consider ourselves lacking.  But, that is not the truth.  Beauty comes in many shapes and sizes, and there are many levels of success, not all of which are measured by how large our bank accounts are or by how many things we own.  It's time to broaden our perspectives beyond the limits of the past.  It's time to look deeper and see beyond the surface of things.

So, let's all "take our burned hands out of our pockets" and reveal ourselves in all our glory to the world.  Let's give our gifts and talents.  Let's appreciate ourselves.  Let's walk in beauty all the days of our lives.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Autumn

Fall has definitely come to Albuquerque.  It's not that the temperatures have changed that much.  It's still very hot.  But, the quality of light has changed.  The earth has rotated enough that the sun is not as much over head as it was.  The light has a lower angle to it and it's a bit more diffused.  The shadows are a bit longer.  And, there's more breeze now and more clouds.

I used to think noticing fall in this way was something I did in California.  I thought that in other places, with more distinct weather patterns, fall would be more obvious.  The weather would cool.  The leaves would turn.  I thought it was a subtle change in California because the weather changes are not as marked as they are in places farther north and farther east.  But, it isn't just a California thing.  And, it happens suddenly.  One morning I'll wake up and realize it's fall.  It's like the planet made a larger shift of position over night.  But, it's like that with a lot of things.  It's one way, until it isn't.  It's fine, until it isn't.  And, it's not a gradual kind of change, it happens quickly.  It's like I looked away for a second and when I looked back, everything had changed.  It's summer, until it isn't.

I love the autumn.  It's my most favorite season.  There's a quiet melancholy to it.  The colors are earthy and rich.  The air is fresh.  It signals change and transformation.  Harvest time.  Roasting chilis.  My birthday.  The beginning of another personal year.  The outward activity of summer turns inward.  Sweaters come out.  I have to replace my flip flops with shoes.  Long pants replace shorts and crops.  The days get shorter.

The light from the sun affects us in so many ways.  We're tied into it no matter how much electricity we produce and how many artificial sources of light there are.  In the fall things start to soften from the glare of summer.  Winter drives us inward as it gets darker and colder.  And, spring awaken us with light's return as days get longer and temperatures start to climb.  If we don't get enough sunlight, we become less healthy.  Without enough sunlight, we get emotionally depressed.  The sun carries hope with it.  It not only lightens our atmosphere, but it lightens our mood.  It's not just visual, it affects us cellularly on every level.  It affects our glands and the way our bodies work.  It affects the way we think and how we feel.

We just had the largest solar flare from the sun we've ever had.  Our planet is being infused with huge amounts of light.  Our bodies are struggling to open fast enough to receive these infusions of light without going into overload.  I feel it by having difficulty sleeping.  I feel an underlying anxiety that's not really attached to anything in particular.  I feel a vulnerability and a rawness.  I'm more sensitive and emotional.  As I'm able to integrate each new infusion of light, the symptoms dissipate and I'm lulled into thinking things have returned to "normal," which is not the case.  As we integrate each new wave of light, things are changed forever.  We get to a place where things feel normal as we equalize, but each new blast of light moves us forever forward.

The sun has always been revered and its essential contribution has been worshipped.  There have been civilizations that built religions around it.  Pharaoh Akhenaten used a sun disk as the only physical symbol of his religion of the One God...a religion built around light, with the concept that everything is light.  No wonder the sun was its symbol.  Without the sun there is no life.  Without photosynthesis, there is no oxygen.  We could artificially create an atmosphere where life could be sustained, but there would be no natural life.

Each season requires an embrace, a surrender into it and what it brings.  And, each season lays gifts at our feet.  I hope you open to and enjoy the autumn season and all of its gifts.  I hope you revel in the change and relax into it.  I hope you are able to flow with it and allow it to take you where it will.  I find the fall exciting and full of renewal.  It energizes me and gives me new direction.  As ready for summer as I was when it began, I'm ready for fall now.  I hope you're as ready for it as I am and that you enjoy every minute of it while it's here.  I hope you're able to fully surrender into it and to receive all the gifts it has to offer; and, that you feel enriched by it on every level.  The sun and the seasons are part of who we are, and we become more ourselves as we flow with them.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and The Church

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, former bishop of Milan and a Papal candidate, died on Friday at the age of 85.  He is the type of person who gave one hope for the Catholic church.  His was a voice of dissension within the church, and accused the church of being "200 years out of date" in his final interview.

The fact that someone of his stature could speak out to the level he did, and that his comments made their way into mainstream media outlets, is amazing and wonderful.  And, he was well-loved, both within the church and by parishioners alike.  He thought the church to be aged and empty and burdened by too much bureaucracy.  He advocated the use of condoms and allowing people in the church to remarry for reasons other than losing a spouse through death.

He was very vocal about what needed to be done in order not to lose the future generations of church members.  The fact that the church continued to forbid divorce and the use of contraceptives were things he fought to change.  He was embarrassed and appalled by the pedophilia within the church and the church's lack of responsibility in regard to it.

He understood that life was changing and that the church needed to open up to new kinds of families and new perspectives in order to stay current and be relevant in the world.  The archaic directives of the church were only serving to alienate its parishioners.  He was a liberal and courageous voice within the church and his final message to Pope Benedict, shortly before his death, was to initiate change within the church immediately, saying,  "Why don't we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?"

The church has been of great benefit and given much comfort and assistance to people worldwide.  But, as we move forward as a collective and embrace new perspectives and ways of thinking, new practices of behavior and new values, the church need to keep up.  If the church isn't able to meet people within the current time frame, and take into account the current ways of thinking, then the people have outgrown its usefulness.  The church has to grow with the times.  It has to be relevant to the issues people are dealing with in the moment.

To not allow divorce and the use of contraceptives makes sinners of a large percentage of its members.  These are not things put forth by Jesus, they were put forth by lesser men in order to control rather than empower their followers.  Celibacy among the priesthood was also not put forth by Jesus.  Jesus never set about to create a priesthood in the beginning, that was started by Peter and Paul of Tarsus.  If Priests were allowed to marry and have children, they would be much more able to help those in their flock.  And, they would be less apt to rape children in order to have sex.

The fact that the sexual issues of Peter and Paul of Tarsus have been perpetrated upon the church and all of its followers for millennia is criminal in and of itself.  Jesus wasn't celebate.  He was married, had multiple sexual partners, and fathered many children.  These facts have been suppressed by the church in order to further their own twisted agenda of sexual repression and limitation.  Jesus was a tantric master and looked upon sexual union as a pathway to enlightenment.  Sexual communion was a sacred act and empowering to those who practiced it as such.  The church didn't want empowered members who formed their own connections with the Divine, it wanted controlled followers.  So much spiritual and sacred knowledge has been hidden in service to the agenda of keeping its members under control.

The Vatican library, as well as the library at St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai, have the most complete works of sacred documents in existence, and yet they are largely unavailable unless one is a member of the church hierarchy.  The reason the documents are not available to the rest of us is because they contain information that would run in direct opposition to the tenets put forth by the church.  And, God forbid--LOL, sorry, I had to laugh at that--anyone should bring up anything that challenges the church.

The church is afraid because those at the top know that it manipulated the truth from the beginning and that it has been perpetrating lies ever since in order to exercise control over its kingdom.  What are they so afraid of?  No one grows by hanging on to the past, including the church.  It has to be a living, breathing, growing, adapting entity in order to be able to continue.  People need to be able to discuss and question their beliefs in order for them to remain applicable to an ever-changing reality.  Nothing is stagnant.  And, if the church stays stagnant as everything around it grows, it forces itself into irrelevancy.

Because the church has refused to grow and change through the years, people have turned to alternative sources of spirituality and connection.  The great thing about this is that it's taught people that each and every one of us is able to connect to the Divine individually.  We don't need priests and intermediaries in order to commune with Life.  Personal communication with the Divine and gnosis are available to all, and more valid and applicable to life than what one might receive through the church.  By the church making itself irrelevant, it's pushed people to be more empowered within themselves.

I think whatever helps us should be utilized, church included.  If someone gains value from organized religion and gains comfort from its structure, then by all means continue with it.  But, for the rest of us, for whom the church no longer holds any gravity, we're doing it for ourselves.  We're forging personal connections with the Divine.  We're becoming empowered as we realize things the church never told us about how Life works.  We're openly questioning what we've historically been taught by religious institutions.  We're more interested in truth than doctrine.  And, we want something that helps us to live our lives better, and freer from restriction and limitation.

Some things make us bigger, and some things make us smaller.  I think that's an important distinction, and a barometer for what to pay attention to.  If you feel empowered and expanded by going to church, then absolutely go.  But, if you feel empowered and expanded by other things, then pursue those things.  Pursue thoughts and ideas that make you bigger.

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini lived bigger than most within the church structure.  He questioned and he challenged and he wanted to grow and expand with Life itself.  I'm sure there are others like him in the church who will now step forward to fill the void he left by moving on to the next dimension of Life.  I hope there are, and that they are courageous, and that their voices are heard and heeded.  But, it is ultimately up to each of us to find that which expands us and helps us to grow.  It is up to each of us to find our own connection with the Divine.  It is up to each of us to find that which sets our souls on fire and makes our hearts sing.  So, sing loud and clear.  Sing like there's no one listening.  Sing a new song today.  And, sing in gratitude to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and those like him while you're at it.  Bless you on your way, Carlo.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Relationship

The following is a quote from the book "No Man Is An Island" by Thomas Merton:  "The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not twist them to fit our own image.  Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."

This is an interesting quote, and I understand what its writer is trying to say, but the words don't fully convey the meaning I think he had in mind.

"The beginning of love..."  I like this because it clearly states that whatever has come before was not love, because it would have been conditioned and have come with an agenda.

"...is to let those we love be perfectly themselves,"  Yes...and, this can be a hard one.  To let someone be who they are and love them for it, or in spite of it, can be difficult.

"...and not twist them to fit our own image."  It's a rare person who doesn't do this.  We're always trying to tell others how to do any number of things, or how to be, or what they should or shouldn't do.  Or, using the horrifying, "If you loved me, you'd..."  Or, the old, "I love you, but..."

"Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."  The problem with this part of the quote is that everyone is a reflection of ourselves, whether they do what we want or not; whether we've been able to affect their behavior or not.  If we've managed to influence someone enough that they've become what we want them to be, we might enjoy their compliance, but it makes them no more a reflection of us than if they'd ignored us completely.

We all hold all the aspects of humanity.  Some of us exhibit certain of those characteristics more strongly than others, but we have them all.  The purpose of relationship is for us to be reflections of each other so we can see on the outside what we're often not able to see on the inside.  We often don't want to own a particular aspect of ourselves and so deny its existence, but by our relationships showing up with those who embody our denied aspect/s, we are being shown what we need to address within ourselves, the places we need to heal and love free.

If someone has a quality that annoys us in relationship, we would do best to look at that quality in ourselves.  If it annoys us in the other, then it most likely annoys us even more within ourselves.  But, like it or not, it's there.  If we can let go of our denial and resistance to it, and look at it and give it its space, we will learn more about ourselves and why we are the way we are.  What is that annoying aspect?  Why is it an issue?  Are we willing to love that part of ourselves yet?  When we're finally able to love ourselves, even though we have an issue with that aspect, we will be able to accept that it's there and it will start to lose its affect on us, we'll be less afraid of it, we'll relax in regard to it, and it will annoy us less and less in those around us as it dissipates within.

Letting someone be perfectly who they are and accepting them for that without trying to burnish the image is indeed the beginning of love.  When we're able to really see someone in the truth of who they are, it's hard not to love them.  They become endearing, our hearts open, and we feel joy in their presence.  Losing the filters through which we see others is an important part of healing ourselves.  To see others without illusion, to take them for who they are, releases all expectation and agenda.  We allow them to reveal themselves and enjoy the unfolding mystery of their being.  We might like what we find, we might not, but at least it's real.

What is it that draws us to another person?  Sometimes it's because we see something in them that we like in ourselves.  Sometimes it's because we see something in them that we wish were stronger within ourselves.  We love them for the thing they exhibit that we want.  We want to be around them because maybe it will rub off onto us.  By being around them we are somehow elevated.  Or, by being around them, we can trick ourselves into thinking that we're what we want to be.  But, when we get into relationship with someone in order to get something from them, it's doomed to failure.

Relationship based on truth is the thing for which we all strive.  To see someone clearly; no veils or illusions.  To love them for who they are without trying to change them into some distorted image we have of who we think they should be.  To just see them...warts and all...and love them.  To not judge them for their shortcomings, but to have faith that they're doing the best they can and will change and grow as they are able in their own way.  To love someone for who they are, not who we think they could be, or who we think they'll become.

Loving someone for who they are doesn't mean we have to be with them.  We might decide we are better off not being with someone who we see clearly.  But, we won't need to make them wrong in order to not be with them.  They are who they are.  It's not what we want to be with, but that doesn't make it wrong.  The fact that we don't want to be with them doesn't make them less.  We see them, we accept them, we make a decision.  It's not about being wrong or assigning blame.

We can love people and know we are not the best for us to be with them.  We can love them for who they are and move on.  We can be grateful for them and hold them in love.  We can let them go because it's the thing that benefits us the most.  We don't have to feel sorry for them.  We don't have to fix them.  We don't have to be responsible for them.  We respect them enough to know that they're fine the way they are and are able to be responsible for themselves.

I have not personally achieved this ideal of love and relationship yet, but I do strive for it.  Every relationship shows me more about where my veils, illusions and denials reside.  Every attempt brings truth that much closer.  Every mistake teaches me.  Every revelation helps me to know myself better.  And, as I know myself better and accept who I am, I'm able to love myself more.  And, as I'm able to love and accept myself, I'm able to love and accept others.  As I can see the truth of myself, I'm able to see the truth of others.  And, the beautiful thing is, that Life just keeps bring us people with whom we are able to fall more and more deeply into love.

When we are able to fall in love with ourselves, we'll be able to love everything and everyone else.