Notes on the Journey

Friday, December 11, 2015

Inhabiting Our Creation

I have signed the rental contract for my apartment in Uzes, France.  I have completed my pile of paperwork to submit to the French Consulate in Los Angeles for my long-stay visa.  I've done everything I can do at this point in terms of paperwork that will allow me to transport my cat, Sophie, internationally.  I've made my airline reservations and bought my one-way ticket to France.  And, I continue packing and vacating my life in San Diego.

Moving from one country to another is a complicated business.  As with all things, one doesn't really know what one is getting into until one starts on the path.  I have days of great accomplishment and I have days of feeling lost where I wander around and get nothing done.  But, on those days when nothing seemingly gets done, I think what's really happening is a lot of processing and integration.  A good deal might be happening in the world of form, but it's internally where things are really rearranging themselves.

We feel a pull to something, and we move toward the pull, but in order for us to open to a new way of being and living, we have to change within ourselves.  There is an alchemy that takes place within us that makes us able to move into and embrace the new life.  We have to become the person who is able to live the life we see for ourselves.  And, this type of alchemy takes a lot of energy.  As we walk forward physically, creating the change in form, we are being transformed internally so that we are able to vibrate in resonance with the new choices we're making.

As we move forward we're confronted by new ideas, new situations, new ways of doing things, new ways of perceiving things, new people, new places, new language, new culture.  It's all this newness that keeps things interesting and draws new Life through us.  It is the newness that expands us and grows us.  But, it is also the newness that tires us and overwhelms us and pushes us to our limits and beyond.  Some days I just want peace and comfort.  Some days I don't have the energy to greet the newness of things.  Some days I want to hide and pull the bed covers over my head.

I still have a lot of steps to walk through to get from San Diego to Uzes, France.  And, I do better when I focus on what's in front of me and do things as they show up to be done.  It's when I look ahead at everything yet to be done and all of what remains that it can seem overwhelming.  But, no matter what it is we ever do, it's done in bits and pieces, step by step.  I tend to get ahead of myself.  So, I need to constantly remind myself to stay present and to breathe.  I also need to remind myself how amazingly well things are going.  When I get ahead of myself I tend to fret when there's no real need to.  When I'm able to stay present, I calm down.

I'm excited and I'm terrified by the big changes I've put into motion for myself.  Big changes bring up big insecurities.  But, it's in walking through the big changes that we quiet the noise of the insecurities and find confidence in ourselves.  Change isn't easy.  When Life calls us to something, it's usually not because it's easy or safe or comfortable; it's because it's challenging and expanding and it's what grows us.  And, as I walk forward, I feel the new Life opening to me.  People show up to tell me things I need to know and help me along the way.  Synchronous things occur and events take place and the puzzle pieces fit together, because this is the way Life works when we inhabit our creation.

When we live and breathe and inhabit our creations, we grow into them and they form themselves around us.  This is how we draw Life through us.  This is how Life increases itself.  This is how the path appears out of nothing.  This is the dance.  It's a never-ending spiral, like a DNA strand.  Life, everlasting.  Life, constantly drawing us forward.  Life, in motion.  Life.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

All Is Well

The theme for this month's astrology forecast from The Power Path by Lena Stevens is "Transition."  And, I'm smack dab in the middle of huge transition.  I guess that makes me right on time, not that it feels like that.  It feels like chaotic free-fall.  But, I keep reminding myself that if I step on the path, the path will appear.  Yes.  Trust and let Life take the wheel.

My transition feels like a high-wire act with no net.  I have to let go of everything on one side of it in order to allow in what's on the other side.  No matter how trusting one thinks they are, this type of situation brings up all of one's insecurities.  I know to give my insecurities their space and let them talk away while not buying into them, but in the actual living of it, it's not always easy to do.  So, it's a bit of a see-saw emotionally.

Our egos are set up to be concerned for our survival.  And, homelessness, even transitional homelessness, gets the ego all stirred up.  Open-ended situations of blind trust are not where the ego shines.  But, in spite of all the warnings my ego is sending me, both through my own mental spinning as well as being reflected through people in my world, I continue forward into unknown territory.  The knowing that is emerging deep within me is that All Is Well.  I keep saying that to myself.  And, it's true, even though I have no idea what it's all going to look like.

I've got a lot of balls in the air right now, and it's going to take a few more days for the important ones to settle into the palm of my hand.  Time constraints keep cropping up around all of the elements involved.  But, so far, All Is Well.  I have a place to stay during the time I have to be out of my apartment in San Diego and when I leave for France, which, until yesterday, I didn't have.  All the things I own are literally flying out the door to all the craigslist angels who are coming to buy them.  Paperwork and insurance issues and health coverage issues and cat transport issues are coming together.  It's my final resting place in France that's still not completely settled, but the apartment situation is in process as I write this.

The place I thought I was going to live in near Montelimar did not end up being the right place for me once I saw it.  It was too far out in the country and too isolated for someone who wants to be able to walk to French classes and interact with French people in a village setting everyday.  I've made friends in Uzes, which was starting to feel like home when I left to come back to San Diego, and it was clear to me that that is where my heart is.

So, Transition, yes, with a capital "T."  Trust, yes, with a capital "T."  No matter what's happening, focus on what I'm creating, do not get distracted by the small stuff, and keep walking.  And, always remember that All Is Well.  Thank you, thank you, thank you...my mantra.   

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Still Riding the Wave

When I answer Life's call, I don't really know what will happen.  Life calls.   I answer.  I show up.  I don't know why I've been called, or even what I'm supposed to do most of the time, other than show up.  And, once I show up, I do my best to ride the wave and stay on my surfboard.

Things are working out very differently in France than I expected.  Why I expected things to turn out in any particular way is a mystery.  You'd think I would have learned by now not to expect anything, but obviously that lesson is still being learned.

I thought I was going to live in Uzes.  But, things haven't opened here either as quickly or as easily as I thought they would.  Hmmm...  What is Life telling me?  I'm not sure, but I just stay with it and keep going.  I find another apartment, this time the process is smoother, but still taking its time and feeling a bit drawn out.  Then, just a day before I'm scheduled to have an apartment inspection and sign the rental contract, I'm offered an alternative opportunity for a place to live.  Everything changes.

Things happen more slowly in France than they do in the U.S.  This is not a bad thing.  It is just something I need to adjust to.  The French are not in a hurry.  Life is not something to be hurried through.  Life is something to be savored.  These are lessons I need to learn.

I went to a lunch gathering at the home of a friend here in Uzes and met some local people who encouraged me to slow down my apartment search.  They also offered me some viable alternatives for places to live so that the housing search could proceed at a more relaxed pace.  I started to open to other ways of doing this and see new possibilities for how things could happen if I gave it all more time and space.  I started to wonder about whether taking the apartment I'd found was the best decision.  Maybe taking a step back is what was needed.

Parallel to my rental search, was the unfolding journey of a friend who was in the process of trying to buy a house a bit north of where Uzes is, near a town called Montelimar.  This friend is someone I met on the airplane coming to France.  We each had had our seat assignment changed twice as Life did what was needed to make sure we were seated next to each other.  When I first saw my new friend, I thought he looked familiar, but I knew I'd never met him.  We sat in a row of five seats.  I was in the seat on the far right, there was an empty seat next to me--thank you! thank you! thank you!--and my friend sat in the middle seat.  We started talking and ended up talking for most of the flight.  We hit it off like we'd know each other forever.  And, in some dimension, we probably have.  He feels like my long lost younger brother, like family.

We've stayed in contact and followed each others respective journeys in our residence efforts.  He was driving back north, after conducting some business south of Uzes, and he stopped to see me and we had dinner.  During the dinner, which happened a day before I was supposed to sign my rental contract, he offered me the opportunity to move into the house he was in the process of buying.  Whoa...  Another possibility.  Plot twist!  As soon as he asked me, I knew my answer was "yes."  Everything within me relaxed into that "yes."

The house is huge, with more than enough room for multiple people to live there.  I will start off in some available upstairs rooms as an apartment is prepared for me on the ground floor.  It is in the country with lots of land and lavender fields surrounding it.  It is about 15 kilometers outside of the town of Montelimar, which is larger than Uzes.  I've seen photographs of it, but will see it for the first time on Saturday before returning to the U.S. on Sunday to pack and do what needs to be done in order to come back to France to live full-time.

I'm more excited than anxious.  And, even though this is all happening in a time of planetary upheaval and travel advisories, I know things are proceeding as they need to be.  I see my path ahead of me and I just keep walking.  I still have no idea of the speed bumps yet to come or of any number of plot twists that will surface along the way, but I have a sense of well-being in regard to everything.  I have a deepened sense of trust in knowing that things will work out for the best, even if I can't always see that.  I've come to understand that a closed door, or a "no," or a slowing down of progress is just Life steering me in a different direction.  I'm still on my surfboard and feel like I'm finally starting to drop into the tube of my own life.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Here I Am

I am in France.  I'm not just traveling in France, I'm in the process of moving here.  I am in the South, in a small town called Uzes, in the Languedoc-Rousillon provence.  The closest larger towns are Nimes and Avignon.  I had never been here before until coming here now to find a place to live.  True to how Life happens for me, I was called to this place.  Called, as in a bolt of lightning striking and an awareness of, not just the South of France, but Uzes in particular.  Okay.  When Life calls, I show up.  So, here I am.

I rarely, if ever, know why I'm called to a place, person or thing.  I just accept that I am.  Sometimes, I realize later what the call was about, sometimes I don't.  But, if I show up and let Life unfold as it will, then I'm giving what Life has in store for me a chance, a context in which to happen.  So, here I am.

On this trip, the things that needed to happen--or, I should say, the things I thought needed to happen, because what really needed to happen is much larger in scale--are that I open a French bank account, which I've done; and, that I find a place to live and sign a rental contract for the length of my long-stay visa, which is a year.  I don't have the long-stay visa yet.  I have to apply for it through the French Consulate when I go back to the U.S.  But, I have to have the French bank account and the rental contract in order to apply for the visa.  So, here I am.

When I lock onto a call that Life has given me, I'm used to things coming together pretty quickly.  It is typical of me to swoop in and magnetize things to me in a short amount of time.  But, I'm not usually in contexts this different and unfamiliar to me.  And, my usual pattern of swooping in and whipping it all together isn't working.  This time, it's requiring some adjustments.

Initially, I was going through a rental agency referred to me through a friend.  But, the person I met there didn't seem particularly interested in showing me places and didn't get back to me as he said he would.  Frustrated with our interaction, I branched out and visited other agencies, looking for other people and possibilities.  I ended up finding an apartment through one of these agencies and spent three days working with the people involved in order to rent the apartment, only to be told that they were not going to rent to me because I did not have my long-stay visa.  I explained to them that I needed the rental contract in order to get the long-stay visa, but they didn't care.  They had also decided that I didn't really have an open bank account, even after talking to my banker, who assured them that I did; and, they said it was "illegal" for them to rent to me without a long-stay visa, which it isn't, but none of that matters now.

The unconditional "no" I'd received from these people stopped me in my tracks.  What?  Did I hear you correctly?  No?  You've got to be kidding.  But, it was indeed a "no."  And, they weren't kidding.  And, there was no movement around their "no."  Done.  Door closed.  Move on.

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  At first I couldn't breathe at all.  And then, I started to breathe very deeply.  As I started to breathe again, I realized how out of my body I'd been.  I'd been hovering around my body instead of inhabiting it.  I'd been here, but not really been "here."  But, the "no" has grounded me into myself, and into this place, in a way that I needed to be and hadn't been.  And, so, here I am.

At first, all my fears about being here surfaced.  Am I really supposed to be here?  Did I "get it" correctly in answering the call to this place?  Did I self-sabotage in some way?  No.  No to all of my insecure questions.  And, no need to blow up one small speed bump of a "no" into a "no" of major proportion.  Breathe.  Keep going.

I have this inner sense of calm now, this deep feeling that everything is going to be okay.  I have no idea how long it will last, but I'm so grateful for it while it's here.  I need to remember how being grounded into my body feels.  I need to remember that when I really come into my body, things calm down and get quiet.  I need to remember that when I come into my body I feel safe and have a sense of well-being.  I need to remember to breathe and tune in to where I am and listen.  Life is always communicating with us, but we don't always listen.  I need to listen.  So, here I am.

I realize that my own desperation in regard to perceived time and money limitations were running the show.  My own lifetime pattern of doing things quickly, of pushing through, of stubborn determinism were running rampant yet again.  No.  Stop.  Breathe.  Re-group.  Tune in.  Listen.

I think I needed to spin myself out with the apartment that didn't happen.  I needed it in order to get a grip and slow down.  If it had happened, I think I would have spun out even more.  The people I was dealing with weren't easy, but I kept going, determined to make it work.  They were unreasonable, but I tried to appease their demands.  These are tendencies that I so needed to see in myself.

I have trouble saying "no," and I don't like hearing it either.  But, "no" is part of Life.  "No" is okay.  Sometimes, "no" is good, and saves us from ourselves.  Or, it moves us in ways we wouldn't have gone, and helps us discover things we wouldn't have discovered.  It shows us alternatives we wouldn't have seen, and helps us get where we needed to go in the first place.

I'm now more open to this place, to its Spirit and its voice, than I was before.  This place, Uzes, called me, and I need to really feel into it and be fully with it...with her, for she is feminine.  How could I just come in, without ever really connecting to this place, and hope to have found a place to live that really fit?  Why did I, and do I, rush through things instead of savoring them?  Why do I limit my experience of Life in any way?  I was feeling like I was drowning in panic and overwhelm before; but, since the "no," all of that has slipped away. 

I don't know how long it will take me to find an apartment.  I don't know how quickly or easily all the paperwork around it will get done.  I don't know when I'll fly back to the U.S., or when I'll move out of my apartment there, or how long the long-stay visa process will take and what other speed bumps might reveal themselves along the way.  But, somehow, right now, I'm okay with all of it.  I've opened to this journey and am ready to take it in and live it instead of skimming the surface of it.

I've let go of my "lack and limitation" perspective.  I've settled into a deeper place of knowing that, smooth or not, it's all going to work out and be okay.  I realize that all is well.  What a relief!  So, here I AM.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I Am a Pilgrim

I have been back in San Diego from walking The Camino de Santiago for a week now.  It feels like I'm home, and then it doesn't.  It seems like I was gone for a very long time, and no time at all.  It's as if nothing happened, only I know that a lot happened, both internally and externally.  I'm the same, but I'm changed.  I miss it, and I'm glad it's finished.  I'm all over the map in terms of what I'm feeling.

My feet have recovered for the most part.  They're not swollen anymore.  I still might lose a toenail, and some skin on my feet and toes is still renewing itself, but my arches are okay and didn't collapse as I thought they might have.  I can fit in my regular shoes, which I was afraid might no longer be possible.

The Camino is a universe unto itself.  It doesn't matter which route of The Camino one walks.  All of them are going to Santiago de Compostela.  And, it doesn't matter whether the person walking thinks they're doing it for spiritual, religious or recreational reasons.  Whatever one's reason for being on The Camino, it has its way with each of us.  It works us and transforms us, even if we're unaware of it doing so.

The Camino is a sacred pilgrimage, a very old one.  Hundreds of thousands of people have walked it for over 1,200 years.  No matter one's religious background or beliefs, when one walks The Camino, one walks it under the guidance and auspices of St. James, the apostle, and one walks it to the Cathedral which houses his remains in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.  One walks it in communion with the energy of St. James and of every soul who's ever ever set foot upon it.  Why one walks it is as varied as the people who walk it, but for myself, and for most of those I talked with while walking it, we feel "called" to it.  It exerts a pull on us that is impossible to ignore.

I knew about The Camino for a while before walking it and it never called me until this year.  It was a sudden and clear awareness for me that walking The Camino was the next step on my journey.  I didn't know why in any logical sense, I just knew that Life was calling me to it, and when Life calls me to anything, I show up.  Once I made the decision to respond to the call, everything in my life shaped itself around making it possible and getting me there.

I am not an athletic person.  I don't go to the gym or have any type of exercise program that I follow.  And, The Camino requires one to walk farther than most of us ever think of walking.  The route I walked, which is known as the Camino Frances, starts in St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France and goes for about 780 kilometers (approximately 500 miles) to Santiago de Compostela.  Nothing prepared me for the difficulty of the walk.  Nothing I read prior to walking The Camino--and, I read a lot of books--gave me any real understanding of what would be required of me.  I was pushed so far past my comfort zone that I went into shock--both mentally and physically--the first few days.  My body was beyond stressed by what I was asking it to do.  I was nauseous and had diarrhea for the first three days.  I couldn't eat or keep food down.  It was extreme.  But, the body is an amazing vehicle, and mine rose to the challenge.

I walked too far on most days, even after I adjusted to what I was doing.  I had given myself a period of time in which to walk, and thought that I had planned it reasonably, but I was mistaken.  I should have given myself more time and walked less every day.  But, it was what it was.  I understand how far a kilometer is and how long it takes me to walk that far.  I know it in my bones.  My feet know it.  My body found its own walking rhythm.  I knew by how I felt how far I'd walked each day.  I found out how far my body wanted to walk and how far was too far.  I connected to my body in ways that I never had previously.  I listened to it.  I talked to it.  I paid attention to it.  I honored it.  I thanked it.  I apologized to it.  I encouraged it.  I loved it.  I developed a relationship with my body, which is something that's new for me.  And, is something for which I'm very grateful.

I walked alone most of the time.  I'm comfortable with myself.  I like being alone.  The Camino winds through an ever beautiful and changing landscape that I never found boring.  The beauty was often awe inspiring, even though the path was often difficult and mostly rocky.  I mean literally rocky, as in covered with rocks.  Walking for hour after hour and day after day over very rocky terrain is torture on the feet.  My experience was very multidimensional in that I could be aware of the amazing beauty that surrounded me while at the same time feeling a lot of pain and discomfort from the walking that got me there.  I could enjoy what I was doing on one level while feeling exhausted and pushed to my limit on another level.  I had days of intense communion with Life and deep awareness, and I had days of just putting one foot in front of the other.  I wanted it to go on and on, and I wanted it to be over...all at the same time.

The Camino is life-transforming, in ways both large and small.  It is a way of being, a particular perspective.  I think The Camino starts walking us as soon as we decide to walk it.  And, I think it continues to walk us, even after we've finished walking it.  I think walking The Camino is a much deeper and longer commitment than we might realize when we first decide to do it.  It is in me now.  The Camino is part of me and always will be.  I am a pilgrim.  I will always be a pilgrim.

Someone said to me that I should be proud of myself for having walked The Camino, that it is a real accomplishment.  But, I don't think of it that way.  I'm humbled by The Camino.  I feel honored to have walked it.  I feel blessed by it.  I'm in awe of it.  I'm deeply grateful for the experience of having walked it.  It is one of my life's gifts.  There are other pilgrimages, other walks, but there is only one Camino, even though it has many routes.  It is unique and special in terms of what it gives and what it takes.  It expands and enriches the lives of all who walk it, and lives on in the hearts of each of us who've given ourselves to it.  It is an ongoing experience.  The walking never really ends, nor would any of us want it to.  The walk continues.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Gift of Loving Relationship

I'm exceptionally patient and understanding with people...until I snap.  And, once I snap, it's like a switch gets flipped, and I'm done.  I don't blow up or get confrontational, I'm just done.

Throughout my life, I've allowed those around me to get away with some very unacceptable behavior.  My tendency has been, and still is somewhat, to react to someone's potential.  I'm able to perceive who they're capable of being, even if they're not actually achieving that potential.  I'm also able to perceive the issues and limitations that keep them from that potential, which, in the past, has often meant that I've excused certain behavior because I'm able to see where it comes from.  But, no more.  I no longer feel a need to excuse anyone's behavior for any reason.  They can do whatever and be whomever they want, but I can choose to not be around them.

Age is an amazing thing.  As one gets older, one loses patience in a lot of ways with things that previously would have been accepted or overlooked.  I've stayed in relationships way longer than was necessary because I've made excuses for people and thought they would change.  But, it was me who needed to change.  Why did I want to be around unkind, mean-spirited and disrespectful behavior?  Why was I disrespecting myself by allowing such behavior to be okay?  Why was I concerned about hurting someone's feelings who'd just hurt mine?  Why was it so hard for me to speak up or walk away?

Someone I considered to be a friend said something inappropriate and unkind to me today.  It was said in an off-hand and casual manner.  When I spoke up about it, the person said they were joking, but they weren't.  And, even if they were, an unkind and inappropriate joke, at the expense of someone else's feelings, is still unkind and inappropriate.  No excuses.  Zero tolerance.  If they'd apologized and owned the unkind and inappropriate nature of what had been said, then we could have moved forward.  But, because it was side-stepped and the excuse was made of it being a joke, then we had no where to go.  It first made me angry and then, after the anger had passed, I felt sad.

It's not always easy to accept people for who they are.  It often means we have to move on when moving on wasn't what we had in mind.  But, being kind and respectful to myself is more important to me now than feeling I need to be patient with someone else, hoping they will change.  I've never been the most confident and secure person to start with.  I've worked very hard to achieve the confidence in myself that I have at this point in my life.  And, I now realize that it's too personally destructive to remain in relationship with anyone who would chip away at me due to their own issues.

It's important to treat each other with care.  We're all fragile in certain ways.  We all have triggers that can be set off by unthinking, unkind, and disrespectful remarks.  Our words have the ability to cut very deeply and, once said, are impossible to take back.  Once damage is done, it's done.  An apology helps if it's forthcoming, but we're wary after someone has hurt us.  Our walls start to go up and we step back.

Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.  But, kindness and respect often go by the wayside in familiar and comfortable relationships.  We're at our most vulnerable when we love someone and are in close friendship with them because we let down our guard around them, which opens us up to be hurt if the other person isn't careful.  We're especially vulnerable in close relationship because the other person knows our weak points, and if they choose to exploit them at our expense, it leaves us feeling hurt and betrayed.  Relationships are sacred and need to be valued and protected.  We must hold each others feelings and vulnerabilities very gently, and honor the trust it takes to reveal ourselves in the first place.

Loving relationships are supportive and nurturing.  They strengthen and increase us.  They help us see our own value, because we are valued within them.  They honor the sacred trust of personal revelation as the precious thing that it is.  May we all realize the gift of loving relationship and treasure it when we're blessed to have it.  May we all treat each other with kindness and respect.  May we lift each other up at every opportunity.  May we build bridges between each other instead of tearing them down.  And, may we take responsibility for our mistakes and transgressions, learn from them and strive to treat each other better.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Blessing of a Day

I sit in the quiet of the afternoon.  I can hear someone practicing the piano a few apartments away.  Hands striking the same few stanzas over and over.  Fingers and muscles memorizing the movements that make the desired sounds.  Ears tuning themselves to the slightest variations of tone.  I enjoy it.  I enjoy listening to someone trying over and over and over to get it right.  And, so much is electronic these days that the authentic, organic sounds of the piano keys hitting the strings is pleasing, no matter what is being played.

There is also the sound of a large truck's engine grumbling away on the street.  Who knows why the engine must continue to run for such a long period of time.  There is construction only a block away.  Every once in a while I hear the brakes let up and release in a loud puff of air, but the truck doesn't seem to move or leave.  Because I'm focused on the piano notes, the truck sounds fade into the background.

There are sirens blaring nearby.  I live in a neighborhood where there is a fire house a half block away and two hospitals within two blocks of me.  Sirens are a regular part of life.  I bless them when I hear them going off to help someone.  Who are they saving today?  Who are the angels who drive the ambulances and tend to the those who need help?  I was rushed to the hospital once by such angels.  I don't remember their faces, but I remember their hearts.  They were kind and efficient and so reassuring.  My asthma had gotten the best of me and I could barely breathe much less talk, but I struggled to thank them over and over.  I wanted them to know how grateful I was that they were there for me.  I hoped my eyes could tell them what my voice couldn't.

My cat, Sophie, is asleep on the bed in the next room.  Her quiet presence always there with me.  She's an extremely independent soul, who enjoys being alone most of the time, which is more of a reflection of myself than I care to admit.  Every once in a while, she comes to me, slinking silently by, rubbing my legs very gently, usually because she's hungry.  I bend to pet her as she passes and then dutifully get up to fetch her the food she's wanting.  She might then gift me with a visitation for a while, although more often, having gotten what she wanted, goes back to her nest on the bed.  She is my only remaining cat.  It's just the two of us now.  And, I'm grateful for her every day.

The piano player has changed his tune and another sequence of notes is repeatedly being attempted.  This time the effort is better rewarded and there is more continuous melody before it stops and starts again.  I admire the person's perseverance.  I can tell it's not a child, but an adult who plays.  Someone learning to play later in life.  Such learning is more difficult, but more rewarding.  I remember trying to learn to play the piano when I was a child and having no appreciation for it whatsoever.  I had no patience with the process and, after much complaining, my mother gave up on me and stopped the piano lessons.  I was happy about it at the time, but wish I'd continued as I look back.  How lovely it would be to have the ability to play the piano at this point in time, which is why I so admire the one who practices a few apartments away from me.  They are working toward a desire they've probably carried for a long time.

The sounds of hammering from the construction site have filtered their way into the mix my ears are enjoying.  I can hear lumber being placed.  And then, not the quick jolting pops that a nail gun makes, but the rhythmic sounds of a hammer being wielded by someone's hand.  It starts and stops, then helps a board into place, then secures it to its position with more nail pounding.  I wonder if those working on the construction project appreciate their progress on a daily basis.  There would be satisfaction in creating a building where people could live and work in comfort and safety.

Some days I'm more focused on things less immediately near me.  I might be more caught up in the past or in planning for the future or in thinking of all the things I'd like to get done.  But today is a slow, quiet day of being present in a way that I'm not always capable.  A day of noticing and appreciating the Life all around me.  A day when the Life around me feeds me instead of annoying me.  A day of gratitude for small and basic things.  A day when fear and concern have slipped away, all on their own.  The blessing of a day of peace and grace.  And, one of my constant, go-to prayers repeats within me the way the notes of the piano repeat...thank you, thank you, thank you.       

Friday, August 7, 2015

Creator Gods

I think we're all incredibly brave.  We choose to come here to this tiny blue planet on the edge of the Milky Way and live lives of extremes of joy and pain, of beauty and horror, of love and wonder.  We get up every day and go at it again, never knowing what the day holds, just trusting, putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward in spite of everything.

We're creator gods, even though most of us have lost our way and forgotten who we really are.  We get caught up in the small things that tend to make up a life, and forget that we're so much more.  I amaze myself at how focused I can become on the small things that are so insignificant in the scope of Life; not just the lives we've chosen to come here to live, but in the bigger arena of all Life.  And yet, it is often the small things that are so precious...the touch of a hand, the kindness of a stranger, the laughter of a child, the look of love from the eyes of one who shines their light upon us.

Even though I've squandered many of them, I do realize that each day is a gift.  These bodies are gifts, and the full experience of being human is a gift, even in the times when it seems to break us, even when we're confused and don't know how we can go on, even when we think we can't bear what we've been given to bear.  And yet, bear it we do.  Humans are ultimately such a resilient bunch.

I think some of us choose lives of ease and rest, and some of us choose lives of great difficulty.  And, it's not easy to understand the differences and the choices in our lives, and how things play out for each of us.  But, we've been given free reign of the full gamut of human experience, and what makes sense for any one of us does not necessarily make sense for anyone else.  We didn't come here to be the same, or to fit in, or to please anyone other than ourselves.  We came here to experience Life through the limitations and filters that this planet affords.  There are certain parameters to this hologram, this matrix, and we've chosen them for what they're able to teach us.

As creator gods, we're always responsible for our creations, we're never victims, things don't happen to us, they happen because of us.  This is a hard one for most of us.  Taking full responsibility and never blaming anyone or anything else for our experience is both a burden and a blessing.  But, it is also the ultimate freedom and the ultimate power.     


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Acceptance of Pain

I haven't written for a bit, and then, today, it felt like something was wanting to be said.  My own physical condition, and a line written in a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, whose blog I subscribe to, and who I follow on Facebook, both conspired to trigger my way in.

In a poem posted today called "Receiving," Oriah wrote this:
Posted: 09 Jul 2015 07:57 AM PDT
Is there anything sweeter
than that moment when pain stops?
Like a ladle of clear, cold water
soothing the parched throat;
or the moment of infinite spaciousness
when my neighbour's leaf-blower is silenced.

And. . . .this too shall pass.

That thought makes me laugh out loud,
helps me check the impulse
to hold on to the sweetness,
knowing there is nothing
that needs to be grabbed
nothing that can be gripped by wanting,
only that which can be received.

~Oriah Mountain Dreamer (c) 2015

It was the first line that grabbed me:  "Is there anything sweeter than that moment when pain stops?"

Today, I could really relate to that.  We all live with a certain amount of pain.  Physical pain, emotional pain, mental pain, there are many types of pain and none of us are immune.  Pain is part of being human and being alive.  But, it's how we relate to our pain that makes all the difference.

I've had migraine headaches since my twenties.  Sometimes ripping through me with a vengeance, blinding me, turning my insides into mush, and sending me to bed for days at a time.  Life suspended.  Writhing in anguish so that all I could think of was wanting to die to escape the pain.  I've tried various medications to ease them, and have found some that are able to relieve the symptoms with very high consistency.  But, sometimes, they don't work.  Or, at least, they don't work right away.  And, all I'm left with is the pain.  Today was one of those days.

A migraine has an onset of symptoms that lets you know it's coming.  For me, there's a stiffness to my neck and shoulder muscles, a general tightening that won't let up.  I start to yawn over and over and feel sleepy.  A deep tiredness overtakes my body.  Sometimes, my vision is impaired and gets spotty, and I want to retreat from all light and go into total darkness.  It might be accompanied by nausea as my body does what it needs to in order to empty itself in whatever way necessary.  The sooner in this onset that I'm able to take the medication, the sooner the symptoms get arrested, and the greater chance I have of escaping the debilitating pain of a full-blown migraine.  If I wait too long to take the medication and the headache has a chance to get a grip, then the whole situation deteriorates and it takes the medication a long time to overcome the pain.  Today was one of those days.

Even after years of experiencing migraines, I still hesitate to take the medication sometimes, thinking that maybe I won't need it, maybe the headache will not be so bad or will go away.  It doesn't make any sense.  I always need the medication.  The headache is always bad.  And, it doesn't just go away.  Or, at least it doesn't just go away before having its way with me.

I've been studying and practicing energetic medicine for many years.  I went to an energetic medicine school throughout a period of two years to study with an amazing healer.  I've taken many different classes over many years and studied many different protocols of energetic medicine and healing.  I did it to heal myself.  I thought I'd be able to learn how to stop the migraines and the other physical conditions I live with.  But, I was wrong.  I think I've affected things and lessened the severity of the symptoms over the years, but I have not stopped them.  What I have done, though, is grow as a person through all of my experiences learning about healing and trying to heal myself.  It has focused me and kept me moving in ways that have been very beneficial.  It has helped me to understand myself and Life in very deep and expansive ways.  It has given me understanding and compassion for anyone who suffers for any reason.

I do believe we create our reality.  Sometime consciously and more often, for most of us,  unconsciously.   The cause of why my migraines happen continues to elude me.  Why they continue to be of value to me is not obvious.  But, continue they do.  What is the wound within me that causes so much pain and manifests itself in the physical as a migraine?  Why am I not able to really see it for what it is?  What is it that I resist so strongly?  What is it that I'm so unable to accept?  What is it that I'm so incapable of loving free?  I might never know, which is something else I struggle with accepting.

So, one is left with learning to live with the pain.  There is a story of Guru Ma healing a leper by licking his wounds; and, as she licked his wounds, they healed.  She healed all the wounds but one, which she purposely left, and when asked why, she said it was because if she healed all the wounds, the person would forget...forget the grace of the healing, the energy of the Life that healed, and the one through whom the healing took place.  But, with one wound still in place, forgetting would not be possible, and awareness and gratitude would remain.  Who are we to question the gifts that we have been given?  Why do we think gifts only come in nicely wrapped packages?

Pain is a difficult gift to receive and accept.  Pain does not usually engender gratitude.  Pain is a partner to whom surrender is a struggle.  But, we must learn to dance with it none the less.  I struggled with the pain of my migraine today for hours before I was able to just let go and be with it, at which point I fell asleep.  Finally.  The sweet escape of deep sleep.  And, when I awoke, hours later, the pain was gone.  I awoke to that sweet moment of the pain having stopped.  Such grace.  And, through the struggle and release, the surrender to the dance with darkness, I reached a place of peace.  One step closer to awareness.  One step more into alignment with the truth and value of the pain.  One step farther into acceptance.  One step closer to love.  Some days the window opens.  Some days we're able to see.  Today was one of those days.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Through the Eye of the Needle

So, the consensus of opinions I received in response to my last post was that I should basically get over myself and cheer up.  Jeez...tough crowd.  I get that it's uncomfortable to dance with our darkness and allow anger and upset to move.  I hate it.  Just like I hate making mistakes.  Being comfortable and having no conflict is my preferred state, but Life doesn't always adjust itself to my preferences.   I still say that sometimes the only thing to do is to allow everything to be what it is and not wish it was otherwise.  I still say that sometimes it's about being uncomfortable.  I still say that sometimes it's about accepting that there's nothing that can be fixed.  And, I still say that sometimes it's about regret.

I'm not advocating hanging out for the rest of my life in any of these states, but they all serve a purpose.  In any situation, it's important to be able to see it for what it is and stop wishing it was different.  Wishing things were different doesn't make them so, it just stalls everything.  Digging in with "what ifs" and "woulda, coulda, shoulda" just sets us up to get stuck instead of move forward.   If we can see the truth of what's happening then we're more apt to respond appropriately and to find a solution, if one exists.

Being able to be with our discomfort is a very useful tool.  I hate being uncomfortable.  Being comfortable is high on my list of preferred states of being.  But, allowing a state of discomfort to exist without doing anything to wriggle out of it is valuable.  Being able to be with our discomfort holds a lot of clues as to how we got into that state to begin with.  Why am I so uncomfortable?  What is it I'm resisting?  What is it I don't want to acknowledge or see about myself?  Where is the discomfort coming from?  When we're able to give discomfort its space, it reveals all kinds of useful information.

Being able to accept that there's nothing in our current situation that can be fixed harks back to seeing things in the truth of what they are but is a little different.  Our first response is often to run around looking for a way to fix whatever has gone off the rails.  But, in my experience, I've often made things worse by attempting to fix my initial mistake.  Sometimes things can be fixed and, when that's the case, it's a huge relief.  But, other times, there's nothing to do, nothing to fix, nothing that will make it better.  To accept that what's happened is done and unfixable is no more my preference than being uncomfortable, but there's an inherent letting go when we're able to do it.

Regret is not a bad thing.  Regret is about wishing we'd done things better and/or differently.  Regret comes from caring and awareness.  If we don't regret something we've done, or a decision we've made, then we won't learn from it or find a way to forgiveness through it.  We first have to regret what happened in order to even know that forgiveness is necessary.  Why would we be sorry if we didn't regret what happened?  I think regret is valuable.  Again, I don't think hanging out with regret for the rest of one's life is a good idea, it's just another valuable stop on the journey.

I'm through the eye of the needle and on the other side of my reaction today, so things appear more clearly to me at this point.  But, it was necessary to allow myself the indulgence of letting all the emotions I was experiencing move through in order to get where I am now.  Every time something happens that triggers us into a strong reaction, it's like the scab got ripped off the wound and we're bleeding all over again.  And, every time we get triggered by some event, Life is giving us the chance to do it differently, to be different.  How many times and in how many ways do we need to get triggered by something in order to come into awareness and free the underlying issue?  Endless amounts of times.  Life gives us never-ending chances to find our way through things.  We're all starring in our very own "Groundhog Day" movie.

I still hate to make mistakes.  I still want to think that perfection exists and that there's a "right" way, even though I know there's not.  But, maybe next time I won't react quite so strongly.  Or, maybe I won't beat myself up quite so badly.  Who knows?  We never know until the trigger gets tripped again.  But, every time we can move through a reaction with some level of consciousness its impact gets diminished, even if just by a little.  And, at some point, we might even be able to realize that we were able to remain neutral in the face of something that would have previously caused a meltdown.

If we never got triggered, we'd never know where our issues are hiding.  Every time we get triggered into a reaction, we get another chance to look at the underlying cause and decide if we still need to keep it, or if we're able to let it move out and leave us in peace.  It's like the issue is waving goodbye as it starts to move, "Bye...I'm leaving...is it okay if I go now?"  If we're able to stay out of reaction to whatever's been triggered, it's like saying, "Sure...you can go."  And, if we move into reaction, then it's like saying, "No...I still need you."  And, there's no judgment.  And, we'll get endless chances at it.

So, my issues around self-worth are up.  It's all still rattling around.  And, I have no idea when or how things will settle this time, or how or if what I just went though will change anything or not.  But, I do know I'm going to have plenty of chances to find out!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mistakes

I hate making mistakes.  Really.  I hate it.  I know we're all human and we make mistakes and...bla, bla, bla...but, I hate it.  I've always tried so hard to be perfect, to do everything right.  In truth, I've not even come close to perfection and have done so many things wrong.  So many things.  And, what's really hard is when we do something that there's no coming back from; no possibility of recovery.  I've made many of these types of mistakes.  Mistakes you don't come back from.  Mistakes you just have to find a way to live with.  Mistakes you hopefully learn from and don't repeat, but permanently impactful mistakes that you can't fix.  Devastating mistakes.  Soul damaging mistakes.

I'm always amazed by people who say they have no regrets.  Really?  It's a new-age based idea to have no regrets.  A supposedly spiritual idea to have no regrets.  Everything brought us to this point.  Everything that's happened has contributed to who we are.  We should be grateful for everything that's happened to us and for all the mistakes we've made.  Again...bla, bla, bla.  I don't trust people who have no regrets.  How can anyone live their life and not deeply regret things they've done and decisions they've made?

My most recent mistake is so miniscule compared to other mistakes I've made that it's embarrassing to even bring it up; but, it doesn't help to diminish it and try to convince myself that it doesn't matter.  It matters.  It matters to me.  No matter how small it is in the scope of things.  And, I realize that my pattern of trying to rationalize myself out of how I'm feeling, and convince myself that I should feel differently from how I actually feel, is still very much alive and robust.

We have a yearly audit at work for all the departments, and because of mistakes I made, we failed the audit.  I did everything I could think of to prepare for this audit.  I thought I had everything covered.  But then, I made a stupid mistake that I knew not to make, but I made it anyway.  I didn't mean to make it.  I didn't intend to make it.  But, make it I did.  And, not only did I make this mistake, I made it three times.  Three times!  I know beating ourselves up is not the best idea, but punches are being thrown here, damage is being inflicted.

All my issues of self worth have been triggered.  The voice that tells me I'm not good enough, that I'll never be good enough, is loudly reminding me of all my shortcomings.  The voices that only have negative things to say are saying them, repeatedly, on an endless loop.  I'm awash in shame that I am, once again, responsible for failure.  That I have, once again, messed everything up.  I'm not in a good place right now.

I don't want to wallow in my darkness, but I also don't want to deny it.  I need to give these voices their space and to let these feelings move.  I need to acknowledge the issues at play and comfort the lost little girl who's crouched in the corner and wants to disappear.  Sometimes, the only thing to do is to allow everything to be what it is and not wish it was otherwise.  Sometimes, it's about being uncomfortable.  Sometimes, it's about acceptance that's there's nothing that can be fixed.  Sometimes, it's about regret.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Already Walking

I've been more aware of walking lately...the way I walk, the pace at which I walk, how it feels, how it impacts my body, how my feet move, how my shoes fit.  This isn't something that would normally take my attention, but I'm going on a very long walk--about 500 miles--relatively soon, so walking has become somewhat of a focus.

One of the things I've come to realize about the way I walk is that I do it quickly.  I tend to rush wherever I'm going.  It's all about getting to wherever I happen to be going, and not wasting any time doing it.  I can hear my mother's voice, "Don't dilly dally!  Come on!  Keep moving!  Let's go!"  Walking anywhere wasn't about anything other than getting there.  There was no discovery or exploration or smelling of the roses; no zigging or zagging or taking the long way 'round.

I actually feel breathless sometimes when I'm walking, like I'm moving so quickly I don't have time to breathe.  Asthma symptoms start to activate and I feel like my energy is being squeezed out of my body.  It takes a great act of will to slow myself down and ground myself back in and feel present.  I only recently became aware that the simple act of walking was so fraught with fear for me.  And that, when I'm walking, I revert to being the slow child who's incurring my mother's wrath; who's forever falling behind and incapable of "catching up" or "keeping up."

I decided to walk to a restaurant close by last night for dinner, and I had to constantly stay in awareness about how fast I was walking.  There seemed to be an added anxiety about crossing the street and I noticed that I would almost run from one curb to the other, hoping the light would stay green until I got there.  It took a lot of energy to monitor my pace and slow myself down and keep breathing.  I was very relieved to reach the restaurant and be able to sit down.  I then realized that I had some anxiety about having to walk home.  When my meal was finished and it was time for the return journey, I had to stop before walking out the door of the restaurant and take a few deep breaths to prepare myself to traverse the few blocks home.

When my sister and I were small, just starting elementary school, my father worked and my mother went to college, and my sister and I had to walk what seemed like a very long way to get to school.  My mom and dad both had to leave the apartment earlier than my sister and I did, so my mom showed me that when the big hand on the clock reached a particular point, it would be time for us to leave.  I was to hold my sister's hand and not let go and, if we walked at a good pace, we would arrive at the school on time.  I would watch the clock like a hawk and make sure we left at the appointed time.  I took the responsibility of getting us to school on time and safely very seriously, and I never wanted to face my mother's anger and upset should we be late or should anything happen on the way.  "Never talk to strangers."  "Never get into anyone's car you don't know."  "Never take anything anyone offers you."  "Never stop anywhere along the way."  The level of vigilance and fear this instilled in me was extreme.

I now realize that all of the patterns of vigilance and fear that were instilled in me as a kid, in regard to walking anywhere, are still operating; have never stopped operating.  And I think it's finally time to give it all a rest.  As much as I would like it if my awareness of these patterns alone would stop them, I know that's not the way things work.  It will take time and further vigilance to break the old patterns and establish new ways of moving in the world.  I'm learning to walk all over again.  Baby steps.  One foot in front of the other.  And, walking The Camino will help me to establish a whole new rhythm and way of being in my body; a new relationship to physicality in general.

As with anything we choose to do, once the decision is made and committed to, the journey begins...even before the first step.  Once we turn ourselves to it, we are in the experience of it.  I realize that I'm already walking The Camino energetically, and that it's already having its way with me, even though I haven't placed a foot on it yet, and won't until September.  I'm grateful for what has called me and for my choice to answer the call.  I'm grateful for the impact of the journey I'm on, for all the ways it's already changing me, and for all the ways it has yet to change me.  And, all I have to do is show up and keep walking.  I can do that.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Keep An Open Mind

I watched the Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner and thought it was very well done.  Not only was there a lot of time spent talking with him, but there was also a lot of information given and time spent educating the viewers.  For most of us, these issues have been more recently raised, and there are a lot of questions that come up.  The program did a good job of trying to answer many of those questions.

Bruce Jenner, to his great credit, was very honest and forthcoming about answering all the questions Diane Sawyer put to him.  And, he kept his sense of humor about his journey, throughout.  I was also happy to see that he has a good understanding of the role he's playing for the collective, and how he's in service through the sharing of his experience.  He said that he thinks his whole life has prepared him for this moment, and I think that's true for all of us.  We don't know how all the parts of our journey come together while we're living them but, in hindsight, we can look back and see that, yes, everything played its part in preparing us for our now moment.  Maybe our "now" isn't as fully realized as Bruce's is at this moment, but we'll all get there, or have been there.  And, most of us won't be playing out our "nows" on the world stage the way he is, but that doesn't make any of our experiences in the living of our journeys any less impactful or important.

After watching the interview, I felt that I'd been given a lot to think about in terms of my own perspectives and understanding of the issues involved in Bruce's story.  One of the explanations that was given was in regard to what the word "gender" means.  Very simply, I always thought of gender as the thing that was determined by one's genitalia.  But, not necessarily so.  It's more a state of mind, a state of being.  Bruce has the genitalia of a man, and yet identifies himself as a woman.  He's been seen as a man, but is now in the process of a transformation that will allow himself to be seen as a woman, although his genitalia might remain the same.  He hasn't made a decision yet as to whether to undergo "gender reassignment" surgery.

Bruce is not gay, in that he's never been sexually attracted to men.  One of the questions Diane Sawyer asked him was, since he's sexually attracted to women, once he's gone through his complete transformation into womanhood, will he then be a lesbian?  He didn't have an answer for her and said to just consider him asexual for the moment.  For, like anything we do in life, we don't know the full ramifications and repercussions of it until we're in the midst of the living of it.  Things will continue to reveal themselves as his journey continues.  And, labels will change and need to be let go of altogether as our perceptions expand and grow.

Another thing that was said in the program was that sexual desire is not connected to gender.  Of course, as I think about it, that should have been obvious to me, but it wasn't.  Although, it would be something that a bisexual person would probably understand very well.  Desire is desire, attraction is attraction, love is love...irrespective of gender.  I think it's connected to the ability to be attracted to the essence of someone, separate from their outward appearance; the ability to look beyond the physicality of someone, and/or to accept it, and commune with them in whatever form they happen to inhabit.

Labels and definitions have also been called into question, which is always a good thing.  Our minds love to label and identify things, to figure them out and compartmentalize them.  When our definitions of things get challenged, it means we have to rearrange our whole way of thinking and perceiving, and humans don't historically like to do that.  We fight to keep our definitions of things in tact, sometimes literally.  There were examples given on the show of transgender people who've been physically beaten up and murdered because of who they are.  The embodiment of transgender, and the challenge to perception it represents, is so unacceptable to some people that they respond with physical violence.  Instead of rethinking to incorporate a new concept or idea, or at least opening up to the possibility that it's okay for someone to be different from them, they try to eliminate the evidence of difference altogether.  And, humans do this with many things, not just gender-related issues.

Why is it so hard for us to accept people who are different?  Why is it so hard to allow others to believe and live their lives differently from the way we do?  Historically, when life was lived in tribes in a wilder time, someone who was different might have posed a threat.  So, maybe it's our primitive brain that still registers "threat" when faced with anything or anyone different.  Somehow, it seems that we're hard-wired on some level to respond defensively to difference.  And, we still cluster in tribes of our own making.  Gangs are urban tribes and wear "colors" to denote themselves.  Within work environments and corporate cultures, people dress similarly and often think similarly.  There are dress codes and codes of behavior that we're expected to adhere to in certain cultures and environments.  Countries are the same way, there are established ways of being that are accepted depending on where we're from geographically and culturally.  But, slowly and surely, these types of definitions and boundaries are dissolving, and we are learning to become more accepting of our differences as we expand our awareness from a small geographical area to include the whole world.

As our tribe becomes all of humanity, our acceptance of differences among us becomes mandatory.  It can no longer matter if someone is transgender, because they're human, and their humanity is the most important thing.  No matter our differences, on any level of thinking or believing or being, we are linked by our humanity.  We are all the same at our core.  The Life that lives us is the same, no matter what we look like, or how we think, or what we believe, or how we live our lives.

At the end of the interview, Diane Sawyer asks Bruce Jenner how he'd like people to respond to what he's doing and he says he'd like them to keep an open mind.  Just that...keep an open mind.  That's not much to ask.  If we could keep our minds open instead of jumping to conclusions of threat based on ancient impulses, peace would have a chance.  We can acknowledge feelings of threat and realize they're baseless.  We can acknowledge the fight or flight response and realize it's unnecessary.  It's not about ignoring the impulses that are genetically hard-wired into our systems; it's about receiving them, listening to them, and responding to them in the truth of the moment with an open mind.

Keep an open mind.  Listen.  Consider.  Be ready to change and adapt and accept.  There's no singular correct response to anything that confronts us.  It's not about right or wrong.  It's about keeping an open mind about whatever it is that's presenting itself...being willing to receive...being empathetic...being compassionate...being respectful...keeping an open mind.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bruce Jenner

I've thought a lot about Bruce Jenner lately.  Normally, I have no idea what the man is doing.  I don't watch the Kardashian family reality TV show, or read celebrity magazines; but lately, you can't get away from what's going on with Bruce Jenner.

Transgender, according to the dictionary I used online, means:  a person whose self-identity does not conform to conventional notions of male or female gender.  From Wikipedia, taken from the GLAAD Media Reference Guide:  "Transgender is the state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned sex."  Wow...I truly can't imagine how difficult it must be to be in a body of a gender that doesn't match up to how one sees oneself.

Bruce Jenner is my age.  I've tried to imagine what it would be like to have lived my whole life with a self-identity that didn't match up to who I was at the most basic level.  The confusion, pain and anger this would cause would be huge and far-reaching.  And, might not have been obvious for a long time.  I have my own struggles with my self-identity, but certainly not with the fact that I'm a woman.

I think it's incredibly brave of Bruce Jenner to finally be going through a process of change that will allow him to be who he feels himself to be.  The blow-back from family and culture is huge after revealing such a deeply personal truth about oneself.  The strength required to stand up and say, this is who I am, and this is what I want to do about it, as well as to then stand up to the media and familial pressures that come in its wake, is admirable.  To do this on the world stage takes a great amount of courage.  And, even though he's doing it for himself...finally...he's also doing it for all of us.  He's contributing to an open discussion and acceptance of what it means to be transgender, and helping everyone to deal with it in a way that will only help all the transgender people who come after him.  He's in deep service to us all by doing what he's doing.

We're living in a time when so many ideas are being challenged and so many boundaries are being pushed, and it's a wonderful time to be alive.  We're growing into a much more accepting culture through every discussion that's triggered by what Bruce Jenner, and people like him, are doing.  And, thank goodness for the medical community that makes it possible for people to make this kind of transformation.

We've got a long way to go to get to the point where everyone is accepted and embraced for who they are, both personally and culturally, but Bruce Jenner is pushing us forward toward that goal.  Each and every person who takes their personal journey public, and triggers deep thought and discussion around subjects that have historically been hidden in the shadows, is moving us all forward.  And, step by step, we open our minds and hearts to each other, and find our way to an acceptance of each other that will allow us to live in freedom and safety.

Thanks, Bruce Jenner.  You're helping us all more than you know.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Long Overdue Update

Boy...have things changed since I wrote the last post before "Negri."  Jeez...  It's been a long time since I felt like writing until I did the post for Negri's passing.  A huge fallow period with no desire to write or post whatsoever.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.

I did find work, unexpectedly, at a Home Goods store not far from where I was living.  There was a "hiring" sign in the window and I went in and applied.  They took a few weeks to call, but hired me as a part-time, temporary, seasonal Christmas cashier and floor associate at the end of 2013.  I was just happy to have a job.

I worked as a cashier and then was promoted to being a supervisor over the cashiers at the front end, which I initially thought was a good thing, but soon realized wasn't at all what I wanted.  It was too many hours of work each week when what I really wanted was a part-time job.  And, it was too much stress and too much responsibility for someone who didn't want to "move up the ladder" and become a manager.  So, I went back to being a regular cashier and also working a couple of days in the cash office, which was perfect.  Now, I only work in the cash office and don't cashier at all anymore, and I really like it.  I balance the cash drawers, do the bank deposits, get to work in the quiet of a small office away from the sales floor, don't have to lift heavy furniture, don't have to be on my feet all the time, and don't have to deal with customers.  It's only a few hours on the days I work.  I go in early in the morning and am off before lunch.  Ahhh...

Working in the cash office is a job that I didn't realize existed.  I wouldn't have known to apply for it.  And, I wouldn't have thought I was qualified for it, even if I had known it existed.  But, by taking the available job that was offered to me, the better job opened up after time.  I also had to get over my old pattern of wanting to do more and take on more responsibility, by realizing I didn't want to be a supervisor, before working in the cash office showed its real appeal.  But, the journey got me where I needed to be.

I downsized from the first apartment I got when I moved back to San Diego, which was a two-bedroom, into a studio apartment.  Before I retired, I needed a second bedroom to use as an office and a place to keep all my work supplies and paraphernalia.  After I retired, it took me a while to realize I didn't need an office anymore, a desk and a small file cabinet were enough.  I also started to look around me and want less stuff.  All my stuff was starting to feel suffocating.  So, I sold everything I could, gave away the rest, threw away what was left, and moved into the smallest space in which I've ever lived.  And, I loved it.

My studio apartment was in a charming old building that was over a hundred years old and just a couple of blocks from Balboa Park close to downtown San Diego.  My foldout secretary desk was built into the wall next to the small built-in bookcase.  My bed pulled out like a big drawer under the desk and bookcase.  And, my small, but "walk-in" closet was above where the bed pulled out.  The kitchen was small but complete, and the bathroom was bigger than the one I'd had in my two-bedroom apartment.  There was a rooftop deck that looked out over San Diego Bay.  There was a laundry facility for the building.  They took my three cats.  I had to park on the street, but it was never really a problem.  I had everything I needed.

While living in the studio apartment, my beloved cat, Buddy, got very sick and made his transition, which was a very difficult passage for me.  I only got to be Buddy's companion and caretaker for the last four years of his life, but he was a very special being, and took over a large part of my heart.

Winter in the studio apartment proved to be very uncomfortable when it became clear that no heat was ever going to reach it from the boiler system in the basement.  And, no amount of complaining about the lack of heat brought any improvement over a period of months.  So, not long after Buddy passed, I was given permission to move prior to the end of my lease.

I'm now living in a small one-bedroom apartment.  I'm very happy here and have more amenities than I ever thought I'd be able to afford in an apartment.  I have a garage, which, after parking on the street, is a huge luxury.  I have a fireplace, which isn't something I would have told you I wanted, but is something that I love having.  I have a bedroom.  Amazing.  It's nice to have a bedroom again after the pull-out bed.  I have my own washer and dryer!  Which, after going up and down three flights of stairs to a coin-operated and shared facility, is something I'm on-my-knees grateful for.  I have a garbage disposal, which might sound basic, but which I greatly missed not having.  And, I have a private outdoor balcony, which my landlord was generous enough to screen in for me so that the cats could safely go out there and not jump off.  We've been very comfortable here.

The next big change came when Negri, my oldest female cat, whose health had been in serious decline since just before Buddy passed, made her transition.  She'd been with me for fifteen years and was the dearest, sweetest cat.  Losing her is a huge adjustment.  And, losing her and Buddy both within the space of a year, has taken a large emotional toll.  With the multiple moves, the turmoil and stress of work, and the death of two dearly loved animal companions, I'm left feeling a bit fractured.

Since I'd retired a few years ago, through all the changes since then, many voids have been opened in my life, and none of them have been closed or filled.  All the losses and changes came close enough on top of each other to leave me feeling overwhelmed and lost.  The effects of everything that's happened have been larger than I realized they would be, and have resulted in my feeling empty and without purpose.  Nothing has given me any real energy for life or a feeling of forward movement until I made the decision to walk The Camino.

A friend recommended a book to me by Sonia Choquette, called "Walking Home."  It was about her experience of walking The Camino, and I was only into the beginning chapters of it when I realized that walking The Camino was the next thing I was being called to do.  As Life would have it, I experienced some synchronous events after making the decision to walk it that confirmed that it was indeed the door that had opened for me:  A friend of mine will be starting the walk with me; and, my current landlord has walked it three times.  So, in September and October, I'll be in Europe walking The Camino de Santiago from St. Jean Pied-de-Port in Southern France, over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain, and across the north of Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

For a couch potato like myself, to put on a backpack and walk such a pilgrimage as The Camino, which is 500 miles, would not have been something I would have thought I'd do, but what do I know?  So, this year, I'll spend my 65th birthday in Spain while walking The Camino.  It's something I'm very excited about doing.  The prospect of doing it is giving me energy and something to look forward to.  And, I finally feel like my life is finding its footing again--pun intended.

I've got everything arranged for The Camino and have what I need to do it.  I've read as many books on it, and watched as many videos, as I'm going to; so, all that's left is to do it.  In the meantime, I enjoy the time I have with my one remaining beloved cat, Sophie.  We've grown much closer now that it's just the two of us.  And, I go to work and do what I do, which is a lot of nothing.  But, no matter what, knowing that The Camino is coming, continues to inspire me.

Some of you know what I've written here and some of you don't.  But, I felt a need to write a post to fill in the big void of not having posted for so long.  And, now I've done that.  I hope to post more often, but I never know when the words will start to form themselves in my mind and ask to be recorded.  When they do, they will appear here.

Deep thanks to all my friends who've been there to support me through all the changes the last few years have brought.  I'm grateful to all of you more than you know.  Thanks as well to all of you who read what I so humbly put forth in these posts.  Thanks to my mother for making me learn how to type when I was very young and had no interest in it, and for which I'm grateful every day.  And, thanks for my ability to write and process the events of my life through words.  Writing is the thing that ultimately gives me purpose, inspires me, and makes me feel useful and of service.  Writing is the thing that brings me peace, and a deep and quiet joy.  And, writing is the thing that brings me into a state of pure, on-my-knees gratitude, which is where I am right now.  Thank you...in all the ways one can say thank you.     

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Negri

My baby girl, Negri, who has been my feline pet companion for the last 15 years, crossed the Rainbow Bridge today and got her wings.

Of course she was not a "baby," but she was always my baby girl.  She was actually a very old soul, very wise and loving.  I rescued her from a shelter when she was around 4 months old.  She was feral and bouncing around in her cage, having a hard time understanding the confinement after spending the beginning of her life outside and free.  It took her a very long time to allow me to touch her, much less pick her up, which she never enjoyed.  She growled over her food and ate very quickly so that no one could take her food away from her.  It took her a long time to stop growling when she ate.  And, I'm not sure she ever truly trusted that no one would take her food away.

She also didn't trust anyone who entered our space.  She would run and hide in the closet at the first sound of anyone approaching.  Someone would have to be around for many hours before Negri might decide to venture forth out of latent curiosity.   This was something that never changed.  She was also afraid that someone might take her away from me.  She was a grateful cat.  She appreciated her life and didn't want it to change.  So, if she hid anytime anyone came near, then they wouldn't see her, and so wouldn't take her away, and she'd be safe.

Her constant anxiety and nervous tension over things I understood and things I didn't, resulted in a stomach and bowel situation that proved worse and worse for her as she aged.  Everything that could be done was done for her, but some things just are, and her digestive system was always a weak one.  Eventually, her body just couldn't continue.

I had many animal communication sessions with Negri over the years.  There's nothing like hearing your animal speak to you about their perceptions and how they see their world.  I always loved hearing what Negri had to say about things.  And, I loved the opportunity to ask her questions and see what she wanted so that I could respond.  If you have an animal companion and have never given yourself and your animal the gift of an animal communication session, you're really missing something wonderful.

I had my last animal communication session with Negri right before she passed.  She told me she was ready to let her body go and that she'd been spending a lot of time out of it lately anyway.  And, as comforting as it is to know that your animal is ready to go, nothing makes the moment of leaving any easier.  It's wrenching.

It is the very crux of this existence for humans, and all living beings on Earth, that we are having a physical experience.  We are Spirit made manifest.  The physical matters, it's what we're here for.  So, even though we know that Life is eternal and that we're never really separated from those we love, the physical separation when a loved one moves on is not an easy adjustment.

There's nothing like being with a loved one, human or animal or otherwise...hearing their voice, or their purr, or their bark, or whatever endearing sounds they might make; feeling their touch, holding them, hugging them, feeling the warmth of their body next to yours, the weight of them; spending time in their presence...all of it is precious and special and unique.  It's something to be treasured and never taken for granted.  This physical experience is a gift, and so is every moment we get to spend with those we love.

So, yes, I know that Negri will still be with me energetically, but I'll miss her presence.  I'll miss her body.  I'll miss her.  And, even though I can sometimes "feel" the energies from different realms of Life, I don't have the ability to communicate with them consciously.  I'll have a sense of Negri, but it will never be the same.

No matter how long we've gotten to spend with a loved one, when they leave and move on to life elsewhere, our life here is forever changed.  I've had two animal companions transition during the last year, and both times my heart has broken at the loss.  They are both deeply missed.  I will never forget either of them and will continue loving them.  They both changed my life...made it richer and more full; brought joy and enjoyment; opened me more deeply to love and to being loved; supported and comforted me; taught me to be more grateful and not to take things for granted.

Every being we love and are loved by increases us, grows us, teaches us, heals us, makes us better and deeper.  I'm so grateful for the love in my life, however it shows up and whatever it looks like.  I'm grateful for everyone and everything that has cracked my heart open wider and wider and taught me about what love is.  I love you forever, Negri!  Fly free my baby girl!