Notes on the Journey

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

More Than Enough

This liminal space between Christmas and New Year feels like a gap in time.  Like I'm between worlds.  If you're aware of numerology, you probably know that 2016 was a "9" year, which means an ending.  And, 2017 is a "1" year, which is a new beginning.  But, it doesn't feel like a normal ending and beginning, it feels like more than that, it has a deeper gravitas to it; not so much like the end of another year, but the end of an era.

I'm feeling some sadness for what has gone, for what will never be the same again, for what is irretrievable; and, some excitement for what's coming, the unknown, the unforeseeable.  I'm grateful for this week of quiet interlude in which to rest and reflect.  Uzes is very tranquil and fewer than usual amounts of people walk the streets.  Most of the restaurants and lots of the shops are closed now.  It's cold and clear and the wind is blowing.  The trees are bare and everything seems like its hibernating.  This is the Uzes I love.

The older I get, the more I love the winter.  When I was young, I loved the sun, the heat and the activity of summer.  Fall has always been my most favorite time of year, but summer held great resonance.  Now, it's fall and winter that speak to me the most.  I enjoy the cold, in a way I didn't when I was younger.  I like the internal nature of winter.  The starkness of it.  The essential bareness.  There is a rhythm of life and seasons that I'm connecting into here that I've been missing for a long, long time.  Modern life, in all its relentlessness, can blind us to the natural rhythms of life.  To find those rhythms, to feel them and flow with them is a great gift.

This move to a new country has required a certain amount of focus and study...new language, new ways of doing things, new people, new everything...and, this much newness takes a lot of energy.  This week I have no classes or anything that has to be done, which is a wonderful relief.  I've spent time with friends and allowed myself to just sit and enjoy the open space of not having to do anything or be anywhere.  I've started to focus some energy in a new direction in terms of my living space.  For those of you who know me well, to say that it feels like time to move again will come as no surprise.  It hasn't been my plan, and it still might not happen, but I'm looking.  After a year in my current space, as much as I love it, things have been revealed that either need to be addressed and amended, or a move needs to happen.  I'm not sure which it will be yet, but looking at some other housing options has been interesting.  I'll stay in Uzes, but am looking for quieter and cooler.

I love to bake.  It's a very relaxing and soothing thing to do.  I just took the last few chocolate snowball cookies out of the oven to cool and the apartment smells delicious.  Laundry is going through its cycles in the washing/drying machine, the sound of which is punctuating the afternoon.  I'm looking forward to cleaning the floor...yes, looking forward to it...weird, I know.  There are days I can't think about the floor, but today I'm looking forward to interacting with it.  Today, I'm feeling grateful to this floor that supports me so beautifully in my life here, and I want it to be clean and shining.  The dust bunnies try to hide themselves in the corners, but they aren't safe for long.

The soft light of mid-winter angles in the windows and shines patterns of brightness on the wall where no art but the art of life makes it mark.  For the first time in many years, my walls remain blank white canvases.  The open space of them invites contemplation and rest.  Sophie, my most beloved cat companion, sleeps on her warm electrical pad that I've recently bought her and slipped into her favorite cat bed on the sofa.  She's barely been off of it since it arrived.  It's so satisfying to give someone a gift they enjoy so much, cat or human.  Today is one of those days when I'm very aware of the simple richness of my life.  Today is a day when gratitude has taken over and pushed everything else aside.  Today my heart is at peace.  Today I'm aware that all is well.  Today the absolute brilliance of Life in all its forms shines upon me, and it's good.  It's enough.  It's more than enough.  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Power of Art

One never knows the vehicle that will transport one to another awareness, or deeper awareness, or release, or transcendental moment.  Tonight, for me, it was a book called "A Sudden Light" by Garth Stein.

I was in the process of reading when I suddenly felt free.  Free, as in unhinged from the normal strictures of my being.  Free from efforting, or trying to be anything, or accomplish anything, or heal anything.  Just free.  I'm in the residual energy of this moment of striking clarity, and so I'm struggling a bit for words.  Because this moment was outside of words.  It was as if the title of the book became a reality for me.  In this moment, in this light, everything was okay.  All the anxiety slipped away.  All the concerns, all the thoughts, all the veils let go.  Everything opened up into this deep expansiveness.  I had no limits.  I was everything and I was nothing.  I just was.

It was like some gear shifted into place and the lock clicked open...in one second.  And, all I was doing was reading.  Yet, I don't want to discount what I was reading or its power.  The character in the book was having a transcendent moment, and it's as if the book transmitted that moment to me.  I have read other books that are transmissions of energy and/or information, although it's more unusual for this type of transmission to be embedded into a novel.  But, that's just it.  We never know where the keys are.  You decide to read a book and your reality changes.  Such is the power of art.  In this case, the art of writing that is so connected, so deeply felt, so authentic, that it has the ability to touch you and change you at a cellular level.

Another work of art that has changed me recently, releasing me from a wound so deep I thought I might never be free of it, is a painting that I've been in relationship with for most of the last year.  When I first saw it, it pierced my heart and brought me to tears.  The vibrant life it held reminded me of the life I had stifled within myself for so long.  I'd go in to the gallery to visit it, even before I bought it, and was always reduced to tears when I saw it.  After I bought it, when I'd go in to make a payment on it, because I'd put it on layaway, and the gallery owner would offer to bring it out to show it to me, I often would turn her down because I knew I would be reduced to tearful incoherence.

While the painting was waiting for me, a friend who reminded me of the person in my past who I felt had inflicted the wound I was unable to resolve, triggered an awareness within me that allowed me to forgive that person.  And, that allowed me to forgive myself for blaming them for something that wasn't their fault, but that had pushed me into a limitation of my own making that had lasted for years.  A pain that had been so all-encompassing that it had shaped my life, suddenly opened up and lifted off.  I was free.  And, the person I had held responsible for my pain and perceived loss for decades was free as well.

After this long-time pain moved through, I no longer cried when I saw my painting.  It no longer pushed me into my pain, because the pain was no longer there.  Now, when I look at my painting, it only gives me joy.  It makes me happy.  When I see the life in it, I feel the life in me.  And, I'm grateful to the painting, and to the artist who painted it, and to all art everywhere.

We're going through a global transformation that will push us to the limit of our endurance.  But, it's an alchemy we must be forged through.  We are in the birth canal, using all our strength to push ourselves into a new way of being.  And, we're going to be in this process for a while, so we're going to have to get used to the pressure.  We're literally reshaping our reality and creating a new world.  No small task, but this is what we came for.  And, one of the things that will help us through it is art.

Art reminds us that there is beauty when we've lost sight of it.  Art lifts us up and helps us see the best that Life has to offer.  Art lets us express the deepest parts of ourselves in ways that heal not only the artist, but the ones who receive the art as well.  Art crosses all boundaries.  It pays no attention to nations or races or religions or to any of the things that separate us.  Art brings us together, opens our hearts and connects us in ways that nothing else can.  It's amazing the power that a song or piece of music has to transport us and inspire us.  Sometimes, all it takes is a look at a photograph or a painting to lift us out of despair.  A few lines of a poem or a good book can touch our soul.

I'm grateful for every person who continues to create art and express themselves in a way that lifts us all up.  I'm grateful that artists are able to imagine and create in ways that are able to set us all free.  I'm grateful that artists can see into the essence of things and bring them into being in the world in a way that benefits us all.  I'm grateful to every person who lives their life as a connected whole, whose life is art itself.  Each and every person who is able to live life in this way is an inspiration to all of us and lifts us all up by their example.

I know there's a lot going on in the world right now that is hard to make sense of.  But, there is also beauty and kindness and compassion and understanding.  There is love.  And, there is love incarnate, which is art, however it shows up...in a person, in a painting, in a song, in a book, in a dance, in a look, in a touch, in a leaf, in a snowflake, in a wave.  The ways of love and art are endless.  Love and art are always expressing.  And, all we have to do is open to receive and perceive them.

My heart has been breaking over and over and over, day after day after day recently.  It has been pummeled and cracked and worn away and smashed into mush.  But, maybe that's what I needed to be able to open it, to be able to let the hardened parts of it be chipped away, to be able to feel the pain that has kept it closed for too long.  An open heart, and the inherent vulnerability that comes with it, is not comfortable when one is used to numerous layers of hardened protection.  But, for Life to be able to flow through us unobstructed, the protection has to go at some point.  Life has been brutally cracking me open lately, and I'm on my knees in gratitude.  Sometimes it's "A Sudden Light," and sometimes it's a long-time-coming light, but however the light comes to us is exactly the way we need it.  Hallelujah.            

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

And Now, It Begins

I found out this morning that Trump had won the presidential election in the US through an email from a friend.  I immediately felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  I got suddenly nauseous as adrenaline moved through my system.  I wanted to deny that it was the truth.  I wanted to think that my friend was mistaken.  We love our delusions.  I didn't want to admit that the bubble had burst.  Burst completely wide open.  But, no matter what I'd like to hold on to, life as we've known it is done.  We have been launched into a period of transformation and transmutation that would seem to be the Armageddon that has been talked about for eons.  We have reached the final confrontation of light versus dark.  It is now in stark relief.  But, that's the point.  We are shocked.  The blinders have been ripped off.  The shadow just punched us in the face...hard.

As the initial rush of adrenaline fades and moves through my system, sadness takes over and I allow myself to cry tears of bitter disappointment.  I didn't think Brexit could happen.  And, I didn't think Trump could be elected President.  But, the rose-colored glasses had to come off at some point.  Right now, I'm feeling a bit daunted by what I know is going to be required of us in the four years to come.  I'll get over myself.

I'm on the older side of things.  I've been digging deep my whole life, working to transform myself and transmute my shadows.  I'm tired.  But, I know I can only allow myself the briefest bit of rest.  I've been feeling that I'm only just now starting to really come into my own.  I've been feeling that I'm only just now starting to walk into the deeper purpose for which I came to this planet at this time.  I've been feeling grateful for all the personal, internal work I've done previous to this moment in the knowing that it has prepared me for what will be required of me in the now.  And yet, the shock of today has not moved through yet.  I've not stabilized from the stunning realization of a Trump presidency and what that means for all of us.  But, tomorrow is another day.

What I know, beneath the tiredness and the shock, is that I will rise to the occasion.  We all will.  We will all recover ourselves and stabilize.  We will pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off.  We will join together.  We will do what needs to be done.  The best in all of us will prevail.  We're going to be called upon to rise up in ways we could never have imagined.  And, we will rise.  We're going to be called upon to be strong.  And, we will be strong.  We're going to be pushed to the limits of our stamina and focus, but we will dig deep and roll up our sleeves and do what we came here to do.  For many of us, this is what we've been preparing for.  We're just entering the birth canal.  It's going to take us four years to get through it, and we're going to be asked to be more than we ever thought we could be, but we're going to birth ourselves into something better and brighter as we come out on the other side.  Breathe.

Difficult times bring out the best in us.  It is in difficult times that we are called upon to rise up and be the best that we can be.  It is in difficult times that we find our strength and our courage.  It is in difficult times that we find out who we are and what we're made of.  We are heading into such difficult times.  It's going to take everything we have to turn this crazy runaway train around, but we will do it.  We are up to the task.  Yes.  We are.

As I read on Facebook recently--and I apologize for not remembering who said it--we are in an Evolution, not a Revolution.  Things must change, but not in the way they've changed before.  This time, we must walk the path of the heart.  Violence is not what we want.  Confrontation and resistance is not going to get it done.  This time, it's the feminine joined with the masculine.  This time it's going to look different than anything we've seen throughout our historical past.  Trump, and everyone who voted for him, are standing in the mirror of our shadow so that we can see it in undeniable form.  We have to see it so that we can own all of what is being imaged for us.  So that we can accept it within ourselves.  So that we can love it free and integrate it into our wholeness.  As Matt Licata would say, we need to slow down, slow way down, and get deeply, quietly curious about what's showing itself to us.

Our nation is soul sick because we've been in denial for too long.  It needs all the love we can muster so that we can see our way forward.  This is not a time of division and separation and isolation.  This is a time of coming together and union and compassion.  And, we are going to find our way.  We are going to reshape things and find solutions that work for everyone.  We are going to work even harder to protect our planet, because we have to.  I don't know why humans seem to need to be pushed to the brink before we jump into action and pull ourselves back.  Maybe it's our seeming love of drama and the excitement of a last minute save.  But, whatever the reason, we're here.  And, we're going to pull it out.

Take a day to mourn and wallow around and scream and rage.  Let it all move through.  And, try not to project it onto everyone and everything around you.  But, tomorrow, we need you.  We need your heart.  We need your prayers.  We need your good deeds.  We need your strength.  We need your perseverance.  We need your truth.  We need your engagement.  We need you to show up in the best way possible.  How each of us is going to be asked to show up will vary.  But, we'll know it when we see it.  Some of us will speak out and say the things that others are not able to say.  Some of us will notice things that not everyone sees.  Some of us will pray without ceasing and be the container for all that needs to happen.  Some of us will be the feet on the ground.  Some of us will protect the children and animals.  Some of us will run for office.  There are endless ways that each and every one of us will be inspired to act, and all of us will merge together to bring about the world we know it's possible to create.  Together.

We've received the invitation.  Show up.  Rise up.  Lift up.  We can do this.  This is what we came for.  This is our work.  All of us are needed.  All is well.


Friday, November 4, 2016

The Sacred Service of Standing Rock

Those of us who came into the planet with what we now refer to as The Baby Boom, I call The Transition Team.  But, I'm now realizing that we were only the first of what will end up being a number of Transition Teams.  We came in to shake things up, to shake them loose, to initiate change, to crack it open.  I was 18 in 1968 and can only say how grateful I am that I got to be on the planet at that time and be old enough to be involved in the initiation of change that we brought about.

For my generation, there were extremes of expression that contributed to the cracks in the system we needed to create.  There were the militant ones who were very vocal, and sometimes violent, but whose voices were so needed in the equation.  We needed those who were able to express the anger and repression that we'd collectively experienced for eons.  We needed to hear the issues spoken out loud that were up for all of us.  We needed those who channeled the collective anger and got things moving.  And then, there was the other end of the equation with the "hippie" movement that initiated a big shove toward the idea that love was the answer and that it was important to "get back to the garden."  As active as some of my generation have been, it's now time for a new Transition Team to shake things up in a different way.  And, apart from shaking things up, the now generation also has solutions to bring to the table that weren't able to be put into play previously.  Because of what we did, they're ahead of where we started and will take us further forward in the direction we need to go collectively.

Standing Rock is part of this process.  My 3X great grandfather was Ochinee, a sub-chief of the Southern Cheyenne tribe, and he was killed in the massacre at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864.  I'm very activated by what's going on at Standing Rock right now.  Not only because I feel my DNA stirring, but because of the deep wound it brings up for all of us in terms of how we've collectively treated Native Americans since the beginning of our country.  The USA is founded on the genocide of Native Americans...because the immigrants wanted what they had; wanted to live where they lived; wanted to own land which, to the Native Americans, was impossible to own; and, who were driven by greed and wanted to profit from the land instead of care for it.  Those who came to this continent pushed the Native Americans back as they marched forward from the East Coast to the West Coast, agreed to treaties they never honored, and slaughtered and marginalized the native people.  These issues are not gone.  All of this is alive and continuing today and being brought into the collective consciousness through the events at Standing Rock.

I think there is a collective agreement in place with all the souls involved at Standing Rock to play out these issues for the benefit of the awareness it brings to all of us.  There are centuries of abuse and trauma being enacted yet again, only this time on a world stage with global awareness.  Only this time, we're all involved.  Only this time, we get to choose to handle it differently.  Even President Obama, in his detachment and concern for the monied interests, is playing his part.  The choice he's made to "let it all play out over the next couple of weeks" is made from the same mindset that the powers that be have had in regard to those on the front lines in conflict after conflict.  The idea that the harm that is happening to those involved is less important than rerouting a pipeline that should never have been built is the mindset we're in the process of changing.

Things have to be shaken up.  Some people need to yell and confront.  Some people need to pray and act as containers.  Some people need to sweat and smudge and purify.  Everyone at Standing Rock, on both sides, is fulfilling a very sacred purpose for all of us.  These roles must be played out for all of us to see so we can come into awareness about the issues and energetics we still carry that these events are embodying.  No matter who you relate to in this conflict, or where you are in how you feel about it, we're all being healed by it in the long run.  No matter how little things look like they're moving around it, they are moving.  Minds are being affected, hearts are being affected.  Some people, on the military side of the equation, have quit their jobs because they are refusing to perpetrate atrocities in the name of greed.  Movement is happening.

Vibrationally, things need to get stirred up.  This type of event, such as Standing Rock, starts the vibrational resonance that builds and results in real and deep change.  As upsetting as it can be...and, believe me, I'm one of those people who's intensely upset and affected by what's going on there...it's performing an important service.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are also serving us.  I'm the last person who wants Donald Trump as president, but he's bringing up and initiating vibrational change in regard to a number of issues that would otherwise have stayed suppressed.  Life has chosen a very good change agent.  Because of Donald Trump's inability to act in a civilized manner, he's been a continuous well of richness in terms of all the issues he's activated.  Because of him, women are joining forces and saying "no more."  Because of him, we're looking at our election process and seeing that reforms are sorely needed.  Because of him, we're looking at armament, financials, violence, racism, xenophobia, bullying, irresponsibility and obstructionism in government, and the list goes on.

Hillary Clinton is also serving in another way.  She's bringing up issues of integrity, female power, greed, corporate investment, using political office for personal gain, and again, the list goes on.  Both of our current candidates are perfect for the time, as uncomfortable as they both make us in different ways.  Without either of them, we wouldn't have the chance we are currently being given to look at all the issues they both bring to the fore.  For those who pray, endless prayers are needed for all the players now on the world stage of awakening, on both sides of whatever situation you might be aware of or involved in.

It is my feeling that we have some years ahead of us to become aware of the issues that have been sleeping and to wake them up and move through them.  But, I feel that in about 4 years, we'll start to see things tip in a way that will allow us all to move forward differently.  We have to be strong in this interim period of transition.  Those of us who can, need to hold the pole of where we're headed collectively and form a compassionate container for all the change that needs to and will be taking place.  It is not an easy task to balance all the chaos and confusion that this type of monumental collective change requires.  It is not an easy task to witness and be present for all the horror that is taking place.  But, the darkness has to be seen.  The darkness has to be owned, integrated, accepted and loved free.  This is exactly what so many of us came into the planet to do.  This is our work.  We were born to do this.

I have personally, just within the last week, finally come into an awareness of things I've been holding and hiding from and suppressing for most of my life.  Things are moving that I wasn't sure were ever going to show themselves in a way I could understand and own.  My heart is opening in ways I could only have hoped for previously, because it is getting broken day after day after day.  I'm getting worn down.  The type of pounding we've been experiencing, in the election and in numerous other worldwide events, is necessary in order to wear us down, to wear away the resistance we have to all of what we need to see.  Even though it's not easy or comfortable or pleasant to confront, all the issues we see in the world exist in each one of us personally.  They're different for each of us.  We all get triggered by different things.  We're all involved in or aware of different issues and situations.  But, for all of us, in whatever way it's showing up, we're being given a golden opportunity to move through a huge backlog of misperceptions, constrictions, resistances and limitations.  We're being given an opportunity to leap forward in a quantum way.  And, even though this type of vast and substantial change might be challenging, it is a gift of immense proportion.

What's needed?  Notice where you're triggered and what's being brought up for review.  Notice what you're feeling drawn to in terms of where you feel you might be of benefit.  Witness what's happening with compassion for all involved.  Do whatever you feel drawn to do to help balance the energies at play.  Be present to what's happening without numbing to it.  Pray, do ceremony, create rituals, form groups, discuss, be curious, engage.  Each of us will have to discover the ways that work best for us.  Each of us will be called upon to confront our own issues in our own ways.  Each of us will change and transform in ways we can't even imagine right now.  Step up when you're called to and in whatever way you're called to do it.

The Native Americans at Standing Rock are serving as a wonderful example in terms of how they are dealing with the violence and imperialism and greed they are being faced with.  They are being peaceful and relying on prayer.  They are dealing with the issues at play in a deeply sacred way.  They are embodying principles for all of us to be inspired by and to follow.  They are sacrificing themselves on the altar of collective change and awakening.  Honor them for their amazing service.  Honor them for their personal sacrifice.  Honor them for what they've held for all of us for time immemorial.  Honor them for their strength and courage.  And, honor the perpetrators of violence as well, because without that pole being held, this mirror couldn't exist.

We're going to see amazing and wondrous change in the next few years.  We're going to be called upon to step up in ways that many of us won't see coming.  To use a term that Glennon Doyle Melton coined, we're all "Love Warriors."  We came in to play this out.  We came in to heal ourselves and our planet.  It might look dark right now, but it's true that it always looks darkest right before a breakthrough.  We're on our way to a breakthrough.  And, we're going to make it.  We've taken everything to the brink, but we're not going to go over.  We're going to pull it back.  We just need to keep going.  Hang in there.  Trust the process.  All is well.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Time to Turn it Around

I just watched a documentary on YouTube called "The Burning Times."  It's an important film for anyone who would like to understand how the misogynistic society we now live in came to be.  And, the first step toward changing something, is to understand it as deeply as possible.  Ignorance is not bliss.  Ignorance and denial only perpetuate the continuance of ignorance and denial.  It's time to climb out of that rabbit hole.

Many of us lament the current state of things and wonder how we got here.  There are reasons, and all of them are based in fear.  Fear of the thing that is unknown or different.  Fear of an idea.  Fear of being wrong.  Fear of not having enough.  The list goes on and on.  Fear has managed to gain quite a strong foothold.

The mystical, from which Christianity arose, and from which all organized religion has arisen, has been desired and feared and misunderstood by the majority.  Those who have mystical experiences and then try to explain them to others, have often misconstrued and mistranslated such events.  Or, the consciousness of the one who has the mystical experience, is different enough from those around them that, no matter the language they choose to use, they are bound to be misunderstood.  We can not bottle mysticism, it is individual to each of us in ways that are very personal.  We can only teach or share that which is of personal value to us, which doesn't mean that it will be of value to another, or that another will be able to understand it or put it into practice and get the same result that we have gotten.  And, real mysticism is alive and growing and changing all the time.  Real mysticism is of the now and connected into Life as we live it day by day.

Those who want what the mystic has had--a connection to and experience of the Divine--will often attempt to organize the experience into steps that are achievable for others to follow.  We try to make rules for the mystical.  Ten Steps to Happiness, The Five Things That Will Bring You Peace, Keys to Success, etc...these are not real book or video titles, they are titles I've made up to make a point, that we're still trying to capsulize what is essentially an individual experience.  And, once enough people believe our version of "how to get there," then anyone who tries another way, or believes another way, is often made wrong.  Such is the way organized religions begin.

We're coming up to the time of Samhain, All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as most of us now call it.  Many will choose to pretend to be witches when they dress themselves for Halloween.  Many children will be frightened, yet again, by people costumed as witches, pretending to cast evil spells on those around them.  This interpretation of a witch comes out of the Inquisition.  It is misogynistic, and creates a negative connotation of women based out of fear of women's inherent connection to the Earth and to Life.  And, however innocently, continues fear and misogyny for generation after generation.

Witches were, historically, those who were connected to the Earth and to the Divine.  They understood the laws of nature.  They used herbs for healing.  They birthed babies and tended the sick.  They comforted and served those of their tribes.  They were wise and were honored for their wisdom.  At the time when witches were honored as wise members of the tribe, the tribe was more connected to the Earth in general and followed the seasons, and lived by the natural cycles of Life.  Their rituals and traditions arose out of the organic celebration and honoring of their connection to the life they were living.  Sacredness was connected to all of Life.

Christianity has historically brought about more death and destruction than possibly any other belief system.  As it has been co-opted by those who want power over others, who are afraid of belief systems different from their own, and who seem to want absolute control over those within their domain, it has turned into a vehicle of limitation and abuse, especially of the feminine.  Yes, there are those, in spite of everything, who have found the Divine through Christianity.  And, we have much to be thankful for because of Christianity and what it has wrought.  But, it is necessary to look at and accept the wholeness of its influence, which includes many horrific things done in its name and the name of the one who inspired it.

As we need to see and accept all aspects of ourselves in order to be whole and free human beings, so we also need to see and accept all aspects of our institutions and belief systems.  In the same way that personal shadows control us, historical and institutional shadows control us in a larger sense.  If we are not able to look at the horror of our past, and accept and understand what has caused us to be truly evil to one another, then the horrific behavior will continue.  What are the fears and misconceptions that drive us to abuse and kill each other today?  Why, when we know better, do we continue to abuse our Earth and all of the species who inhabit her?  Why are some people driven by a lust of power and greed that is insatiable?  The answers to these questions lie within each of us and are individual.  But, they also lie within our societies and our collective histories, and must be addressed by all of us together.

How do we do this?  We do it by being open to each other and communicating honestly.  We do it by being curious of our differences and by being desirous to learn from them.  We do it by finding our own authenticity and then by sharing it through our vulnerability and willingness to reveal ourselves to each other.  We do it by lifting each other up instead of trying to control each other.  We do it by listening to each other and honoring each others' experience and perceptions.  We do it by agreeing to disagree and by allowing each other to live freely.  We do it by celebrating Life and its seasons instead of trying to control them and frightening each other because of it.  We do it by walking into the unknown and expanding ourselves instead of shutting down in the face of it.  We do it by being polite with each other and treating each other with respect.  We do it by remembering that we are all one and that we each carry the hearts of our brothers and sisters in our hands.  We do it by each act of kindness, understanding and compassion we are able to give each other in every moment.

We've all seen and experienced enough horror to last many generations.  It's time to say no more.  It's time to say enough to fear and death and destruction.  It's time to turn this runaway train around and take back the connection and sanctity of our lives.  Let's do what we can, each and every one of us, so that we can look at our world and not lament "how did we get here?"  But, so that we can look at our world and be proud of what we've created.

Our governments, our corporations, our institutions and belief systems are us.  They are not separate from us.  Things are the way they are because we've made them that way, or allowed them to be that way.  It's up to each one of us to create the world we want.  It's time to stop complaining and get busy.  It's time to grow up and accept responsibility.  It's time to stop blaming others and expecting someone else to do what needs to be done.  It has obviously taken the state of things the way they are to wake us up.  But, now we've got to get out of bed and get moving.  We are on the abyss.  No one will save us but ourselves.  We can do this.  We were born for this.  It is our destiny.      

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Great Love Affair

I listened to the recording of a channeling of Martin Luther King, Jr. from March 2007 by Michele Mayama of www.lightsmith.com yesterday.  I found it most inspiring.  His gift of power, authenticity, and inspiration are still alive through the words he speaks even though he's no longer embodied on this planet.

There were two things he said in this recording that especially touched me.  The first was that the dynamic of slavery exists throughout the cosmos.  It's not something that humans on Earth thought up, it's something that was brought here and has been practiced in many other places and in many other life systems.  The second was that Earth was born out of a great love affair!

In regard to the first point, of slavery not being unique to Earth, I realized the far-reaching importance of healing that dynamic.  Because, by healing it here, and fully realizing the oneness of all Life, and the equality of all souls, and choosing against the enslavement of any being--human or otherwise--we would contribute to the healing of slavery throughout the cosmos.

But, it was in regard to the second point, that Earth was born out of a great love affair, that truly rocked my world.  Many of us acknowledge and are aware of the fact that Earth, or Gaia as many of us call her, is a living being.  But, I had not taken that awareness farther into the wholeness of what it means in the context of our larger reality.

Two beings, two energies--or maybe more than two?--came together in great love; and the Life that came out of that communion was Gaia.  Why Life would be created any differently in the larger sense than it is in the human sense had just never occurred to me.  But, it brought home to me in a way that I had not realized before, the oneness of all Life.  It's difficult to articulate the impact this statement had on me.  When I heard it, I had to stop the recording and just sit with the statement.  I sobbed as I processed it into the deeper levels of my being.  I'm still processing it.  I might have more to say about it later, but for now, I wanted to share it with everyone.

I heard the Martin Luther King, Jr. channeling 9 years ago, when it was first recorded, but I don't remember hearing this statement about love at that time.  Obviously, I wasn't ready to receive it then.  And, I'm most grateful to have been given the chance to listen to the recording again now, so that I could receive the gift that this statement of love carries for me.

Our bodies are small and human.  But, other bodies are large and the size of a planet, or a solar system, or a galaxy, or something else of which we have no concept.  And, Life loves, whatever its body looks like and however it takes its expression.  And, more Life comes out of great love.  Love births Life.  And, Life is the expression of love.  There can be no Life without love, because love is the essence of Life.  I need to come up with new vocabulary to express what has opened for me.  Just as we need to create new systems by which we live together on Gaia, we need to create new words to express our continuously expanding awareness.

The Earth was born out of a great love affair.  Yes.  And, that love surrounds her still, and those of us who live in, on and with her.  She is made of love, as are we.  It is the essence of who we are.  It is what breathes us and lives us and expresses through us.  Love is not an action.   Love is.

 


Monday, July 4, 2016

Let Freedom Reign

Today is Independence Day in the United States.  A day in which we celebrate the reality and concept of freedom.

Our country was formed in an effort to allow people to be able to practice their religion and spiritual beliefs without fear of persecution.  Those who started this new country wanted to be sovereign over themselves and not under the rule of a person or class that had more and wielded power over others, often not in their best interests.  In order to obtain the freedom that was so highly desired, it was eventually necessary to break away from the structure of society that had ruled up until that point.

The United States, by taking its freedom from the United Kingdom, said "no" to the class system, based in birth.  A system that prohibited anyone born outside of it to rise to their highest potential, and to be accepted for who they were and not to whom they were born.  This was a radical departure.  Although one that had to happen to break the chain of power over others.

It is specifically because of the fact that anyone in the United States is able to rise to their highest potential in freedom, that has inspired so many all over the globe.  And, it is my fervent hope that the United States is able to remain a beacon for freedom and creativity and open-hearted acceptance of all those who come to her desiring a better life for themselves and their families.

Many of us seem to have forgotten the principles upon which our nation was founded...freedom of choice and the equality of all men and women.  We are a nation of immigrants, and our diversity has been one of our strengths.  A large number of us have grown afraid and want to limit the very diversity that has made us strong.  We have started to believe in lack and limitation; in the idea that there's not enough to go around.  But, in reality, there is more than enough for everyone.

Right now, things are out of balance.  A small percentage of people at the top of the economic chain have managed to gain control of the lion's share of resources.  And, in the process, have convinced those from whom they've taken their advantage that they're too small and powerless to fight back.  We have a capitalist system based in slavery of the masses that continues to this day.

Democracy and capitalism have been valuable tools for a certain time.  But, times are changing and new systems and ways of being need to be called forth.  The old systems are corrupt and crumbling, and it is up to us to create new ones that work better.  We must not be afraid of the change that is needed in order to maintain our freedom and the ability to manifest our highest potential.  We can not give ourselves and our country and our lives over to those who have the most money, or the most power.  It is time to remember the values upon which our nation was founded and fulfill them once again.  We must be the Phoenix and rise from the ashes of the past and what is clearly not working any longer.

Freedom is a big responsibility.  Taking full responsibility for ourselves and our creations is not as easy as allowing others to have power over us, but it is much more satisfying and fulfilling.  It is much more exciting.  The time of power over others is done.  We are now in the time of creating together, collectively.  We must remember that each soul is precious and has a valuable contribution to make, and create a society that allows that contribution to be realized and received.  We must embody the foundations and concepts upon which our nation was built, and reclaim the freedom that is the right of all life on this planet.

We are becoming a global community.  There is no denying this or resisting it.  It is the reality.  It is what we've created.  Now is the time to start realizing that there are no borders and boundaries other than the ones we make.  We are all members of this global community of Earth.  There is enough for all of us, more than enough.  If all the money was being used and circulated for the benefit of all the people, prosperity and opportunity would exist for everyone.  The answers lie in the collective contributions of all of us.  There are solutions, right now, to all the problems we are facing.  And, we are facing problems of such global magnitude that it will take all of us together to solve them, but the solutions are there.

I was devastated by the Brexit vote of the UK to leave the EU.   It is a last gasp of fear and contraction that will negatively affect so many.  But, it is also a wake-up call to the rest of us to not allow fear to be the controlling factor.  We are in a time when borders need to be opening and free movement on a global scale needs to be implemented.  We need to transform our identities within a national structure to expand into a global structure.  We need to acknowledge and accept all Life, in its myriad forms, as part of our community.  We need to value and support each other in being the best we can be.  We can not shrink from what is before us and retreat into fear.  We must rise to meet the challenges we are facing together.

We can do this.  We came here to do this.  By transforming our current out-dated system of "capitalism based in slavery"* to one that supports and encourages each of us to be our best, we will have healed a deep wound that exists throughout the cosmos.  Let's rise together and let freedom reign!

*The words in quotes were taken from a channeling of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Michele Mayama from March of 2007 and which can be found on www.lightsmith.com

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Integrating Change

I posted on Facebook prior to writing a blog post about the interview to which the link above takes you.  I was so touched by the interview, and so grateful for the information it contains, that I wanted to immediately get the link onto Facebook before even taking time to write the blog.  So, some of this post will have been read by those of you who've seen my Facebook post, but I do expand on it here.

I wrote the following to accompany the link on my Facebook post:

"The link posted here is to an interview that Rob Bell did with Alexander Shaia that is incredibly valuable and explanatory for how we feel after having gone through a life-changing experience or growth period. We often struggle in the aftermath of a personal expansion, and this interview talks about the effect of the growth, what it calls us to, and how to move into it. I wasn't aware of Alexander Shaia prior to listening to this interview, but I will now mine his work for the jewels it holds.
"We each walk the Hero's Journey, whether we think of it that way or not. There is this inherent rhythm of the Hero's Journey that we all live, no matter what the externals of our life look like. And, the point of that journey where we often get stuck, is what to do with our ourselves after the "peak experience." How do we integrate what we've been through? Who are we after what we've been through? How do we move forward in a way that encompasses what we've learned? And, how do we use what we've learned or become to benefit others and be of service to the whole?
"Each of these questions must be individually answered. And, the very uncomfortable period of change that the growth experience has triggered must be walked through until a new place of being is reached. And, this interview talks about this process in a way that I found extremely helpful."

I've had many growth experiences and peak experiences in my life, and the hard part is always how to integrate them and live from them after the fact.  Most recently, I walked The Camino--which Alexander Shaia has done twice--and then I moved to France.  It is a big topic of discussion among the Pilgrim community what one does after one gets back from pilgrimage.  I feel that my gypsy life of film production and travel has prepared me maybe better than most for the post-peak-experience time, but that doesn't mean it's ever an easy adjustment.

Every film I ever did, every trip I ever took, was a growth experience.  Each film and travel experience was a vehicle of change, awareness and expansion.  And, as Alexander Shaia mentions in the interview, the deeper the change we go through, the more challenging the integration of the experience can be.  I would go away on location to work on a film and be excited by the prospects of what that film and the experience of working on it would hold.  And, I would come back a different person, every time.  How to take up the details of the life that was left to go have the experience, and how to integrate who I had become through the experience, was always challenging and often confusing.

As we change, our vibration changes.  This is science.  But, the vibration of what we left behind when we go out to have an experience stays the same.  When we return, there is a necessary "tuning" of vibration so that we can re-align with our environment and our friends and family.  I've found it personally helpful to energetically work with my previous environment prior to my return so that a lot of the tuning that needs to take place has already happened when I get home.  Upon my return, I would also go through a period of deep cleaning and re-organizing of my immediate environment.  This process helped to imprint my new energy in the space, clear out the energy that was no longer in alignment, and re-ground myself.  And, because my energy had changed, things that I formerly aligned with, had to be purged and moved out.

A really important point for me that Alexander Shaia makes in his interview is that the growth experience doesn't necessarily give us answers, but rather it gives us energy and inspiration.  And, that after the growth experience, we go through a period of "in between" as we traverse the territory of where we were to where we are now and to where we are going.  This in between is where we can often get off track, or think we've lost what we gained through our growth experience.  But, understanding that the in between is the period of time during which we integrate what happened, and utilize the energy we gained through the experience to embody our next step, makes it more bearable and less confusing and disorienting.

The final step in the journey, the way Alexander Shaia explains it, is then taking what we've learned through our growth experience and sharing it in a way of service to the whole.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Are we able to take what we've learned and apply it in a way that helps the collective?  Are we able to embody what we've learned and live our lives as an expression of it in actual application?  That does not mean that the expression has to take the shape of Earth-shattering impact.  Although, if the expression is one of more kindness, or more understanding, or more acceptance, or more compassion, or more love...these actually are Earth-shattering in their impact.

To be able to live from the new place we've discovered in a way that uplifts and benefits all those with whom we come into contact is an immense gift.  To be able to integrate our experiences and then live them in the day-to-day of life is a contribution of unlimited value.  An open heart, a kind word, a moment of human understanding, a hand offered in assistance...these are the things that can change lives.  Living in the integrity of what we've learned grows us and all those around us.

None of us are here solely for ourselves and our own enrichment, but for the enrichment of the whole of Life.  We are each connected to each other in ways deeper than it's possible for our human minds to comprehend.  The same Life that lives one of us, lives all of us.  And, every step we make for ourselves, we make for all of humanity and for all Life everywhere.  No progress is small progress.  Every step forward on any level is of immense value to us all.  Nothing happens in a vacuum.  Everything we go through, everything we do, affects all of Life.  We are all Bodhisattvas.

Life is a progression of one growth experience after another.  May we all receive, integrate and embody our lives in a way that benefits all Life and allows us to live in integrity and a deeper connection to all creation.  Embrace the experience, the difference, the in between, and the new territory that's been opened.  Embrace the change it brings...no matter what it looks like or what kind of chaos it entails.  Change can be frightening, but it's also exciting.  Change always brings new Life and is inherent in all growth experiences.  It is our openness to the change that is wrought that determines whether we end up struggling or moving forward.  Our ability to receive the gift of what each day brings without resistance is what facilitates our growth, integration, and embodiment.

It is my hope for all of us that we grow and change and gift ourselves to all of Life without hesitation.  We are each a gift to each other, no matter who we are or what we carry or what our perspective might be.  We each have things to learn and things to teach.  It is an honor to be here with all of you.   

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

An Unexpected Gift of Grace

I was standing in my kitchen looking out the window and I had the sudden realization that I was no longer trying to “make it.”  What a relief.  What a burden to lay down.

I’ve been driven for my whole life.  I’ve always been trying to “make it,” always been trying to be more, better, thinner, liked, accepted, right, correct…something.  There have been brief periods of rest when the striving took a break, but it was never gone for long and would always resume.  And, in the background, there was always an engine running.  This kind of efforting to be more, or to be perfect—whatever that means—drives a lot of us but, for me, it came out of my orphan beginnings.

I always knew I was adopted.  My parents told me from the time I began to ask where I came from.  They never wanted me to be surprised by it later in life.  But, somehow it created a fear in me that they might send me back; that, if I wasn’t good enough, I might lose my family.  If I wasn’t the perfect little girl I might not be loved.  If I didn’t do what I was told, maybe they wouldn’t let me stay.  If I was too loud, I might have to leave.  These types of concerns have shadowed all my relationships, my performance at work, and the way I look at the world.

I was talking with my hairdresser in San Diego one day, while she was cutting my hair, about trying to make ends meet and finding work when one was older.  I’d been retired for a couple of years by then and was working part-time and she was in the process of losing a job she’d had for a long time and liked.  We were both struggling.  And, she said to me, “Here we are at this age and still trying to make it.”  Whoa…  I’d never thought of my life like that, but the realization of what she said landed on me very heavily.

When one is constantly striving and struggling the way I did, it rather precludes presence or gratitude.  I had moments of both presence and gratitude throughout my life, but they were always visited upon me by grace and short-lived.  There was a constant dissatisfaction and depression driving me forward.  I was never good enough.  I never did enough.  I never felt secure.  I never really belonged.

But, now, almost four years after I retired, and four months after moving to France, I realize that the striving is done.  The need to “make it” in any way is gone.  My need to prove myself has left me.  I’m fine the way I am.  Life is good and all is well.  I’m able to live my life one day at a time and enjoy each one.  I no longer feel inadequate.  Amazing.

I didn’t actively do anything to stop myself from striving.  It is a gift of grace, an unexpected awareness, a surprising internal shift.  I do think it has been facilitated by the quiet simplicity of my life, by the smallness of the village where I live, by my increased connection to nature, and by the kind acceptance of my neighbors and friends here.  Something in me has settled by moving here and choosing this for myself.  The voice of restless dissatisfaction has finally become silent.

I make no conclusions or judgments about this awareness, I’m just grateful.  Grateful for the quiet.  Grateful for the peace.  Grateful. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Crossroads

It is so disheartening to hear of yet more terrorist attacks today in Brussels.  When will the hate stop?  When will the idea that terror and killing helps anything be realized to be false?  When will we be able to accept each other and our differences without acting out violently in opposition?

At this point in time, I think prejudice and fear are more based in economics than anything else.  How long do we think a nation or culture can be suppressed or marginalized or utilized without resentment and hatred building?  I don't condone violence for any reason.  I think there is always another way.  But, lack of education and economic opportunity breed desperation, and desperation often turns to violence.

I don't believe the terrorist acts we now witness in our world are based in religious differences.  I believe that they are born out of desperation and feelings of helplessness in an effort to gain some small amount of power; even if that miniscule moment of power comes at the sacrifice of their own or another's life.  I find it tragically sad that those who perpetrate these acts of terror feel their only solution lies in death and destruction.  And, that their only means of being seen lie in terror, suicide and murder.

It's a sad statement for all of us.  Because, these terrorists are us.  They are not separate from the rest of us.  They are lost and filled with rage and disconnected, but they are still part of the humanity of this planet.  We need to collectively find a way to communicate with these people and truly see them and hear them.  Our fear of them is such that we want nothing to do with them, which is the crux of the matter.  They need to be seen and heard and responded to in a neutral way.

I'm not saying that there don't need to be consequences for this type of acting out in violence.  There must be consequences.  But, in order to stop its continuance, we have to look to other ways than how we've been dealing with it up until now.  I don't think sane, balanced people plan and execute terrorist attacks, or commit murder.  Which means these people are soul sick and need attention and assistance.

Where does the level of helplessness and rage come from that would cause someone in a position of leadership to encourage his or her people to violence?  How did the disconnection and desperation develop within a particular culture that has now resulted in so much death and destruction?  I personally feel that these acts are an extreme cry to be seen and heard.  They are an extreme lashing out at a society that they feel has marginalized them and ignored them and denied them opportunity.

We can not overlook the terrorist acts that have happened, nor can we excuse those who've perpetrated them, but we can open our hearts in compassion for what has caused them to happen.  We can dig deep and find the love within ourselves that will allow us to see and hear those who have reached a place of such desperation.  Some of these people might be too entrenched in their positions to be reached, which is a tragedy of major proportion.  But, there are many behind them who are able to respond rationally and reconnect.  Yet, in order to reach into this culture of violence, we need to make a real effort to understand their position, acknowledge their point of view, and work toward a solution that creates peace.

Peace will require forgiveness on both sides of the equation.  If opening to each other, listening to each other, and forgiving each other are not possible, violence will continue.  But, we have to start somewhere.  We have to do what's necessary to bridge the gap.  We have to see and honor and understand each other and accept our differences.  We have to learn to appreciate our diversity instead of fearing it.  Just because any one of us believes a certain way, doesn't mean that we all have to agree.  We can agree to disagree.  We can keep working to reach a neutral stance.  But, the violence must be stopped.

This applies to those in any culture.  It applies to Donald Trump, and all of those he encourages to violence, as much as it does to those in any other culture we've become accustomed to blaming.  None of us are innocent.  This type of global problem, that is manifesting in all cultures, is a collective problem that we all need to take responsibility for and address in whatever way we can.

Why do people respond to a person who encourages violence and separation and prejudice and persecution?  Because that person encapsulates their fear, and they're acting out in reaction to it.  Because they are lost and don't know any other way to deal with their feelings of helplessness.  We are at a crossroads.  And, we need to make some important choices.  Do we go for fear, hate and separation?  Or, do we go for love, compassion and understanding?

The choice is ours in every day and every moment and every instance of interaction.  How do you want to create your world?  What is your vision?  Dig deep.  Think about it.    

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Feeling It All

I'm sad today, for no apparent or logical reason.  Tears fall, just because they want to.  The weather agrees with me and is gray and rainy.  It's just one of those days.  I'm grateful it's not sunny.  It feels good to have the weather support me in my moodiness.

The thing that time and age has shown me is that it's okay to be sad.  I don't need to feel better right now.  I don't need to fix anything.  I just need to allow what's moving in me to move.  Something has chosen this day to move.  Some ancient sadness, tied to something I don't know about or can't remember, has chosen this blessed day to move.  And, all I need to do is give it the space to do so.

My being has finally reached the place where it's okay for this sadness to loosen its grip and move.  And, the tears I shed this day are both the sadness that's leaving and moving through my being, and the gratitude for that process.  They are a mixed bag of emotions.  They are multidimensional.  They are deep and true.  There is nothing wrong with feeling sad or with crying, even if for no apparent reason.

Have you noticed that we--as humans--often have a hard time allowing each other to feel our emotions?  Why is that?  Why are we uncomfortable in the presence of certain emotions?  I think it's because we haven't reached a place of comfort within ourselves in regard to those emotions.  I have more difficulty feeling and expressing anger than I do with sadness.  I have trouble with extreme happiness.  I don't understand it.  But, those are my limitations and issues.  Sadness is more familiar.  My being was born carrying an overabundance of sadness.  It was a life choice I made long before I entered this body.  I brought it with me because I knew that it was in this lifetime that it would be able to move.  So, I'm grateful when it makes itself known and another piece of it moves through.

One of the grave mistakes I think the modern spiritual movement has made is to ignore or deny our darkness.  The whole focus is on love and light and positive thinking, but at the expense of denying the other half of our humanness.  There's nothing wrong with love and light and positive thinking, but it's only part of the equation.  The result of this kind of thinking is that we can go into judgement of ourselves when we feel things other than love and light, or when we're not able to have positive thoughts in regard to whatever moment we're facing.  One of the great gifts of being human and having a body is to feel the full gamut of emotions that are connected with that experience.  When we start to shut them off, for any reason, we inhibit our ability to live fully.

I think we would benefit from teaching our children how to stand in and experience their emotions.  Instead of saying, "Don't cry" when someone is crying, we could reach out and hold them and allow those emotions to move without being cut off.  When someone is angry, instead of trying to shut them down and shut them up, we could give them the space to express what's moving in them and get it out.  When someone is happy, instead of telling them to quiet down or saying, "That's enough, now" we could give them the space to fully feel and express the elation that's present.  If we were able to understand that all emotions are okay, and that by giving them their space while they're happening they are able to move through and out of the body, it would prevent a lot of negative acting out that's caused by denying or suppressing those emotions.

There's an indigenous tribe on the planet, the location of which I now can not remember, that sings their individual song to each baby when it's born.  The midwives, and those attending the birth, tune into the new spirit that's just come through, and sing their song to them.  As the new spirit hears its song, it feels welcome and at home.  It knows it's come to the right place.  And, as life continues, and the person gets off track or does something unacceptable, the tribe doesn't shame or punish them, they surround them with love and sing their song so that they remember who they are and reconnect to their essence.  What a wonderful thing to do.  It's such an honoring of being human and such a deep understanding of how to help someone find their way back to themselves.

Today, I am honoring the sadness that moves through me and giving it the space it needs.  I allow the tears to fall.  I let myself have it.  It is an acceptance and honoring of my humanity.  I'm grateful for it.  After it all moves through, I'll feel lighter.  And so, I sing my song.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Finding a Sense of Comfort

I'm finding my adjustment to my new life and new language in Uzes, France to be interesting and challenging in ways that were/are unexpected.  Why anything should be expected in this transition, since so much is an unknown, is a mystery.  But, the mind loves to create expectations based on past experience.  So, I just keep crashing through expectation after expectation.  And, my mind, relentless tool that it is, just keeps setting them up over and over again.

I've only been here a month, but time is such a relative thing.  This month feels like forever and no time at all.  I have to keep reminding myself that I've only been here a month when I'm not able to understand what's said to me in French, and when I'm not able to say what I want to say without struggling.  I've done pretty well for only a month.  I've also had an amazing amount of help from one kind and generous person after another, without any of whom life would have been so much more difficult.

Moving to a foreign country and immersing oneself in a new culture, language and way of life is a challenge any way you look at it.  Things are encountered that one can't possibly have prepared for or known about.  And, even in a first-world, Western-culture country such as France, the differences are many and basic and require an inordinate amount of adjustment.  But, I'm finding my way.  I'm making new friends.  I'm getting done what needs to get done.  I'm starting to feel comfortable.

When I first got here, just walking out my door to do the most basic of functions carried a certain amount of anxiety.  There was, and still is, so much to figure out.  But, bit by bit, things become familiar.  Ways of doing things are shown or figured out.  The processes of daily life reveal themselves.  Little things, like going to the Post Office, become less and less mysterious.  People speaking to me in French are starting to make sense, at least partially, with every word I hear.  Repetition is a wonderful teacher.

The telephone is still a major challenge, but I'm getting better at it.  Sometimes, I have to call a number many times and listen to the voice prompts over and over and over before they start to make sense and I can choose the right prompts to get where I need to get and do what I need to do.  I have to ask people to speak slowly and simply to help me understand.  I still need help translating things.  I am a child in this language and this culture, and I must be comfortable with that.

I am starting French conversation classes at the local Universite Populaire on March 11, after the ski holiday is over.  And, I'm hoping to find another French class so that I have at least two a week.  The focus and support of regular classes will help a lot.  Along with hearing and using French every day, plus reading it in endless instances out of utter necessity, will all push me forward to greater fluency and comfort in my new language.

I have not bought a car and am not driving yet, but that will come in its own time.  I find that my life is much slower and more simple without a car, and I get a lot more exercise because I do a lot of walking.  Endless thanks go out to my friend, Geoffrey, who drives me if I need to go somewhere farther afield; and, endless thanks also go out to my friend, Debby, who allows Geoffrey to drive her car--which we call The Tardis--while she is not here.  We call the car The Tardis--a reference to the Dr. Who TV series--for its ability to hold so much more than one might expect it to.  We've gotten amazing amounts of things into the back of the car.

This is a quiet place and I sleep much better here than I did in the U.S.  I sleep deeply and have started dreaming in a way that I wasn't previously.  I am more calm and am constantly nurtured by the beauty that surrounds me at all times.  I'm starting to feel a rhythm and a balance to life here that is very reassuring and supportive.  I am opening more and more to this place as it opens more and more to me, and I'm feeling a sense of deep peace as the days go by.

This move hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, and I know I have challenges to overcome that are yet to be revealed, but it's been worth everything it took to get here.  I have no regrets for leaving and only gratitude for where I am and the life that is unfolding around me.  No matter what Life calls you to, or what the challenges that might be required to get there, know that it will be worth it.  Say "yes" and jump in.  Answer the call.    

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ode to Geoffrey, and the Basis of Trust

A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook last week that struck me to my core.  I will repeat it here, because it deserves repeating.

"We cannot train our babies not to need us.  Whether it's the middle of the day or the middle of the night, their needs are real and valid, including the simple need for human touch.  A 'trained' baby may give up on his needs being met, but the need is still there, just not the trust."  --L.R. Knost, www.RelationshipsLoveHappiness.com.

Wow...  Such understanding and compassion, at a very deep level.  And, so far-reaching in its implication in our lives.

I was born to two young high school students who, wisely, made the decision to give me up at birth and allow me to be adopted.  I spent the first seven weeks of life alone in a crib in a home for unwed mothers.  What I remember of that time--yes, babies do remember--is being cold and confused and that the light was too bright; that there were others around, but more at a distance.  Seven weeks of my needs being met in only the most basic of ways; no loving touch or caring physical contact.

I was adopted by parents who were desperate for a child, and who wanted to raise their child "correctly."  I was their first child, and they turned to the advice and information given by Benjamin Spock in a book called "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care."  It was a very popular book in the 1950's, and there might be some very good advice in that book, I don't know.  But, there was some advice that my parents followed that was detrimental, especially for a child such as myself, who had developed trust issues from birth.

For the first three years of my life, my mother would put me to bed and then sit with me and stroke my head until I fell asleep.  But, at three, it was decided that I had to learn to fall asleep on my own and the bedtime communion with my mother would stop...cold turkey.  So, she would put me to bed and then walk away and leave me alone to find sleep on my own.  This is what Benjamin Spock supposedly said to do in his book, according to my mother, who told me about it later.

This sudden abandonment at bedtime created confusion and anger.  I would scream for hours before tiring myself and finally falling asleep.  According to my mother, Benjamin Spock also said to leave the child alone and let them cry and that they'd get over it.  So, my parents would sit in the living room, listening to me scream, and will themselves to ignore me.  After a certain amount of days, I became trained to the new normal of being left alone at bed time.  The screaming stopped.  But, the sense of abandonment and confusion did not.  I was simply trained to realize that my needs at that time, and in that situation, were not going to be met.

We are trained from a young age to accept that many of our needs will not be met.  We're ignored and pushed aside in our own needs in order to fulfill the needs of our parents and other caretakers.  It ends up being more about what the caretaker wants than what the child wants and is trying to communicate in order to have their needs met.  And, it happens throughout our lives.  We do this to each other all the time.  We might state that we want a certain thing, or need a certain thing, and our partner or friend will say back to us, "You don't need that.  Here, have this instead."  Or, "You don't really want that, what you want is this."  Or, the actions of others often very clearly state that our needs or wants are unimportant to them.  They are so clearly focused on meeting their own needs or wants, that ours are pushed to the side, and we are forced to abandon them or to compromise them.

I have spent a large portion of my life listening to other people tell me what I want or don't want, what I need or don't need.  Sometimes I would listen or compromise, sometimes I would walk away.  But, it's difficult to ignore those with whom one is in relationship.  And, it would often take me many years to realize the depth to which I had compromised myself, my wants and my needs.  Most of our patterns are set when we are very young, and this pattern for me has perpetuated itself for long enough.

My friend, Geoffrey, who has been driving me around and helping me because I do not yet have a car of my own in my new home of Uzes, France, is outside this pattern.  I realize that one of the reasons my whole process of going through what needs to be accomplished to establish myself here and meet my needs in this new place, is that Geoffrey has never superseded my needs with his own.  He has never tried to talk me out of anything I've needed to do or to buy, or to convince me that something other than what I want would be better.  He has consistently done what he said he would do in a completely supportive and accepting manner.  He has gone out of his way to help me meet my needs.  This is a rare occurrence in my life.  His gift of selflessness in this first week of my birth into a new place and culture has helped me to feel more at home here than I normally feel anywhere.  He has made me feel accepted and respected in a way that touches me deeply.  And, I now see that a pattern of distrust and unmet needs is finally able to be dismantled and set aside.

Our lives are filled with angels, some we recognize and some we don't.  Some receive our gratitude and some we take for granted.  Some help us in ways we can see and understand, and others help us in ways that are impossible to comprehend.  But, they are there.  Geoffrey is one of my angels.  He is lifting me up in simple yet profound ways, for which I shall forever be grateful.  He is helping me into awareness and assisting me in transforming a destructive pattern that I have carried from birth.  Because of his friendship, I am forever changed for the better.  And, he is simply being who he is.  I don't think he has any conscious idea of how impactful his presence and friendship with me has been and continues to be.

We often don't realize how important it is to really show up for each other; to listen to each other, respect each other, and accept each other.  The gift of really seeing each other and supporting each other in our journeys, instead of trying to affect or overrun each other's journeys, is a gift beyond measure.  Being able to see, accept and support another in their journey and their choices, even when that journey and those choices differ from ones we would make for ourselves, is a deep lesson that is ongoing day by day.  Life has sent me an angel and teacher in this very important lesson, in my friend, Geoffrey.  And so, I find myself yet again, on my knees in gratitude.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Here and Now

I'm in Uzes.  Finally.  To stay.  I'm still processing that.  My being is still grounding into my body in this place, still catching up.  Some of me had gone ahead, some of me has stayed behind and is lingering with the old place.  It is a process for all of me to make it here and coalesce into who I am in this new place and create what my life will be here.

I am still me, of course.  But, that we are different in different places is real.  The place and the people affect us, and we change and grow because of them.  This place will require new things of me.  I will have to find parts of myself that were lost or that I didn't know existed.  I have to get to know myself in a new way...allow myself to rise in a new way.

One of the things my mind wants to do is to compare how things are here with how things were in the old place.  No.  That is of no value.  It doesn't matter how things were, it only matters how things are...here...now.  Things won't be the same here.  Everything will be different.  Some things better, some things worse, but only if I get caught in the comparison of old and new.  The comparison takes me out of being with what is.  The comparison is a method of staying with the old.  And, now, it's not about staying with the old, it's about opening to the new.

I am starting slowly, oozing into the energy of today.  My mind runs through lists of what there is to do here and wants to move into the day.  But, my body is tired from the travel of getting here and wants to sit and take it all in.  So, I sit.  I let my mind run in circles because there's no corralling it, but my body is quiet.  It's an overcast, gray sky that greets me and covers my world.  Birds fly across the frame of my window.  A cat creeps across the roof across the street.  I feel my butt on the seat cushion of my chair and my feet as they rest on the floor as my fingertips move across the familiar keys of my computer.  It's quiet and I'm comfortable and I have all that I need in this moment.

My cat, Sophie, continues to wander the new space, discovering everything there is to know about the feels and smells and shapes of things.  She's been more affectionate with me during this journey and we've grown closer.  Our love and interdependence with each other has grown deeper.  I am her only anchor in a changing world.  Having her with me is a great gift.  She is my heart, my companion, my friend, my child, my supporter.  She uplifts me and grounds me into the present at the same time.  I am grateful for her presence in ways that defy words and fill me to overflowing.

My heart is full in this moment and I'm grateful to everyone and everything that has conspired to get me and Sophie here.  It took an enormous amount of Life force to magnetize everything into the reality of this moment.  And, it is that enormity of Life force that renews me and keeps me moving.  We don't accomplish things all at once, we accomplish them step by step, bit by bit...digestible bits...as my friend calls them.  You don't eat the whole piece, you eat it in bits, digestible bit by digestible bit.

And so, I walk into my new life moment by moment, savoring each one, letting the moments wash over me as they string themselves together and open the path before me.  Step by step, one foot in front of the other.  Keep walking.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A New Way of Seeing

Sophie and I just went through a bit of a breakdown, or breakthrough, as I like to see it.  We've both been dealing with a lot getting ready to move to France, and we've been adjusting and integrating pretty well up until this week.  But, as happens with breakthroughs, we're both feeling better now that we're through it.

Sophie had to go in for her last veterinarian visit on Monday in order to get all her travel papers signed by the USDA-certified vet.  She's basically fine, but I'd been noticing behavior that told me her anal glands needed to be expressed, and she's "barbered" her lower stomach...shaved herself, so-to-speak.  The expressing happened--which can not be a pleasant experience--and the vet wanted to put her on antibiotics, both for that and because she thought there might be a bladder infection.  After three doses of the antibiotics, Sophie was throwing up and had diarrhea, so I stopped the medication and we went back to the vet today.  Only today, Sophie got to see her regular vet, Dr. Mariann Rozsa, of the Bayside Vet Hospital in Point Loma, for all you San Diego folks.  Dr. Rozsa is a miracle of a vet and a feline specialist.  She loves cats and Sophie loves Dr. Rozsa as she loves very few people.  Sophie was calm throughout the visit and didn't fight when she got a B12 shot or had a pill put down her throat or got put back into her carrier.  You would have thought she was a different animal.  She didn't cry on the way home, ate two plates of food and immediately went to sleep.  She's fine.  No more antibiotics, just probiotics to sprinkle on her food and three more pills for nausea and done.  Dr. Rozsa treated Sophie with such love that Sophie perked up, received energy from the visit, and calmed down...all at the same time.

Why Sophie's anal glands and why now?  A cat's anal glands secrete when the cat's bowels move.  It carries hormonal information and, through scent, any animal that smells the information contained in the secretions knows everything they need to know about the cat who secreted it.  It's identifying information.  It's who the cat is.  In my view, Sophie has lost a clarity about who she is.  She's gone through a lot in the last few years...a number of moves, losing a "brother" cat with whom she had a very conflicted relationship, losing her older "sister" cat who she loved and with whom she's lived her whole life, being left alone with a caretaker while I walked The Camino, and then being left alone again almost immediately when I went back to France to find a place to live.  It would be a lot to adjust to and process under any circumstances, but to then add this huge move across the world to all of what she's already been through, put her into an identity crisis.  Sophie has to see herself differently, in the same way that I do.  She is no longer who she was, and is in the process of rebirthing herself into who she will be in our new home and new life...creating a new identity.

Yesterday, I drove up to the USDA office in El Segundo, which is just south of the Los Angeles airport.  I had to take Sophie's travel papers there to get everything officially stamped, signed, and numbered.  Thanks to Jennifer, in the Bayside Vet Hospital office, all the paperwork was in order and complete.  So, $38 and an hour and a half later, I was on my way.

I had been fine on the way up to LA but, on the way back, my left eye started to tear and felt scratchy and got swollen and started creating mucus.  By the time I got back to San Diego, my left eye was practically swollen shut.  I've never had conjunctivitis, but I figured that's what I had.  Why I had it was a mystery, but have it I did.  I went to bed early and hoped that it would be better when I got up, but no.  Both eyes were affected, but my left eye was extreme.  I had to find a doctor.

I went to a family clinic near my sister's house, ended up being referred to another clinic in a different part of town, went there, waited about three hours, and saw a lovely doctor who told me not to worry and that I'd be fine in a few days.  He prescribed antibiotic drops for my eyes and some allergy pills to reduce the swelling and sent me on my way.  Done.  My eyes are already feeling better.

Why my eyes, specifically why my left eye, and why now?  Well, the physical trigger was that I'd been helping my sister clean out her garage and back porch for the last week, which meant considerable amounts of dust for my system to deal with.  But, I've been in dusty situations before and not developed conjunctivitis or had an extreme allergic reaction, so why now?  The answer I got was because I need to see in a new way.  And, specifically, I need to see in a more feminine way--left eye.  Yes...  I'm leaving my country and everything I know to move to a new country and live a different life.  My life will look/be different in all aspects.  I will be seeing new things and seeing new ways of doing things.  I will need to see things differently in order to adapt to my new culture and adopt new customs and ways of being.  My eyes needed to be cleaned out and reset.  I needed to come into a visceral awareness of the need to see in a new way.

I'm moving from a very masculine, aggressive culture in the US to a very feminine, receptive culture in France.  It's so important that I see this and see the difference between the two.  I will have an enormous amount to do when I get to Uzes.  I have to set up my apartment, starting from scratch.  My normal way of getting this done would be to launch an all out assault, attack the situation and wrestle it to completion.  One way to do it.  But, I need to pull myself back from my old normal.  The old way will not be the most effective way in my new home.

Fortunately, without realizing it, I arranged to arrive in Uzes on a Saturday afternoon.  Fortunate because that means my first full day there will be a Sunday.  On Sundays in France, everything is closed and life is slow and people enjoy the day.  This means, I can't even try to hit the road running.  I will take Sunday to get to know my new apartment.  I'll spend time in it and measure it and let it talk to me.  Every space wants different things and different colors.  Every space has a certain feel and flow to it that tells you where to place the furniture.  And, having a whole day to get to know my new space before putting one thing into it is a real blessing.

Sophie and I leave San Diego next Tuesday, fly away on Wednesday, and arrive in Uzes on Saturday.  Our day of departure from all that's comfortable and familiar is drawing near.  I've been so focused on getting everything done in order to be ready to leave--masculine aspect--that I've given very little attention to the emotional impact of leaving--feminine aspect.  But, because of what's happened for both myself and Sophie over the last few days, I've given the emotional aspect a chance to talk to me and catch up.  So, I'm seeing more clearly, all is indeed well, and I am yet again on my knees in gratitude, which is never a bad place to be.