experience is a teacher

Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.

– Andre Gide

As a recovering over-thinker and over-planner, I cannot help but wonder about the active over-thinkers and over-planners and whether they are finding this well worn habit useless in the face of shutdowns and quarantines, increases in sickness and deaths. In the earlier parts of my life, I’m quite sure I might have found all of this to be a bit overwhelming, especially as I was also living with depression. I feel great compassion for all who feel as if control of their lives has been diminished or taken away. I’m certain I would have felt the same.

What I know today, having a few more years of life experience behind me – you know….pain, suffering, betrayals, losses, etc. – is that giving up “control” can be a peaceful way to live. I was a little crazy to believe I could control it all anyway. I tried, though. I really did try. I know today that my efforts to control were for my protection – even when I told myself that all of the over-thinking and over-planning were to ensure everything went well for everybody in whatever setting I was in, including my vacation!

All of this is to say; as we watch the openings, rolling back of openings, schools trying to decide what to do; all unfolding before our eyes, I wonder if we will see over-planning, under-planning, thoughtful responses or thoughtless pushes. And what will the impact of all of this movement be for everyone?

My hope is that we might all consider our individual experiences in life – where we planned, where we didn’t – and what the outcomes were. Were we patient because our over-planning didn’t foresee something that took us in a completely different direction? Or did we get angry and upset because we didn’t see the fork in the road until we were far down the wrong side of the fork? And who did we get angry and upset with?

I raise all of this because we tend to project, deflect and blame when things do not go as we had planned or expected. What is called for as we take old steps into a new way of being in a new world?

Patience. Taking responsibility for ourselves.

Some will take baby steps. Some will take running steps, not even looking except in the direction of the destination – and will miss everything along the way. Some will look upon others wearing or not wearing masks and will make judgments rather than simply accepting what others are choosing – while keeping their own safe distance and continuing to take precautions.

Today, I had a brief conversation which caused me to consider the differences between fear and awareness. These two seem as if they do not belong together in any way. And yet, they could, if misinterpreted, be considered related rather than mutually exclusive. It all comes down to perception. Is there fear “out there” in the midst of all of the pandemic feelings, emotions and experience? Yes…we all know there is. And then there is awareness. Are we aware that there are known and unknown risks? Well, yes, some of us do. Does choosing to be aware mean that we are courting fear? I don’t think it does at all.

What I hope we will see more of, as a result of this up and down or seemingly endless “time out”, or whatever you wish to name it, is an increase in compassion and respect as we move toward creating our new ways of being together.

Are we coming out of the woods, or down from the mountain of the peaks of this pandemic? I wish we were. In some places, perhaps. In others, perhaps not.

We always know more in retrospect than we know in the moments we are living in – if, and only if, we are honest with ourselves.

 

The years teach much that the days never know.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

looking forward

I recently came across a wonderful set of cards that serve to both highlight and showcase the beauty in our world, as well as to inspire with thoughtful words for reflection and contemplation. Each card has a theme printed on a picture of a natural setting and on the reverse, a thoughtful message.

This morning, as I was enjoying my morning tea, and reading some articles and catching up on messages sent, I came across an inspiring quote (shared below) which lifted me and reminded me that even though the times we are in feel very dark, we will rise to something even better…in time. Following guidance provided in the box of Beauty Cards, I shuffled them and then pulled one from the middle of the stack. The minute I looked at it, the synchronous message in the quote I had seen earlier came into clearer focus.

The Beauty Card, “Looking Forward” had this message: “From your now moment softly turn your inner gaze to what lies ahead. Imagine a future for yourself that is filled with joy, beauty and wonder. Ask yourself: what’s the best thing that can happen?”

I’ll be honest here. When I first awoke, I felt a little tug of despair and sadness at all that is happening in our world. So many people are dying, and so many more will, from a virus that we still do not know everything there is to know about it. People are dying from violence, desperation, and so many other reasons. It feels as if fear, anger and hate are so pervasive, that seeing love, light and hope can be difficult.

Yet, I am reminded by what I really know in my heart, validated by the card I pulled this morning and the quote below, that we will move forward to a brighter and better time.

We are living the myth of the Phoenix falling from its perch into the fires of transformation. Much of our familiar world will indeed be reduced to ashes. And yet, the promise of the Phoenix is that it will rise again – it always rises again. And so will we.

– Caroline Myss

Looking forward also means, learning and acknowledging the past. By taking responsibility for ourselves – our words, our choices, the way we regarded others – and acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice of others, we have the opportunity to be more clear eyed and open hearted about our visions and answers to the question posed in the card: “What’s the best thing that can happen?”

Today, I wish to offer gratitude to the many whose bodies have been lost to COVID-19, the senseless violence that pervades our society, and those who have left their bodies at this time for other reasons. I know their souls have returned to the great beyond (or true home) and they are with us –  always with us – as we may wish to call upon them.

As has been said following the death of John R. Lewis following the years of sacrificing his body as he stood for the fundamental rights promised in the founding documents of the United States, “we will take it from here”.

Indeed we will. We will rise again.

fault lines

A fault line is defined as:

  • a line on a rock surface or the ground that traces a geological fault.
  • a divisive issue or difference of opinion that is likely to have serious consequences.

Perhaps we are all familiar with the divisions in the politics and communities within our respective countries. And make no mistake, it’s everywhere – to some degree. However, I can’t say I’ve often heard people speak of fault lines, except in the context of earthquakes (see the first bullet point in the definition). I’m sure it’s been used…just not as frequently as to become vernacular to describe current conditions. That may be intentional so as not to fuel a collective belief that many long standing issues, now coming to the fore in this pandemic, are intractable. As challenging as they are, the conditions we are living in are not impossible to change or otherwise overcome.

However, I feel as if the very foundations upon which our countries were organized; the supporting democracies upon which our systems of inclusive government were formed; and the norms and mores which provide a relatively comfortable structure for our communities, are all cracking open along the bedrock of our common ground – the earth.

As hard as this is to see, understand, and accept, it is essential to our very survival and our ability to let go of the past and to support the development of a new world – a new way of being – that we see it, take responsibility for it and step into the possibilities which are there…waiting for us.  The old structures are crumbling. Those “in power” are attempting to hold on as tightly and intently as possible. It’s so easy to see and extremely difficult to watch…all at once. Narrowing the lens, fault lines are opening in our communities – and our families.

This morning, I realized there are four living generations in my family. And there is a deep fault line that runs through two of them. I have hope that the younger of the four are seeing – or are beginning to see – what is happening and may even know deep within themselves that they will not choose a side. Their “side” is the future. Although they range in age from 19 to “waiting to be born any day now” and are influenced by their parents, they have curious, creative minds that will carry them into a new future.

Our responsibility is to lay the groundwork for a future we will not see. Although I am hopeful that I will live to see the dawning of these necessary changes, I know I will not see them at high noon, in full bloom. My hope for the generation of my grandchildren is that they will carry the new and improved world into their sunset…and the generations to follow will inherit a much better place where equality among all sentient beings is the norm and not the exception.

As leaders of our lives, we do not have to wait for the leaders-in-title to take the first steps. In fact, they demonstrate every day that they are not embracing their title as leader to support the people. Many of them have failed miserably to step outside of their individualist and cronyist focus, and are blind to what is needed by the masses.

So, where does that leave us? Empowered to step up and step in. In caring for ourselves, we have a full vessel of love to offer to others.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.*

Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet.

– John Lewis

💟☮️

 

*attributed to Theodore Roosevelt

circles, ovals and infinity

Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.

– Albert Schweitzer

I remember, as a child, a little game in which we all held hands in a circle, sang a little song as we stepped sideways and around and we then all fell to the ground and laughed! Sometime we would get up and do it again, adding a little bit of speed to the singing and the movement. It was a lot of fun and we always seemed to erupt into lots of laughter and giggles!

Thinking about that the other day, I started to reflect on the meaning of a circle. Then I looked out the window and right in front of me was an oval, encircled with trees and bordered by a sidewalk, with lots of grass in the middle. It is a circle that has been stretched…just a bit. I always enjoy watching dogs and their owners playing there, and I occasionally see a couple of folks sitting on a blanket, enjoying a picnic and playing guitar. It is a lovely little place that feels like a small oasis in the midst of my community.

Then, I remembered the figure eight. It is one circle, stretched into an oval, I thought, and then one side flipped over…never breaking the circle. That is the sign for infinity ♾️. Infinity was described to me, years ago and in a spiritual context, as the symbol for the ongoing existence of a soul; the middle of the symbol – a doorway. One side of the symbol represents our human experience. The doorway is where we shed our human body and our soul continues into the Great Beyond or Universe or home to God, or whatever you prefer. Of course that same doorway is an opening to entering (or re-entering, if you will) as a human. It is a never ending process, beautifully depicted in that symbol – as it was described to me. It is an image that I find to be both powerful and comforting.

 

Life is a full circle, widening until it joins the circle motions of the infinite.

– Anais Nin

All of this is to say, that these  – the circle, the oval and the infinity symbol are much softer than a square or rectangle. And yet as we observe our world, we can clearly see the edges, the divisions, the lines – drawn between.

Circles create an opportunity for us to see. We can see each other – everyone. There are no corners in which one can hide. When I think of the world, of community, I always think of a circle. Today I see so many places where the edginess of fear, anger, hate and other such divisive emotions are acted upon. And I wonder…what might happen if we put a circle where that square is.

The sun is round, the moon is round. What might we learn from the energetic power they have? How might we see how the sun is a life giving force for our human existence? When will we wake up to what is possible, rather than allowing ourselves to remain mired in the despair of a seeming loss of control (as if we had any control to begin with)?

 

All things from eternity are of like forms and come round in circle.

 – Marcus Aurelius

tending our gardens

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.
 – Mother Goose

The world is changing. Our communities are changing. Our individual lives are changing. How are we tending our gardens in the midst of all of this?

Of course, many have taken up gardening this year, since we have been staying at home. There is something life affirming about planting and growing a garden, whether in the ground or in containers. Flowers, plants, herbs, so many options! If you have ever transplanted a house plant – one which has been growing in the same pot for years, and you notice that it just doesn’t seem as vibrant or perhaps isn’t growing the way it used to – then you may well know what “root bound” means. Most of us recognize weeds when we see them…even if they are beautiful plants or flowers growing in a place where we didn’t intend them to grow.

All of this has created an opportunity to reflect on the gardens in our lives. Now, I’m referring to the space in our hearts, the space in our minds – our interior spaces – and our social media spaces, our families, our friends and our communities – our exterior spaces. All of these are either well tended with love, grace, acceptance and an awareness of what to let go of, over the passage of time; OR they are allowed to grow weeds, become root bound, holding fast to those thoughts, ideas or ideologies which we think are comfortable and yet we are not really experiencing any growth or expansion.

Holding on to the old beliefs, the habits of mind and alignments with outer things and people which may not align with our interior spaces can create great suffering. Living in fear of changes over which we have no control can create great separation, perpetuate great division and leave loved ones behind. Often, those in the midst of this don’t even realize what is happening.

As we consider our interior and exterior spaces, perhaps taking a few moments to contemplate, to question ourselves about what we are “growing” (or not), in our spaces might help us take steps toward a more peaceful, love filled life and way of being. Facing our deepest fear is an important step to cultivating a rich “soil” where love, peace, compassion and acceptance can grow.

Love and peace to all in these times of great change.

💟☮️

stand for or stand against?

Standing against creates resistance.

Resistance creates heat.

Heat creates inflammation.

Inflammation is an early step in the healing process…or,

untreated, unseen, unsupported, can lead to infection.

Infection, if left untreated, can lead to death.

I recently put my toes back in the pool of social media, specifically Facebook. A two and a half year hiatus was necessary for some essential healing of wounds that stunned me, and reminded me of many lessons I had forgotten about the realities of life in these times. That time provided the necessary space to hone my observation skills and to deepen my listening to myself and to others.

I have been watching myself and others as we have navigated the pandemic and all of its multiple challenges. Layer on top of that, the racial injustices in my country, and it appears that all of the fissures which have been in place in our societal foundation are now cracked wide open. I, for one am grateful that so many have awakened to the inequities that are pervasive in this country, and from what I can see are also present in others as well.

I am not in the streets protesting. I AM supportive of all who are. I am finding ways to provide support from where I am. We are at a necessary tipping point. Evolution is an imperative and we will either go with it or our resistance will create harm for ourselves and others. I am listening, I am reaching out to my friends who are black or brown and even though I thought I knew a lot, my eyes have been opened to so many aspects of their experiences that I couldn’t have possibly known…had I not inquired.

If we are not listening, and only talking as we attempt to defend our positions or beliefs, we cannot learn anything. Listening is scary. Why? We may see and learn something about ourselves. Our old assumptions and beliefs are challenged. We fear that deep dive into who we think we are.

There is no better time than RIGHT NOW, to listen. Listen to yourself – your fears, your assumptions. Listen to your friends. Listen without defending. Just listen. Reach out. Reach out to those in your life who do not look like you. Ask them how they feel. Ask them to tell you their stories. Listen without judgment. Do no interrupt them to try and defend a belief that you have. Remember…you are listening to THEIR story. Defending yours or your positions is disrespectful, at least.

Having gone back to social media, I see very clearly, the emotions on many sides of the issues before us as a human family. The fear is pretty intense…and sadly those who are showing it aren’t aware of it. When folks have chosen to post memes and old articles that appear to defend their positions, I used to get upset, wondering how anyone could be so separated from the realties of our collective humanity. Now I feel compassion for them and sadness at the same time.

As leaders of our lives, we choose. We choose what we believe. We choose how we listen, what we listen to and what we think or say in reaction. React is what many are doing.

As leaders of our lives, we choose. Standing up with those who are standing for their lives, is a gift of love and respect. Responding is what many are doing.

We will either work together and take the necessary steps to right the inequalities and injustices across the world which have served the few rather than the many, or we will all go down together.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

 – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I pray that light will get in; more eyes will be opened, more hearts and minds will open and we will find a way forward to honor all members of the family of beings which inhabit this planet, including Mother Earth herself.

May the fissures which are now BIG cracks, open us all to a new way of being – together, in true community. May the light begin to shine in the darkest places within ourselves – our perspectives and beliefs, so that we see old things with new eyes and can bring our best to the challenges of our times.

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

 – Leonard Cohen

Stand for love.

Stand for light.

Stand for healing.

Stand for ALL.

Poems from the Circle — flashlight batteries – poetry

Hello everyone. The times we are all in challenge us in many ways. One of the ways I’ve been navigating my experience is to participate in a writing circle, lead and facilitated by Ali Grimshaw, from Flashlight Batteries.

I am grateful that she chose to share one of my poems on her blog. She is a wonderful poet herself. Her gentle guidance and deep listening have helped us to find something in ourselves that, at least for me, may not have otherwise easily been expressed. For that I am grateful. You will see in the post I am sharing, her offer of other writing opportunities. I encourage you to visit her site and read some of her beautiful poetry. Thank you, Ali.


we are held one moment, one breath, one heartbeat at a time. even when I feel I am falling, I am held, safely. sometimes the fire within, which most often warms and lights my next step, rages. out of control – yes – that is the rage unseen, well hidden and buried; wounds of the […]

via Poems from the Circle — flashlight batteries – poetry

poetry – reuniting

We move away, apart,

separate from…

our hearts, each other.

 

We move on, believing

we can walk alone,

do it alone, needing no one else.

 

We reach out,

wishing to build

upon the common ground

we stand on.

 

Wiser for the journey,

the space we co-create is loving,

mutually respectful

and supportive.

 

Stronger together.

 

We step into a new way of being.

 

June 2020

poetry – family

 

We are all family;

all of the colors,

all of the textures,

all of the expressions.

 

We are sad, we are happy.

We ache and we rejoice.

We cry and we scream.

 

We are family,

and we are all hurting.

 

Hold hands.

 

We walk together,

as a human family.

 

Souls together, as one.

 

June 2020

the fires are burning

 

I’ve been enjoying the deep swim into poetry, and I raised my head to look around…and oh my goodness. Our world seems to be descending further…into a darkness that I was hoping we were going to slowly transcend and into more light. I still believe in the presence of the undercurrent of this loving, peaceful energy. It is intended to restore health and healing to our wounded world and all its sentient beings. Perhaps we will see more of this descending slide before the ascending that is below the radar will be more visible.

While we are caring for ourselves, tending to our wounded hearts and caring for others, I pray we keep our eyes and hearts on the movement toward a more peaceful, loving co-existence that is sustainable for all. It will take time, and a commitment from us all to seek better ways to lovingly support ourselves and each other.

The recent events in Minneapolis have touched me deeply in so many ways. The senseless loss of another life at the hands of officers sworn to protect and defend is deeply painful to see – over and over again. The burning fires in that city carry a deeper meaning that is within all of us – even if we choose to ignore or believe it doesn’t apply to us. The fires represent a smoldering, unseen and unheard (by us) rage. We often do not hear our own painful raging – deep within – as we seek to understand why we may feel as we do. Or we project it onto those closest to us without knowing, consciously, its true origin.

As I watch the pain of the people in Minneapolis, I am also reminded of the pain in many cities and places through the world. These flash points are calling to us. They are reminding us that our role is to do our inner work – to heal ourselves and to speak up about the injustices continuing to be perpetuated by patriarchy worldwide. To not do our work and to then rage against the injustices, is to act from resistance (fear) rather than from love.

In the midst of the pandemic we have had an opportunity to slow our pace (with the exception of ALL of the frontline workers  –  medical personnel, grocery workers, food processors, truck drivers, teachers, other first responders; not to forget parents with children at home) and do some serious self examination. Have you attempted this? Have you squandered the opportunity?

The fires are indeed burning. The situation in Minneapolis and other places is an out-picturing of what we are still individually and collectively, carrying inside. It is reminiscent of Charlottesville (2017), and so many other places.

May we soften. May we see others. May we hear them. May we sow seeds of love rather than continue, from our silence, be complicit in what continues to unfold before our very eyes.

Tina Malia’s Heal This Land, came to mind this morning, once again, as I observed the state of my country and other parts of he world. I offer the beautiful poetry of her lyrics as well as a video, so that you may hear the words. The resonance of the song is hard to brush aside or dismiss. I hope you read the lyrics, and then listen or do both simultaneously.

Music can be medicine for our weary souls. Feeling the resonance of the words, the music, can begin to heal us. Feelings are the language of the soul.

Let’s go there, my friends…let’s heal this land.

 

The fires are burning

So reach for me
Like the petals of a rose
Bloom in it’s season
Gentle and slow
My body is the mountain
The ocean, the river
The sand and the soil
The life giver
So come on now, my friend
Speak to me
Help me understand
Let us walk together
Take my hand
And we will heal this land

We will heal this land

Do you hear the call?
We will heal this land

If you could only believe