moving at the speed of life

There is so much to see. Really, there is!

 

Our obsession with speed, with cramming more and more into every minute, means that we race through life instead of actually living it. Our health, diet and relationships suffer. We make mistakes at work. We struggle to relax, to enjoy the moment, even to get a decent night’s sleep.

 – Carl Honore

I was out earlier this morning, driving to make a couple of quick stops before returning home. I happened upon a car accident, actually an accident involving two large pickup trucks. I couldn’t quite figure out what happened to cause an accident that resulted in what I was observing. As I continued on, I noticed the volume and speed of vehicles, as if we had returned, completely, to living life the way we were before the pandemic found its way into our country.

I reflected upon the quiet, calm, and significant reduction in traffic while everything was shutdown a few months ago. In those early days, there were very few cars on the road. However, some of the few that passed me were moving at a fairly high rate of speed, likely because they could. It was as if the speed limit signs, the stop signs and yield signs were non-existent.

As I continued to watch the road, mindful of the speed limit, the traffic signs and the common courtesy of allowing someone into a lane or moving so they can enter the roadway, I still saw drivers in different sizes and types of vehicle not following the “rules of the road”.

I started to wonder…do they not see the signs? Or did they see them at one time and are no longer aware of their presence or why they are there? Do they not see them because they are thinking about where they are going, or the bills that haven’t been paid, or the loved ones who are sick? Are they talking on the phone and so engaged in the discussion that they are oblivious to the traffic around them, and therefore not aware of the traffic signs?

We had an opportunity during the quarantine period to slow down – if not stop – the busyness in our lives. Time to reflect. Time to ask ourselves questions about our priorities, our habits, our roles, our commitments, our past choices…our futures.

What did we learn about ourselves? What did we learn about our communities? Our countries? Our participation in any of these? Our responsibilities as individuals and citizens of a larger group – our families, our communities, our countries, our world?

If traffic is a metaphor for where we are now, I wonder what we will create going forward?

Is this truly living? Are we satisfied that the ways we are moving through our days are the ways we want to lead our lives?

Is there an antidote?

Nature. It isn’t in a hurry. It has seasons. Seasons of birth, growth and expansion, slowing down and preparing for rest, and finally the rest. Then we do it all again. The cycles of life have so much to show us, if we slow down and consider the moment to moment teachings. Whether you contemplate the trees, the flowers, the birds, other animals, there are cycles inherent in the lives of them all.

What might happen if we slowed down?

What if we considered that our old habits are slowly robbing us of the sacred gift of our lives?

What if we chose to lead our lives more authentically, more thoughtfully, with more love in our hearts?

What could we REALLY see, if we slowed down to look…and listen?

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

With gratitude to Loco’s Photos.

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.

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

what we cannot see

Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark.

– Elizabeth Gilbert

It can be said, that some among us fear that which we cannot see.

It can also be said, that we often choose to turn away from that which we prefer to not know or see, as it might erupt something within us that we cannot know or see and…see the previous statement.

I feel it is fair to offer here, that in these last many days of staying at home, we’ve had opportunities –  if we chose to avail ourselves of them – to seek that deep place within us that we cannot see and perhaps feel or know is there. We are afraid to “go there”.

These are the times, and this is the call – the call to go there.

Fear shows up in our lives in so many places. The way we heal it depends largely upon our willingness to notice…to notice within ourselves the places (thoughts, beliefs) where we may be stuck. “If I acknowledge that this situation or condition exists outside of me, then I must consider that it exists within me.”

Our ability to hide from ourselves is well honed. It has been reinforced in all of our societal norms and experiences from the moment we took our first breath – from familial experiences and habits to religious training and experiences to individual experiences of pain and betrayal in relationships. We cover our wounds with beliefs and thoughts and stories, and then commit to never going back into that place ever again. Sadly, our fear of what we cannot see, or choose not to see, also holds our greatest opportunity for healing and thus living more fully and authentically, this precious life we have.

I continue to learn that contemplation and waiting, rather than pushing and “making things happen” is the path forward. When we are still, we hear. What we hear or become aware of in those moments, can provide the next steps in our healing journey while we simultaneously walk softly toward what is yet to unfold – one present and precious moment at a time.

When change winds swirl through our lives, they often call us to undertake a new passage of the spiritual journey: that of confronting the lost and counterfeit places within us and releasing our deeper, innermost self – our true selves. They call us to come home to ourselves, to become who we really are.

 – Sue Monk Kidd, from When the Heart Waits

 

The “change winds” have been blowing lately, wouldn’t you agree? I wonder what you are being called to undertake in your own personal journey…

 

With gratitude to Locos Photos.

 

 

 

how are you?

How are you? I really mean it. I would really like to know how you are.

Most times, we are asked how we are, and most of those who ask, don’t really want to hear a full answer. I do. When I ask, I really wish to know how someone is.

So…how are you? These are extremely unusual times we are living in. The opportunities before us are endless…even if we feel they are extremely limiting. Is that where you are?

Are you writing, reading, playing music, dancing? Are you alone or staying in with others?

I’ve been listening to podcasts, reading books, listening to music, getting out for a walk when the weather is nice. All of this creates space for me to contemplate, to meditate, pray and to listen, deeply.

How about you? What are you learning – about yourself, others, your community, our country, our planet?

What do you feel you need? What have you determined is no longer necessary in your life?

~ ~ ~ ~

If you have read a book, listened to a podcast or found some good music, You are welcome to share it here in the comments below.

I am considering posting a list of resources for all of you. You are welcome to make suggestions!

Everyone…please take good care of yourself and others. Know that your choices affect many.

 

upside down

Dear Readers…

I feel sure that many of you are watching the news…and are keeping a safe distance from it. A steady diet of it is not what any of us need.

This is a time when our ability to observe the world, our communities, and how the results of past decisions are affecting our collective ability to respond.

In the US, as we looked forward to some of the promised financial relief, it is abundantly clear today that it hasn’t even come close to addressing the ongoing and growing needs. We continue to fail those who need this assistance the most, while the big and wealthy continue to benefit. Indeed the upside down nature of our society continues to be exposed.

I will not list all of the systems which have failed us all, world-wide for many, many years. Wherever you live in the world, you likely see it. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to, as objectively as possible, consider what is happening, even as reported numbers of cases and deaths increase.

There are the unseen, the uncounted, and unsupported which will likely not make it into these numbers. The marginalization of so many for so long is right in front of us. How did we arrive at this point in our history? I will leave the answers for you to discern from where you are geographically and from within yourselves.

What many of us know is that activism can only be useful if it is born from a place of love deep within. Until and unless we have embraced the wholeness of who we are at our very core, our actions may be imbued with anger…which will not be useful in the long term. What I see as I look around is a lot of love. People are reaching out and helping others with love in their hearts.

I also see a lot of anger. What we resist persists. What we look at (or embrace as our reality) disappears.

Have I mentioned that words have power? Social distancing is a term that has an energy of separation. Yet, many are finding ways to be in touch  – or connected – to loved one, friends and colleagues. Physical distancing is what we are really doing. Social distancing is NOT.  Do you see this as a war? When we are at war, the energy of resistance is what we create and perpetuate.

Scientists are working with all of this as they test, analyze and seek ways to help us move forward safely. Working with any situation is how we move through and beyond it.

See the upside down nature of our societies?

Take a moment, if you will, in your mind’s eye, envision the following:

A tightly packed container, filled with marbles of many colors and sizes, with a lid holding the marbles in place.

The container is clear so you believe that it is fully transparent and you can see completely through it.

You believe that you see all there is to see. You therefore believe what you see and you quickly move on to whatever else it is you have to do.

And then the lid comes off and the marbles spill out. They roll everywhere – for that is the nature of beautiful, colorful and small, round spheres.

You see the marbles rolling around everywhere and suddenly you begin to see the many different marbles from within the center of the container that were not visible to you when you looked quickly before and thought you saw every one of them.

Some of the marbles are clear. Some have a small bit of color and are otherwise clear. Some are solid colored – you cannot see through them. And you begin to realize…they are all different. Many were not seen until the container was open and turned upside down.

What can we possibly take from this?

Here are a few observations. I encourage you to consider your own individual observations.

  • None of us is the same. All of us have different stories, experiences and needs.
  • What we thought was true, was not true.
  • What we thought we saw was not what was really there.
  • When they all fall out, do we discard some and not others in order to try to fit them all back into the container?

How can we address what is now spilled before our eyes? How can we put it all back together? Maybe we don’t spend any of our precious creative energy trying to force everything back to where it was before.

Maybe we see this as the breakdown…for a breakthrough.

I am additionally reminded of the Japanese art of, Kintsugi. What is broken is repaired in ways that make what is broken even more beautiful.

That is the opportunity we have now…in our upside down world. We can see what we did not see – or chose not to see – before. We may not know exactly how or what we will create going forward. We do know that what we create will not resemble what we had before. Don’t we?

 

unmoored

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”
Andre Gide

It may seem odd that I would begin a post with this quote. However, where we are, collectively in this part of our human experience has created an opportunity for us to examine those places within ourselves where we may have ceased to perceive our  deception of ourselves. If you believe “the outer reflects the inner” as I do, you may be able to readily see where this is visible outside of us…compelling us to examine our individual self-deceptions.

When we become unmoored, it can be very scary. No longer tethered to something stable, sound or secure, we may feel lost; without an over-structured schedule or life; perhaps even feeling that we lack a guide for what is next or how we will find our way forward. Many are also talking and writing about a new, as yet undefined, normal.

Before the “new normal” begins to unfold, we must each let go of what defined our collective past. What, you wonder, might some of those beliefs, thoughts, habits, and actions might be? We need look no further than the places – no, the people –  most affected by the virus and if still healthy, are feeling the rippling impacts the most.

Rather than developing a list of all of the affected groups, segments and the greed that seems to know no bounds, I will simply offer this.

Contemplating the upside down nature of our human collective as well as the blatant disregard for all beings in nature, including Mother Earth, is probably a good place to begin the development of the new normal. Each of us has something that we are currently contributing to the wholeness of our world right now. Perhaps our reflections will lead us to making different choices, or to expand what we are currently offering.

Anything IS possible. It is in our creative imaginations and dreams that possibilities will dawn and we will find our way forward – together.

For now, may we all find comfort in the unmoored time we are in. As challenging as it may be, it is only in this liminal space where we will realize the potential for many new possibilities as we work together to create new ways of being on our now healing Mother Earth.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Andre Gide

 

This is a picture of a beautiful and very meaningful print that was given to me as a gift.