Sunday, November 18, 2018

Dancing with Shadows

We are descending into the darkest time of the year, made even more challenging by Daylight Savings Time’s end, which jolted us into sudden darkness at dinnertime.

We are hard-wired to the light, and our inner clocks struggle to reconcile the difference. We can feel a bit fuzzy-headed and sluggish till our bodies make the shift. I feel like this years’ time change was a doozy and hard to come out of.

As the shadows of sunset come earlier each day, we are drawn inwards. We feel sleepy by dinnertime, caused by the rising of melatonin in our bodies in response to the diminishing light. We long for comfort and warmth, and desire to linger in our jammies and cuddle on the couch. The world seems cold and harsh at times, and we reach for the sanctity of our caves, so to speak.

November brings us to a place of transition. The sweetness of summer is gone, the fall is being replaced by bluster and starkness, and the holiday brightness is not quite yet upon is. Our bodies, being attuned to the light, are asking us to slow down and prepare for winter, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.

We are being drawn back into our centers. . . our essence . . .our roots. 

As the final leaves fall, there’s an inner calling - an invitation to reflect. Our deepest self longs to pause and take stock of the past year: what we’ve planted and reaped, what was helpful and harmful, and how we can make the next year better. 

We need closure.

We tend to resist this inner reflection and deep work. It’s hard to take an honest look at our lives and determine what’s working, what needs forgiven, and what needs to be let go. We live in a culture that tells us to suck it up, keep going, and don’t ask questions. We’re encouraged to fight this natural instinct to do our inner maintenance. Resistance to this work will lead us into the winter with unresolved conflict, a kind of sickness that seeps into the soul, then creeps into the body. We will suffer on many levels from our lack of inner self-care.

This annual pause-and-review, if we allow it, gives us the chance to acknowledge our accomplishments and growth, which are often hard to see in the moment they’re occurring. We can give ourselves the needed pats-on-the-back that we don’t often get from others. It also allows us to see which relationships and beliefs are nourishing and which are harmful, so that we can prune away the dead branches. We get a chance to sit in gratitude for the blessings, and grieve for the losses. An honest assessment brings us to a place of peace, even if we choose to do nothing but acknowledge where we stand.

It’s easier to face our inner worries and demons than suppress them and pretend they’re not there. Ignoring them means that we don’t accept the full truth of who we are. We all have light and shadow.

And if we won’t dance with our shadows, someone else will.

Personally, I’d prefer not to be publicly triggered by ghosts of the past that I didn’t lay to rest properly. If I’ve taken the time to reflect on mistakes and forgiven them, I’ll be able to behave with more grace when those kinds of issues show up in life. I’ll be able to act instead of re-act. If I’m able to acknowledge what my weaknesses are and accept them as a part of the truth of who I am, there is much growth to be had there. 

No one is perfect, and we’ll all be wrestling with our shadows for our whole lives. It’s easier to get to know them well so we recognize them when they make an appearance. Those shadow aspects help us to attain balance in our lives and offer us perspective that we may not otherwise consider. They remind us to be present and to be honest about what we need so we can make the best choices possible.

I invite you to hear the calling of your heart and step into the energy of the season. Make some time to listen to your most beautiful inner-self. Discover what you need. Honor what you’ve gained, grieve what you’ve lost. Open up and accept where you are and love yourself for it – every last bit. It prepares the way for the dreamtime of winter – the season of restoration, nourishing our roots, and visioning.

May the sunsets be bold, our days be brilliant, and our nights be filled with warmth and comfort as we tend our hearts and souls. Above all, may we remember that forgiveness is our friend and love is a part of who we are. 

Love & Light,

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hidden Value

It is the little things that hold the tapestry of life together.

So often it feels like the only things we recognize are big milestones, like getting a job, or a house, or some kind of "great" success. Or worse, our glaringly biggest life mistake continues to haunt us, even when we've changed our ways and made recompense. Our culture excels at judging life's adventures as all good or all bad. It's easy to get caught up in that mindset ourselves. We can get so focused on achieving big things that we're not present for the small details that are constantly weaving our life story. 

When I look back on my life, it is the gentle and subtle little things that have been the "a-ha" moments, the most meaningful for me to experience. A sweet smile on a really bad day, a kick in the pants by a loved one who knows I need it, a message of gratitude from an unexpected place, or a moment of beauty at a highway rest stop - these are the tender moments that endure. 

Those simple threads are surprisingly steadfast and strong, the ones that hold everything together when life is otherwise unraveling. The universe has a way of keeping things in balance. Often when we feel the most lost or broken, someone appears in our life to offer us a new fiber to patch up our holes, along with scissors to trim up the ragged edges. That someone may be in our life for twenty seconds or twenty years. 

Existence here on planet Earth can be really hard. And sometimes it's hard for a really long time and we can lose our way, forget our unique brilliance, and get tired of just keep-on-keepin'-on when we're not making any headway.

For those of us who feel lost, know that our prayers are heard and we are loved, no matter what. Help is coming - let us be open to it and try not to predict its form. It most likely will show up in a stranger and a better way than we could have ever hoped.

For those of us who are able to shine our light at the moment - thank you, and let's keep it going as long as we can. We are sustaining those who have need of their dark caves for now - they are doing deep healing work, battling their shadows. Let us stand ready to greet them when they emerge, and then we shall take our turn to rest.

Every one of us faces our own challenges and fears every day. Let us be kind in our thoughts, words, and deeds, especially to ourselves, and then let that ripple out. We never know where it's going to go. 

The smallest things often have the most value.

Love & Light, Sue

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Interpretive Truth

The world is a messy place. I've been absent on this blog due to topsy-turvey in my own life with a long illness and then moving, but I'm back. My heart has compelled me to speak what has been tumbling around in my mind since the weekend. It's not about plants or Nature, but the nature of humans.
The violence in Charlottesville, VA is a horror that feels all-too familiar . . . a little supremacy and entitlement mixed with primal reactions, disputes and accusations, with harm as a result and someone feeling like they were the "winner". I personally can't see any winners in a situation where people were intentionally mowed down by a car and someone died.
There's a whole lot of blaming going on. A whole lot of people pointing fingers, media filled with outcries supporting the various sides. Screams of protests against monuments that were intended to represent history but have become icons for prejudice and malice. Arguments over free speech vs. hate.
I've been pondering this since the weekend. How did we get here? How do we move forward? What's the lesson?
Before the particular violent moment that ended a young woman's life, what caught my attention were the displays of fighting against something, especially in the chants, by both sides.
Fighting is fear in action. It is inherently violent and separating. Even when we think we're fighting against something wrong or evil, we're still fighting. It carries the same intention of disconnection and feeling of superiority, born out of fear and a feeling of powerlessness. We got a glimpse of the fears that showed up in Charlottesville. Light was cast into the shadow for a brief moment, and the invitation is open for us to look at things a little deeper.
We can't fight for peace. We need to shift how we approach conflict. If all we can see is "sides", then we'll never understand perspectives. We've been taught there that is only ever the truth, when in reality, there are the truths of all those involved in a situation.
When I worked in Employee Relations, we had a saying, "There are three sides to every story". Eye-witnesses to a crime have frequently proven to be not credible, because each witness is viewing the situation from their own unique understanding of life, through the lens of their own experience and beliefs. They interpreted what they witnessed, as we all do. It's very hard to be truly objective, because our feelings compound things, often muddying our logic. And if we're in a crowd, our consciousness coalesces with those we hang with . . . we can think and behave in ways well beyond our individual norm because what's accepted in this particular crowd becomes acceptable to us. We justify our actions because we feel empowered by our interpretation of events, and can be bolstered by crowd mentality. Our interpretation may be our truth, but it's not the only truth, nor is it likely to be the pure truth of the situation as a whole.
What we can do is learn from our past, by viewing events with the intent of discovery of why they occurred, instead of judgment and asking who was wrong or who started it. Questions like, "What happened here?" and "What was everyone was afraid of?" can bring more clarity and less subjectivity. If we want to find the root cause of the conflict, we need to go to the deepest motivator . . . fear. That's where understanding comes in and things can start to change.
We can't change our skin color any more than we can change if we were born into privilege, so let us stop the blame and shame for our ancestors' behavior or our birth circumstances. We are not responsible for what our ancestors did, but we can change the course of harmful actions started by them. We are responsible for choosing our actions right here and now in our own time, with the understanding that our thoughts and actions affect everyone else around us and future generations. We will someday be the ancestors. What legacy shall we leave for our loved ones?
Let's change our minds.
Let us be present and work with what we have in front of us right now. Let us act with patience and compassion, and recognize that there are many truths to be had in any situation. Let us be kind to one another as we suss the truths and pain out. Everyone here is hurting. Let us remember that some people will be so frightened that it will come out as violence and anger and they won't be able to hear anything we say, even when we do it with kindness. Let us love those people the deepest, for they need it the most. They may not recognize genuine kindness, because they've never experienced it. Kindness only came at a cost for them.
No one wants a war of any kind. No one wins a war. There are only survivors, and the cycle of violence lives on in survivors as trauma. Let us move beyond survival . . . we are so much more.
Right here, right now, let us look one another in the eyes instead of stopping at skin color, or how we adorn our bodies, or who we love, or how we choose to call our god.
Let us look beyond our own fears and prejudices, for we all have them, and they run deep.
Let us stop assuming the worst of one group and the best of another. No one group of people is all bad or all good.
Let us see the individual or group in front of us and interrelate with them in each moment, and let love and understanding be our intention.
May we each find that our courage overrides our fear so we can be our best selves. These are hard days.
Compassion is love in action. May you find it, may you receive it, may you know it, may you be it.
In love & Light,

Friday, March 3, 2017

An Invitation

Each day as the sun warms the earth, we are graced by the gifts of our planet.
Nature provides us with all we need to not only survive,
but be well and whole on every level.
We are a part of the web of life on this planet,
and Nature teaches us how we can be fully balanced within ourselves
and in relation to every other living thing.
We're shown these gifts every day if we're paying attention.

There is no true separation between us and the natural world.
Just as our bodies are made up of billions of tiny atoms,
so too are we the building blocks of our living world.
As things are happening in Nature, so too, are we affected.
Night and day, seasons and cycles influence us
on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level.
Our own health affects the health of the planet.
John Muir wisely noticed:
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

We are all connected, all One, all part of something larger than ourselves.
When we've forgotten that connection, we're incomplete.
That imbalance can reveal itself in different ways:
physical illness; mental instability or unhappiness;
a feeling of something missing from our lives even when things are "good",
or a complete sense of confusion and lack of direction in our lives.

We are part of something greater, attached to all other living things,

dependent on one another for our highest and greatest good.

Feel the Connection...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Greater Than Fear

The U.S. is in a state of vast change on every level. 

Let's be honest...we're all scared and frustrated, no matter which side we're viewing things from. Every one of us has been left out of something, somewhere along the way in this country. 

We cannot change the past, but I am hopeful, because we're learning from it. The inequities and injustice that have been happening for so long are being acknowledged, and we are coming together to do something about them. All our shadows are out in the open so we can heal them.

If we don’t like how things are, we have a rare opportunity to shift our gaze to the change we want to see in the world and go be that change. There is so much unknown right now that it has become the void of creation.

It can be a dark and frightening place, as it requires us to reach deep down inside and see what we're made of. It's messy and sticky and we have to feel our way through, untangling our lies and half-truths along the way to discern what really matters when comfort and convenience are gone. In the darkness and at the bottom, we remember that we are the light. The spark of passion and ingenuity is lit, born of need in the search for truth and purpose. 

Fellow Americans, if we're upset that people are not embracing the president-elect, then we’re not being honest with ourselves. For if we can’t acknowledge both the strengths and weaknesses of our leaders, then we will all continue to suffer the consequences of their combined weaknesses. If we're angry that thousands of people are gathering in Washington DC to stand in solidarity for equal rights for all humans, then we have some inner work to do, because our neighbors are suffering and we have ignored it for decades. That is not okay. If we believe that any leader is going to be our nation’s savior, then we’re not accepting our responsibilities as citizens. We are better than that.

After deep consideration, I am attending the Women’s March on DC – not to protest, but to stand in support of equality and caring for everyone, no matter their gender, skin color, cultural heritage, religion, etc. I march for those who can’t. I march for my fellow humans, in whatever form their body takes and how they choose to adorn it for whatever reason; we are all inherently valuable. I march for diversity because our survival depends on it. I march for access to medicine in all its forms - orthodox and complementary, laughter, hugs, music, art, and nature. I march for justice and our communities – our right to take care of one another so no one is abused - lay citizens, citizens serving in public roles, and those who desire to be citizens. I march for transparent accountability in all levels of government. I march for clean water and open natural spaces because we need them. I march in deference to my ancestors and for the next seven generations. I stand in solidarity with All My Relations on Saturday and every other day, and will not give up until everyone is free or we are all dead. If you need an ally, I am here for you.

I confess that I am nervous to go to DC. I am frightened to be stuck in a gigantic crowd with limited access to water, bathrooms, food, etc. and to have my well-being and safety dependent upon every other person in the city that day. A part of me is panicking about sharing my thoughts here and advertising that I'm going. This is a trust walk of the biggest kind. 

I'm going because I decided that I can't bear to stand in my fear on the sidelines anymore. I'd rather stand for what I believe in, and if I get hurt in the process, then I'll bear the pain. If our ancestors did it, so can I. I stand because others stood for me. I stand for those whose future depends on me. I cannot hand my children a world devoid of clean air, water, food, healthcare, and space to live peacefully with who they love and what they need. I cannot hand them a world where conflict is the only truth. I am finally more afraid of handing them a broken world than I am of doing something about it.

We’re all in this together. We belong to one another. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Grab my hand and let’s get to work. I don’t care who you were in the past, what God you worship, how you look, or how you voted. Let us reach down into the essence of being human and be the miraculous, creative beings that we truly are. It is incredibly hard to remember how limitless we humans are, but we can endure that journey of pushing through obstacles because we always survive when we walk together. And we are so much more than survivors. We are so powerful and innovative, that when we cooperate, we create space where everyone thrives, not just survives. That is equality. That is why I march. I believe in miracles, because it’s a miracle that we humans have made it this long with how deplorably we’ve treated each other.

Let us begin again. It is a new day. We are greater than any fear we have. There is light and hope in every corner of darkness, for we are the light. 

I believe in something greater because I believe in us.

Love and Blessings,

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dear Universe

Dear Universe,

I see that Giant Asteroid 2016 didn't work out, so thanks for that.  I think. 

As you may already know, America has put out a cry for help. 

I have to confess that as a citizen of this country, I did not see how many of my fellow citizens were truly hurting. I was blind to their plight. I did not realize the depth of their unmet needs until last night.

I am now on my knees, wracked with sobs and in shock, now understanding that a majority of us here in the U.S. are so distraught and hopeless that we felt our only choice was to place our faith in a man simply because he wasn’t a politician. We are looking for a savior but forgot that we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for…we’re the ones with the power. We the People have become lost.

Universe, please be gentle with us. Our choice has a big impact on everyone on this planet, and yet we are still young as a nation and as a species. We are still learning, and we have chosen to do this the hard way. We need a little help remembering who we really are. Help us be kind to one another and remember how to work together. Help us remember that everyone is important and we need one another; we can’t do this alone, and diversity is what makes us strong survivors. Help us remember that there really is enough for everyone, and above all, help us face our individual and collective fears with courage and grace. Help us to practice forgiveness. 

To the world nations: I am sorry. Please forgive us and show us mercy, though perhaps we don’t deserve it. Please work with our President-elect and teach him how to serve. He doesn’t know how. Please demonstrate compassion and patience and be better siblings than we have been. 

To the planet: I don’t know what to say, other than I’m sorry and I will continue to speak for All My Relations - the water, the land, the plants and animals, and encourage stewardship of this place we call home. I will find my tribe and we will work together in small communities to feed and care for one another at every level. Nourish us with beauty, fire us with sunshine, bless us with your rains and starlight, and help us discover the small places where hope lives.

To my fellow Americans: I love you and nothing you can do will change that. We have a lot of work to do, my friends. I think we now understand that things need to change immediately, and that starts with us. It starts with forgiveness of all the hurts from the past. We can no longer carry our ancestral and generational anger and wield it like swords of righteousness, for we cut down our allies. We cannot hide behind our religion and expect God to do the work of smiting our enemies. Our enemy is hatred and separation – that is our work to do. This is roll-up-the-sleeve and open-up-the-heart time. We chose this path because we need it. We chose to elect a leader who has never served, so we need to guide him and help him see how all of us fit together in this beautiful tapestry. We have co-created this nation and we are responsible for taking care of one another. Each one of us has a hand on the rudder and we no longer have the luxury of walking away and leaving someone else to steer it.

Now is our time to shine.  We have a unique opportunity before us. Let us take a step together, hand-in-hand, laying down our fears and seeing what miracles may come as we step into the unknown. 

We asked for this challenge, and the only way through it is together. 

I'll admit I'm afraid and it's all very big and overwhelming. Let's hold hands and go together, shall we? 

Love & Light,

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rite to Discriminate

*Note: This post is a serious departure from my usual topics*

I believe our government leaders may be confused, based on some recent activity: Protecting Freedom of Conscience Act, Free Exercise Protection Act, and HB2. In these bills, our representatives are proactively allowing discriminatory actions against a particular subset of people (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) based on religious views, in addition to declaring who may use what bathroom based on whether or not one has a penis. 

I'm really trying to understand what's happening here because it seems to me that our lawmakers are obscenely interested in the workings of its citizen's bodies and whether or not those body parts are worthy of being present and accounted for in different establishments, like public bathrooms. Or if they should be assisted in government agencies where one might apply for and receive legal documents. Or whether those bodies should be acknowledged in places where a citizen may enjoy delicious pastries to commemorate important life events. 

There's been a lot of talk of everybody's rights, so I got to thinking that perhaps the confusion is due to our tricky English language. For example, words like RIGHT and RITE could be easily mixed up. RIGHT can be a noun, adjective, adverb, verb, or exclamation, unlike RITE, which is a noun. 

So I looked up the definitions in good ol' Merriam-Webster. 


  1. 1:  righteous, upright
  2. 2:  being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper <right conduct>
  3. 3:  conforming to facts or truth :  correct <the right answer>
  4. 4:  suitable, appropriate <the right man for the job>
  5. 5:  straight <a right line>
  6. 6:  genuine, real
  7. 7a :  of, relating to, situated on, or being the side of the body which is away from the side on which the heart is mostly locatedb :  located nearer to the right hand than to the leftc :  located to the right of an observer facing the object specified or directed as the right arm would point when raised out to the sided (1) :  located on the right of an observer facing in the same direction as the object specified <stage right> (2) :  located on the right when facing downstream <the right bank of a river>e :  done with the right hand <a right hook to the jaw>
  8. 8:  having the axis perpendicular to the base <right cone>
  9. 9:  of, relating to, or constituting the principal or more prominent side of an object <made sure the socks were right side out>
  10. 10:  acting or judging in accordance with truth or fact <time proved her right>
  11. 11a :  being in good physical or mental health or order <not in his right mind>b :  being in a correct or proper state <put things right>
  12. 12:  most favorable or desired :  preferable; also :  socially acceptable <knew all the right people>
  13. 13often capitalized :  of, adhering to, or constituted by the Right especially in politics I get it. It's very clear right there in #5 - "Straight". 

Maybe our representatives didn't see the part next to it that said <a right line>, ya know, as in geometry? They took it to mean that to be RIGHT is to be straight (as in heterosexual, just to be clear). Maybe they also thought that to have RIGHTS, you need to be straight. I can see how that could be confusing. 

Before we move on to RITE though, we should take a peek at the BILL OF RIGHTS, which will probably clearly outline the right to suppress another's rights, even in a government setting doing a government job, based on personal religious views. Right?


Amendment I 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Hmmm. I assume our representatives were looking at Amendment I, where it states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." I'm guessing they were focused on the prohibiting the free exercise thereof part because otherwise, they might have noticed that the bills they created sounded an awful lot like establishing a government-sanctioned religion, or at least a preference for a specific set of religious beliefs.

And they may have been closer to creating RITES than RIGHTS, but let's check in with Merriam-Webster before we jump to conclusions.

  1. 1a :  a prescribed form or manner governing the words or actions for a ceremonyb :  the ceremonial practices of a church or group of churches
  2. 2:  a ceremonial act or action <initiation rites>
  3. 3:  a division of the Christian church using a distinctive liturgy

Ah, it's all become clear - the darned English language and those perplexing homophones are to blame! (Not to be confused with homophobes. Those are different). 

The religious views of those who drafted and voted for those biased bills must have been focused on RITES instead of RIGHTS. I guess their RITES are filled with hateful speech and actions and they recognized their RIGHT to not be prohibited in their free practice of those RITES. 

Homophones can really cause some of the most awkward and shamefully embarrassing situations! (May also occur with homophobes). 

Whew, I'm glad that's cleared up. Because I can't for one minute believe that Christians would draft legislation that would go against the teachings of Jesus Christ whose instruction was to "Love one another". They clearly were confused by the homophones because these bills urge people to not love one another. 

My Christian upbringing has spent the past few hours standing appalled and stunned in the corner, trying to make sense of it all, but I feel quite confident now in my right to say (Amendment I) that whatever way I line this legislation up, there is NOTHING RIGHT about it (see definition of RIGHT, #'s 2, 3, 4, and 6)