Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Re-filling the Well

I spent the last few days mostly offline as I enjoyed the holidays with my family. It was quite refreshing to be unplugged and in the moment with my loved ones! Today brings the gentle return of my attention to the greater world, and with it, the reflective mood that ascends upon me at this time of year.

The winter holidays have us in a flurry of activity, and we tend to set aside our personal needs to meet holiday deadlines. It can leave us feeling drained, sluggish, and out-of-sorts afterward. We are likely sleep-deprived and perhaps suffering from a little gastric distress in the wake of the celebrations. 

The day after Christmas for my family is our day off. We recuperate from the busy weeks of December, sleeping in a bit and being grateful for the exchange of time with family and thoughtful gifts. It's a day to sit in slowness, taking the day as we like. 

Winter brings us the gift of going within, and the brief respite after holiday celebrations can give us some time to re-fill our wells. It's beneficial to us to take some down-time and allow some extra rest and quiet space to do the things that fill us with joy. We need this time, and it's even better if we can establish a simple self-care routine that we can use on a regular basis. When we don't take care of ourselves, our body puts us out of commission with illness. A little prevention is worth a pound of cure, and we have the right and responsibility to care for ourselves. When we do, we are happier and healthier and that ripples out into the rest of our the people we love and the things we want to do.

As we round the corner to the new year, many people make resolutions, which more often than not dissolve by early February. I had to give up on the concept of New Year's resolutions years ago, as they only left me wallowing in low self-esteem as I failed to meet yet another goal, with no flexibility for the changes that inevitably happen throughout the year. At some point, I realized that most of my resolutions were based on what I thought other people expected of me. That will never be something I can be successful at! 

My personal goals need to be the things that fill me and make me a better person. My goals have to help me become the person I want to be, and I can't just have goals at the beginning of the year. If I'm going to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit and experience growth during the year, I must be open to new things along the way, adjust the current goals, make new ones, and let things go that no longer resonate with me. I must face the things I fear the most. And I must not beat myself up about failures. Failures provide growth, so long as we allow ourselves to look at them and find the gem within the lesson that will help us move forward toward success.

Here's hoping the remainder of 2012 gives you the space to indulge in self-care and the time to reflect on how amazing you are right now, in this moment! May the new year breathe fresh life into your heart and propel you forward into fantastic new ways, surrounded by loving family and friends to support you in goals and growth that bring you joy and peace.

2013 will be full of glorious new things for me to share...special offerings in my newsletters for subscribers, a couple of books I want to publish, classes on herbs, meditation, and Reiki, and who know where else the journey will take me? I promise to give my very best from my heart, and I will share what I can as it comes through me. For now, here's a little something I'm offering for those who'd like to take part...

I'll be sending out a special New Year's gift to all those on my mailing list in the next few days. If you'd like to receive that and other inspirational goodies via my weekly-ish newsletter, you can subscribe to my list in the white box on the upper right side of the page. :)

Love & Light,

Friday, December 14, 2012

For the Children

As the news hit me about the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, all I could do was fall to my knees and allow my heart to break in solidarity with those who have lost their children and family members today. May they be surrounded by the love and prayers that the rest of us are sending out for them. There are no words.

Events like these leave us in shock, harboring disbelief, anger, and raw pain. There is little the rest of us can do right now except light a candle, pray, gather together, and focus on sending their community all the love and light that we can. 

If you feel called, stop on over to the The Loving Tree page and leave your thoughts and prayers there. Together we will hold loving space for the Sandy Hook community in our joined hearts. Many thanks. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December Daze

December seems to sneak up on me every year, in a bash-me-on-the-head kind of way. Last year was particularly difficult for me, as a I dealt with a pinched nerve in my shoulder (think copious shopping and gift-wrapping) and I just couldn't get into the spirit of the holiday season, no matter how much meditation and other things I did to try to lift myself up. I felt like there was no time to enjoy the events of the season, and I was frustrated by the commercialism of why we were buying things for people who didn't need them. I couldn't wait till the holidays were over and swore I'd make changes for the future.

At the end of last season, we threw out the old tree that had dysfunctional lights. I went through the ornaments and got rid of the ones we didn't put on the tree anymore. We parted with the kid's artwork from preschool (they're in high school and middle school now) and looked forward to a new start. I told my family that next year would be different, and I wanted time to enjoy our family and not focus so much on the gifts. I needed to shift our perspective. 

Last week we bought a new artificial tree that looks like a real tree with snow and glittery ice and pinecones on it. The lights were no-fuss and set-up was easy. If I don't add any ornaments to it, I will love it just as it is. We stopped getting cut trees years ago, as I just can't kill a tree for the sole purpose of bringing it into my home for a few weeks and then turn it into mulch. My relationship with trees is too deep to do that, and as we can't plant more trees in our current yard, a live tree with an intact root ball is not an option. I hold no ill-will toward others who choose a live tree, as the sensory experience of a pine or fir is a true gift to have within a home. I simply need to find that joy outside, as it feels most appropriate for me.

I am not stressing over the gifts this year, and I making sure to take time for self-care every day so that I feel good and can do the things I want and need to do with a joyful attitude. I love this time of year, where the trees are stark and you can see the shape of the land. Early mornings provide magical murmurations by graceful starlings against a palette of soft blues, purples, and pinks of the morning sky. This year is about bringing in the joy of every day, taking each moment as it comes. 

Gratitude is helping me keep things in perspective. The shopping I'm doing is within the bounds of love, grateful for my family and friends as I shop. I will be patient at the mall and toy store. I am thankful that we have the money to purchase thoughtful gifts for our children, nieces, and nephews. I will take time to step out in the cold air and gaze at the stars that brighten the skies so vividly at this time of year, freed from the humidity of the earlier months. I will turn down activities that don't fill me with joy, and if there are things I must do, I will shift my perspective so that I do them with a glad heart. 

This year will not be a blur of shopping frenzy and overfilled schedules. What's important to me will be center stage - family, friends, the beauty of our natural world, and days filled with love. Those are the reasons for the season, whatever winter holiday we celebrate.

May your December be filled with days of simple joys that fill your hearts, and may the only daze you feel be from the awe of colored sunrises, brightly lit homes, and the glow of smiling faces wherever you go.

Many blessings,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pause Button

This morning I played the waiting game, as the tech from the electric company was scheduled sometime between "8am and noon" to update our gas meter. These kinds of service calls can be frustrating, as it always seems they show up at the end of the 4-hour window rather than the beginning, leaving us feeling "stuck" and not in control. 

This time I decided to switch up my perspective and be grateful for the pause. I have had the morning dedicated to being at home and getting a few things done here. I've enjoyed the leisurely sipping of my coffee and taking my time doing some mundane things, as well as a little quiet time for myself, which gave me the chance to reflect a bit.

Today brought the gift of seeing how important it is to press the pause button to rest, reflect, and recharge. This is a part of self-care that we need to honor, especially after a time of extreme busy-ness. Every day should have a little space in it for us to step back, take stock of where we are and how we feel, and then decide if we need to adjust our sails in any way. Without this self-care space, we're just moving along, blowing in whatever direction the wind sends us rather than choosing which way we want to go, which can leave us frustrated or apathetic at times.

Perhaps it's simply aging into my mid-40's that has made me start to appreciate how quickly life goes by and is forcing me to look at where I am and what I want to do yet. 

Recognition of your own mortality has a way of grabbing your attention, and pausing for a few moments to see if you're heading in the direction you want to go can shed some light on things that are in your way or let you see if you're off-course. I'd like to live the rest of my life choosing consciously what I want to do and be. 

I'm trimming my sails...

I've come to recognize that I don't want to make time or give energy to things that don't fill me with joy. If it's something that needs to be done but is difficult to be joyful about like getting the car repaired, I can switch my perspective and turn to gratitude, giving thanks for having a reliable auto repair service rather than feel inconvenienced and upset.

Volunteer work must be something that I love, and my expended energy and time doing that work has to be effective and have a positive impact.  

I am striving for relationships that are based in love and integrity. The people in my life that I hold close are amazing souls who love me as I am, receive my love for them in return, and understand the importance of living from our hearts and being true to ourselves. Those who I spend most of my time with will help keep me honest and call my ass out in a loving way when I'm not walking my talk. And I love them for it. A wise friend once told me, "True friends help me to be the person I aspire to be", and she is so right.

My "job" has to be what I love to do and am passionate about to my very core. And it's totally a work-in-progress as I learn to trust my belief that we are meant to simply just be who we are without any pretenses or holding back. We all have something important to give that the greater world needs. And every single one of our individual gifts and talents is needed, even if they seem weird and unlike anyone else's. When we don't share them, the world is missing a very important piece of the puzzle.

Trying to be something that I'm not doesn't serve me or the greater good. I've worked at jobs simply for the paycheck, and frankly, no one is happy doing that. And there were many jobs I was good at, but there were times I dropped my gifts into the wrong environment. That's no good either.

The beautiful thing about this world is that we have each day - each moment really - to start over if we need to adjust our sails to head in the direction we want to go or change the speed. I fully believe that we are simply meant to live as who we truly are, doing what we love. That is our very nature and will bring us back to balance when we feel something is missing from our lives or we feel out of place. 

We are not meant to simply exist, moving from one day to the next without our conscious choosing. If we don't like where we are, we can change it. We might need to start with a change in our perspective first before we can make bigger changes, but we are always in control of our thoughts, beliefs, and intentions. 

We are creators and we are amazing, each and every one of us. Even on our "bad days", when we're learning a lesson we need so we can return to our heart and who we really are, we are innovative and resilient beings who can create something better each moment as we absorb the lessons of life.

I am so grateful for all the gifts of the past which have brought me to the present moment. I'm going to grab that self-care space every day, trim my sails, and glide forward into the life I want. I will falter, get tangled in the rigging by the things that scare me, and may fall overboard when I get distracted or caught up in a storm. And it's all ok. I'll have to just laugh at myself, practice forgiveness, and release perfectionism. Then I'll get back on deck and at the helm again, maybe with a little help from those loving people in my life.

Who's with me?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude

 Thanksgiving will be upon us in just a few days where we take time to retreat, gather with families and friends to celebrate, and give thanks for all we have. And it is good. (Although admittedly, sometimes family gatherings can put the "fun" in dysfunctional if there are stressors in our family member's lives, or people have overindulged, or the turkey wasn't quite completely cooked). But we truly have much to be grateful for - the lessons as well as the blessings.

It has been my goal over the past year to take time to be grateful each day, and it has truly changed my life. This small practice has allowed me to slowly recognize that there is an opportunity for growth from the obstacles and some sort of blessing will always follow. No longer does slow traffic or a sudden change of plans leave me frustrated. I still have bad days and sometimes there are BIG challenges, but I start off in a much better place than I used to be.

And I've been able to notice the small miracles that often weave their way into our lives without much attention...the sun rising in brilliant palettes of yellows and oranges and purples, illuminating the night sky from below, a different portrait each day....the belly-laugh of a child chasing a squirrel, falling in the crunchy leaves, only to get up again - hair flying wildly behind them, to continue their pursuit wholeheartedly....the person who held the door for me at the grocery store, the parent who picked up my child and brought her home, the student who said "thank you for a great program today", amazing family and friends and colleagues that represent the colorful tapestry of our lives. The list of blessings is endless.

And not only has this simple practice (just a few moments each day of thankfulness) helped me to stay calm in the changing winds and taught me to be flexible, bending like a willow in a storm, but my "attitude of gratitude" has rubbed off on my family. I didn't notice it at first, but I suddenly realized that I was steering my kids toward more positive viewpoints when they faced an obstacle, and I was pointing out what they could be grateful for in a situation rather than sitting in judgment and frustration. It didn't require much thought on my simple daily practice of a few moments of gratitude had eased it's way into more and more of my life.

Life is full of brilliant moments - whether we're experiencing the pain of growth and release of old things we no longer need or life is filling us with great joy and abundance after that challenging time of expansion. For this, I am grateful. For my breath in this body, the chance to be here in this time and space, on this beautiful planet, with loving family, friends, and colleagues, and all those who choose to stop by here...thank you. It is an honor to be here, now. 

May your holiday season open your hearts to the abundance that surrounds your life and may you be filled with the complete joy and love that comes with a simple moment of gratitude. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Day, New Start

It's the morning after the elections here in the U.S., and we are a nation of mixed feelings. Some people are crushed by the results, others are joyous and hopeful, and some are in despair. Whether we celebrate or mourn the outcome, we are all in this together. We created the current state of affairs here in our country, and only by working together can we make things better.

And now the hard work begins.

It's a new day. We have the opportunity to change things and bring our country into balance. This will only happen if we can move past our feelings of separate-ness and instead look to focus on our common needs. Underneath our different viewpoints, we all really need and want the same basics: food, shelter, clothing, clean water and air, medical care, a means to support our families, and freedom. Everyone wants these things. Where we differ is how we go about doing it, and in some cases, we've made judgments about who "deserves" what, leaving some people struggling for their very survival.

This is a big job...lots of things need fixed. And it depends on each one of us to do our own part in this process. Our government can't do it all for us. We can't elect officials and then walk away to leave them work and go back to our lives as they were. That doesn't change things.

So where do we start? With ourselves. First, we need to accept the results of the election. Some of us may not like the outcome, but this is what we have to work with. Accept the results, grieve if you must, and then be ready for the next step. Sitting in anger or despair will not make things better. It just makes things bitter.

We can have a great impact by working locally. There are needs we can fill in our own communities, and we need to follow our elected officials to make sure they're doing what we elected them to do. If not, we have the right and responsibility to speak up, respectfully. 

We need to be involved in the changes. Each one of us is important in moving forward together. If your elected officials are acting in a self-serving manner rather than for the good of all the people, speak up. This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We the People have been asleep and things have run amuck as we slumbered.

And it's all ok. It's never too late to change things and work for something better. We start within ourselves. Allow ourselves to grieve if we feel the outcome is disappointing, forgive ourselves and others for the mistakes of the past, and hold onto the HOPE that our great country is known for. We are a nation who can step up, come together, and work for the common good. Our history has proven that...again and again. I for one, am grateful for what we have here in the United States. We are so very fortunate and we should not lose sight of that, even if we feel things are not as good as we'd like at the moment.

Today I give you seed a hope, a DandeLion wish...

May our roots be as strong, deep, and as tenacious as the common dandelion, grounded in compassion and love for our fellow humans and planet. May we work together to nurture and grow a better future for ourselves and our children so that all needs are met. May we blossom into a strong nation who, together, has learned to recognize and appreciate the strengths and differences in each one of is our diversity that helps us to survive. May we all be guided by loving hearts and reach out to be the best that we can be. When times get tough, may we reach into our depths and find common soil to nourish. Together.

I am grateful for this new day, and a chance to start again. I am grateful for the gifts and lessons of the past so that we can be even better than we were yesterday.

Love & Light to All,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Picking Up the Pieces

Hurricane Sandy has left quite a mess in her wake. Some areas have less damage than others, and some are still struggling with the storm itself as this is being written. 

Once the storm has passed, there is always some clean-up. In the case of a hurricane, personal lives meet Mother Nature...people may have lost loved ones, have damaged homes and communities, or have lost animals to the storm. Things have changed. Change is really the only constant we can count on here in this life.

What matters now is how we move forward. Whether we survived intact or had great loss, we can get through this together. Natural disasters have a way of helping us to open our hearts and feel compassion for one another. We check on neighbors, help our communities clean up, and make donations for others in need. We step up and really become the best we can be, caring for one another openly, no matter who they are.

Then typically, our lives return to "normal" and we resume our activities as before the storm. 

I offer a post-Sandy challenge: to remember what was most important to us when we were concerned about our survival. What was critical to take care of? Who were we worried about? Who did we offer prayers and positive thoughts for? 

I would challenge us all to allow our hearts to remain open so that we can continue to be aware of what is really important in life and see those in need as we move forward in time. I would challenge us to release what we don't need anymore...we've had the chance to see what's really important over the past couple days. We have work to do, not just in our physical spaces, but in our hearts and heads too. I'd bet that most of us have been carrying around feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that don't really serve us, and in some cases, may have gotten in our way, hampering our ability to be the loving beings that we are.

I would further challenge us to choose leaders in the upcoming election who have open and compassionate hearts and work to meet the needs of all people. We've gotten to see our current leaders in action over the past few days. How did they do? Are the candidates who are up for election living heart-centered lives? Or are they making empty promises? We need to look at how they live, not just the words they offer us. If they weren't open-hearted, caring people who served others in meaningful ways before being elected, they're not going to do it when they get in office. 

Back to my own clean-up, then on to the community. Love and light to all affected by this storm. May our hearts remain open and everyone receive the support they need as we pick up the pieces.

And for the highest and greatest good, may we elect leaders who allow compassion and love to guide them in all things.

The skies are clearing, feel the light returning...


Monday, October 29, 2012

Weathering the Storm

Natural disasters have a way of getting our attention. If we're lucky enough to have a warning, we get to prepare, and it usually has us running around chaotically trying to organize what we need in anticipation of the event and fearing the worst.

It also brings an opportunity that we might not otherwise take time to do. We are forced to decide what is truly important to us in an impending disaster scenario. We get brought back to our core. We remember that people and our animals are what counts the most and what we need to take care of. We remember that water, food, shelter, and clothing are the critical needs. We get back to basics and leave the rest behind.

We begin to reach out to one another as we recognize that no one can weather a large storm alone, whether it's an event of Mother Nature's doing, or something difficult in our own lives. We need one another. The storms in our lives remind us of that, helping us open our hearts once again to compassion and the truth of what we really need to survive.

May this storm give you the space you need to see the amazing gifts you have in your life. Be grateful, hold your family and pets close, reach out to a neighbor, and work together. 

 Whatever the weather, we'll weather it together.  

Love and light to all,

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Treasure of the Past, Gift of the Moment, and the Wisdom of Grandmothers

I was cleaning out an old box today, and came across a graduation card my beloved grandmother gave me for my high school graduation 26 years ago. My grandmother passed away within a few months of my graduation, so seeing her signature there on the card today caught my breath. And then I read the words of the poem, and tears flowed freely.

I don't know that I truly grasped those words as a bright-eyed and naive young woman, but I do believe that the meaning was captured in my heart. My grandmother planted a seed, unbeknownst to me, perhaps as a last gift before her passing. Isn't it just like a grandmother to give you a treasure that gets buried deeply somewhere, only to be unearthed much later when you're ready to understand it in a whole new way? 

These words are as relevant now as they were then. What a gift to find this again today, and be able to share it with other women in my life. I honor the wisdom of my grandmother, the author of that beautiful poem, and all women, everywhere. May we all shine our light and love with the world.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Art of Self-Care

 "Self-love, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting." ~William Shakespeare

 As the autumn moves along and the cooler weather saunters in, we start our journeys inside. This is the perfect time of year to start doing some extra self-care so that we can avoid the intrepid viruses and flu that come banging at our door as the holiday season approaches.

Our lives are so busy that we often neglect taking good care of ourselves. 

I don't know about anyone else, but my head tends to get full at this time of year from the return of school to the flurry of holidays on their way. I find myself running in circles at times, trying to tackle the stuff on my task list, but it feels like a juggling act where I'm never really quite sure which things are in the air until I've dropped one. I get forgetful, distracted, and very much like a squirrel trying to figure out where to hide her nuts. And somehow at the end of the day, I look at the task list that has nothing checked off, but I know I've been truly busy. It leaves me scratching my head and wondering what I did all day.

Then I start to get the fall sinus congestion, which is in part due to allergies, but it's a reminder for me to step back and anchor my self-care routine. I've come to realize over the years that sinus congestion for me means that my head is full of too much junk, and I need to empty it.

A brief daily routine is just the trick to return me to balance, and it's MEGA important: Meditation, Exercise, and Gratitude for All. It anchors me in every way that I need it. It doesn't have to be complicated or long, but these few moments are critical. When I allow myself to do this simple care routine, everything else falls in place naturally. There's no struggle with anything, because my mind is at peace and able to handle any challenges that come my way. My life is full of more joy when I've cared for myself.

Meditation is how I start and end my day. It can be a few moments or an hour. I start the day with gratitude for the blessings and lessons that have come my way and are continuing to come. Then I sit quietly, maybe playing some light music. As thoughts come, I acknowledge each one and then let them pass. I have a notebook handy in case I remember something critical or need to journal. As I acknowledge and release the thoughts, my head and heart clear, and I feel more at peace to meet my day. At the end of the day, I do the same routine. These few moments of self-care help me find my center, be at peace after a long day, and make a good transition for sleep.

Exercise helps keep me flowing. I hesitate to call it exercise, because for me that word conjures up visions of trying to keep up with Joanie Greggain's oldies workout when I was a teenager, always feeling completely inadequate and awkward. What I really mean is movement. Moving my body in some way each day, even if it's only a few moments of yoga or stretching, releases tension and helps the lymph system do it's job to keep my immune system in top shape. We are not designed to sit all the time. Muscles that are not used become weak and stagnant, and stagnation leads to illness. No thanks! I'd rather give myself 15-30 minutes a day of some self-care than several days in bed with the flu.

Gratitude for All...I make an effort to be thankful throughout my day for everything. Yes, even the things that go wrong. There is a lesson in every challenge, and there is so much amazing goodness on this planet - people, wildlife, beauty - if we just take a moment to see it. Being grateful helps me change my perspective when I get stuck in anger, fatigue, frustration, etc., allowing me to regain my center and choose to do something more effective with the situation in front of me than be upset.

I find a few other things also help at this time of year. Soups and stews with root vegetables and dark leafy greens support our bodies, warming and nourishing us from the inside-out. And plenty of water! It helps moisten our organs to keep things flowing and helps our skin from getting dried out. And if we can end our days and head for bed a little earlier, it would be beneficial to try and get a little more sleep. Our bodies crave it as we head into late fall and winter.

Self-care is how we nourish and strengthen ourselves so we can be at our best and able to do what we want in our lives. If we don't take the time to do it on a regular basis, our bodies will give us the time-out we need. Self-care is not selfish; it's self-sustaining. If we want to do things for others, we need to care for ourselves respectfully first. If we don't respect ourselves and our own needs, we can't give that same respect to others, and our words and actions will come from a place of disarray and disappointment. 

There are too many people and things out there to enjoy and love. If we're stuck in a place of dis-contentedness, then that's what life will serve up to us. A little self-care goes a long way to keeping us centered and choosing from a calm and conscious perspective.

Here's to an autumn filled with splendor and to a self-care routine that gives you the space to enjoy it!

And please see The Apothecary page if you're looking for some herbal support this season. :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Branching Out

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." ~Henry David Thoreau

Yeah, that. Wise words. Wonderful words. And scary.

I'm on the precipice, ready to jump, but not sure where I'll land. So many thoughts and feelings as I stand on the edge, ready to fly, knowing I've spent my life working to get to this time. 20 years in the making to follow my dream of a becoming a holistic wellness practitioner and writer.

But will I hit the cliff instead of flying? Will I get blown off-course by a shear wind? Or will my wings open gracefully, catching the current, sun glistening off my shimmering feathers?

Well, I won't know till I jump. So I'm jumping... 

Please check out "The Apothecary" page where I just posted some tidbits for Fall and Winter. This is just the beginning, I still have lots to do "officially", but wanted to start sharing some goodies as I hear people coughing and sneezing around me. *Bless you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Blame Game, the Ugly Truth, and Ascent from the Pit

A bit of a rant, but please stick around to the end. It gets better. :)

The American culture is in a state of transition, and there is plenty of blame to go around for everything that is out of balance, from the economy to education to energy resources, etc.

Guess what? We're all to blame for what's not working. Every single one of us. If we didn't do it, we allowed stuff to happen. We all played a role here - we co-created the culture we now have.

And what do we have? 

A broken economy. Debt from war we had no place in. We're raping the earth for finite resources that will not sustain us. We're sick from stress-related diseases. We have a broken education system where the teachers are blamed for its failure. We have endeared a culture where both parents now have to work in order to make ends meet, so keeping up with family life and having the energy and time to love and care for our children in the way we want and should is nearly impossible. Our children are falling through the cracks. Parents are overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, and heartbroken. Teachers are as well. We created this culture. 

We have no one to blame but ourselves. We've been asleep. We've given our power to individuals and groups who instead of serving the greater good have served themselves. We bought what they were selling - lock, stock, and barrel. We stopped holding those accountable in positions of power. We somehow believed we didn't have the power to make change wasn't worth the cost. We began to fear speaking out against things we knew weren't right. 

Somehow, money became our god, and our lives began to revolve around it, creating fear of leaving a job where we were treated abysmally. Fear of taking time off because we or our kids were ill. Money has been held above us as a carrot to keep us motivated to work hard and long hours at jobs we don't like at the expense of our families and personal health. 

I don't know about anyone else, but this is not my version of the American dream.

I would venture a guess that most of us want balance with our families, dependable jobs that we like and where we're treated with respect, an education system that is flexible and can meet the needs of all our children, the opportunity for religious and spiritual practices that do not harm others, and a government that serves all the people.

We need to unify. We need to come together, set our egos aside, and find a better way. We have gotten to a place where I don't think anyone is truly happy. The people at the "top" are in fear of losing all they have. The people at the "bottom" have nothing to lose. Those in the middle are stuck in the muck, trying to find balance for all.

The way we get out of this is by starting to live by making heart-centered choices, which stem from LOVE. I truly believe this is how we can save ourselves, because this is the only thing I've seen work over and over again. When we make decisions from the standpoint of Love, no one gets hurt. We all can have what we need, and then some. Heart-centered choices have us aligning with things we love, allowing compassion to guide our decisions so that everyone gets what we need. A simple answer for a complex problem.

But Love is not easy. It's way harder than fighting. Loving others means we have to set aside our egos and selfish desires. And that right there, is some hard work. But we humans are amazing creatures, and we Americans can do the hard work - we've always done it. We are better than we have been behaving. We can turn this around. 

It starts with each one of us. You don't have the change the world, just start with yourself. We start by making loving choices in our lives...shifting our thoughts and words and actions. We need to work together and seek out what we have in common rather than focusing on our differences. 

What do we have in common? We all love our children and want the best for them. We all want the means to feed, clothe, and shelter our families. We all want reliable energy sources that are sustainable. We all want freedom. We need to be free to express ourselves in every way and not feel oppressed by anyone else. If your choice results in hurting another or making someone feel separate, it's not from the heart and it's not Love.

I'm talking about an overhaul here...we need to shift. We can do this. I know it, I feel it. 

We're pretty much at the bottom of the pit from my perspective. And that's a good thing, because it means we have to be creative to get ourselves out of it. The old ways stopped working, so now we have an opportunity to try new things. And if they fail? We get back up and try again. That's the American dream.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Heart-Centered Healing

My attention has been drawn lately to those who are living with debilitating chronic health conditions. The pain and immense change to their lives has been nothing short of disturbing, and ailments like auto-immune disorders leave us at a loss for answers. Some symptoms can be controlled, but there seems to be very little healing going on. My heart goes out to those who suffer in this manner, and I'm wondering how we can begin to approach healing in our culture a little differently. I think we're missing something. 

We are complex beings and everything in our lives and bodies is integrated. When we compartmentalize and try to separate out our health from our job, family, friends, environment, etc., we do a disservice to ourselves, and we are incomplete. We are related to everything in our world...our health, our family, our jobs, our planet. All are connected. 

If we are to be well, we need to address all our needs: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And by spiritual, I don’t necessarily mean religion – I mean our beliefs and how we see ourselves fitting into the whole. Our beliefs give our life structure, governing our perceptions, and it is from this point where we choose our life.

When we are ill, injured, heartbroken, or stressed, we tend to want a magic pill to fix things so we can just keep on doing what we were doing and get back to our lives.  We’ve lost the ability to recognize that our body is telling us we’re out of balance somewhere and that we need to honor the time-out. Sometimes our body forces us to step back and do self-care because we won't stop otherwise. The time-out is for us to retreat, reflect, and recover. An illness is an opportunity, and a lesson I've repeated more than a few times myself.

So thus we turn to “medicine”, which can be very powerful if we connect with the right remedy. Medicine is more than something we take or have done to us - medicine comes to us in many ways. Sometimes it’s the neighbor who takes a few minutes to check in on us when they haven’t seen us lately, sometimes it’s the friend who stands by us when our world is falling apart, and other times it’s the sunny sky and fresh air that provide the needed balm. Medicine comes in many forms, and we all need something different at different times. We are each unique, and therefore, our “medicine” must be unique as well.

Medicine is that which helps us to heal. It may be a person, an herb, a drug, a procedure, a walk outside, a wholesome meal, music, or a host of other things that nourish and rejuvenate us on several levels. What we need to realize is that we are whole beings, and medicine is not just about what we ingest to clear an infection, it is also about the support (or lack of it) we receive during illness and how we care for ourselves. Sometimes part of the medicine is realizing that we don’t have a good support structure in our lives or we’re in a job or activities that don't provide balance for our family and we need to make some changes. Other times, we get to see the gifts of wonderful family, friends, and colleagues who help us recover. Our time-out is an opportunity to reflect...what have we not been paying attention to and what do we need to change?

The right medicine is transformational. It helps us transform that which was out of balance physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. There are gifts within the retreat of illness, whether the symptoms lie in our body, mind, or heart.  Reflection gives us the chance to check in with our spirit – our belief system – and see if we need to make any updates. Sometimes we structure our beliefs in such a way that we’ve placed ourselves right into a corner. That doesn’t give us very much room to grow, and stagnation leads to sickness.

The journey to wellness can be a long and arduous one at times. Healing requires us to change in some way. And far too often, we view the change that we need to make as more painful than the symptoms we're experiencing. That kind of thinking keeps us trapped and we'll find ourselves right back where we started. We keep ourselves in the corner.

The people who I’ve seen recover over the years are the ones who recognize that they are their own healer. They seek out those who can help them recover physically and mentally with western medicine, alternative medicine, or a combination. But they also re-evaluate their beliefs and learn who the people are in their lives that they can count on. They release relationships, jobs, activities, homes, or habits that no longer serve them or have been harmful. They have discovered that they are multi-faceted beings, and becoming well and balanced requires adjustments on many levels, not just one. They change their perceptions and they change their lives, letting their hearts lead. That is powerful medicine. I've watched people move from a very structured, inflexible and painful life to one of complete freedom and joy, even with physical disabilities. They might have been at the bottom of the pit before they realized what needed to change, but when they made that discovery, they lit up with a flame of passion and moved forward towards a better life.

We are each our own healer and have the power within us to be well and whole. When we choose our thoughts, words, and actions from our very center - our heart - we find the healer inside. When we choose healing practices and practitioners who feel right to us and listen to our concerns (whether they be from a medical or alternative model), we can truly begin the healing process. There are some of us who may never be "cured" on recover completely from disease, but we can come to a place where we accept ourselves as we are and recognize that we are more than a physical body. Our worth as humans is not in just our physical form.

Medicine is all around’s the people who love us without any conditions. Nature, laughter, and gratitude are all healing partners. When we need outside support, we should seek someone who will help us, not a set of symptoms. We are sooo much more than that. The right medicine is helps us heal our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. There are many phenomenal practitioners out there who can help us. Doctors, chiropractors, dentists, counselors, herbalists, Reiki practitioners, massage therapists, and so many others are serving their communities from their hearts. 

If we take time to reflect on our lives and be truly honest with ourselves about what is out of balance, we can begin our healing journey. Being honest with ourselves is the hardest part. Making changes has it's challenges, but by following our hearts - what we feel and know to be right for us - is how we regain our health and wholeness. And that process will be different for each one of us, in a series of steps and often missteps along the way.

If we allow our hearts to lead and let our minds serve our hearts, we would find the healing we need, not only for us, but for our whole world. If something in our life doesn't feel right, it isn't. I've been fooled many times by my own logic, but I've yet to be failed by my heart and intuition.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Moment is Now

Sometimes we have a revelation, an epiphany that we wished we had discovered years ago. And there is no other way to discover it except to come to the conclusion ourselves. No matter how many people tried to tell us or show us or make us understand, we didn't see it. Not until the experience presented itself so that we could understand up close and personal.

Almost a year ago, one of my dear friends lost her police-officer husband in the line of duty. It was a normal evening when he went off to serve as he always did, and he died doing what he committed his life to doing. In the blink of an eye, his life was ended, and her life was changed.

There are a thousand ways to grieve but no words to take the pain away from my friend. There's no "undo" button that we can click to change things. I've believed for a long time that as long as nobody died, we have the chance to fix our mistakes and make amends. But when someone dies, there's no more chances to fix things. The only thing we can do in this life is to be proactive and not miss opportunities in the first place.

My friend is an amazing woman. And the reason I say this is not because she's completely handled the whole thing with a dignity and strength that seems more like a super-hero than human, but because she and her husband lived a life of service, quietly, and they made every moment count together. That's where she draws her strength from. She didn't leave anything unsaid to her husband. They knew the commitment they made when he decided to be a police officer, and they moved forward in life together, savoring each moment.

They recognized that the small things they did each day could make a positive difference in the world, even if it was only to the homeless man who received a coat from the back of the patrol car or the starving feral cat no one else even noticed. They were wise enough to consciously choose their life together and live each moment. Each moment counts. All the little moments are the ones that create our life and define our own personal legend.

As we come up on the anniversary of his death, what's on her mind is to celebrate life and not death. The last few moments of a person's life is not what defines him or her. There's oh so much more!

We get a finite term on this planet, in these bodies. Celebrate life with those you love, NOW. Don't wait till they're gone to honor their birthday. Live now, live your passion every day, serve others in some way that resonates with you and brings you joy. Don't wait for joy - run out to meet it. Forgive, a lot. Love even more. Be honest with your thoughts, words, and deeds. Be respectful. Share. Give what you can and receive what others offer to you in return. We're in this life together here. Make every moment count. Choose consciously. Every moment is yours to create something new, something amazing, something more wonderful than you've ever dared before.

Tell the people you love that you love them. More importantly, show them. Make time for them. Take care of yourself and others. Don't worry so much - it blocks the joy. Let your heart grow with compassion, open your eyes to those in need, let by-gones be by-gones, and live, now. You create the future in this very minute. Don't be afraid - there are so many good things out there to experience! Find out for yourself and challenge your limits.

If we choose each moment and live each day in a conscious way, there are no regrets. If something traumatic happens, like the death of a loved one, we can draw strength from knowing that we savored the living moments. If we commit ourselves fully to our lives, doing things that are our passions, we have fully lived.

The moment is now.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Stressing the Limits

This year has been one of discovery, sometimes wrapped in beautiful-colored wrapping, and some of it plainly sitting there staring up at me, as a pile of poo. The ugly truth.

I've learned a lot about myself, and continue to break down the lies I've told myself every day. I've come to discover that ultimately, I've been living life SCARED. And that's...well, disappointing. I was aiming for SACRED. (You know, making every moment count, honoring myself and all things in this life). Oops.

Having been given enough experiences in the past few years to make me realize that I'm a perfectionist, things now makes a lot more sense. I had just never delved this deep into who I am. I've always considered  other people's opinions of me very important. When someone was angry or disappointed in me, I tried to do everything I could to make up for it. I never realized until this year, that people's judgments of me are about them, and not me at all. Others are judging me through their own experience/belief-tinted glasses. There are so many times I tried to please people who just couldn't be pleased, because they themselves were so unhappy. I just didn't know it at the time.

Let's face it: I'm a typical Libra. I want harmony in all things, especially relationships. I strive to be loved and please others all the time, and try to make others feel loved and happy as well. When life doesn't go that way, I feel awful. When conflict occurs, I feel it in my core, and it hurts. It doesn't matter whether that conflict is between myself and others, or between others that don't involve me at all.  I ache. I feel it. I never understood why some people just didn't like me or actually worked against me in certain jobs or volunteer groups. I'm a good person, and despite that, there have been times that I've felt worthless, because I allowed other people to make me feel that way. There have been too many times that I didn't recognize my own worth and I trusted other people's advice instead of following my own gut. Let's just say that there have been a few setbacks due to these types of things.

Here's what I've learned: life is all about perceptions. I was taught that when I earned by BA in Psychology, but life has been the real teacher for me. We all interpret life through our own experiences, and make judgments about the world based on our own perceptions. The beauty of that is two things. One, we can breathe, and realize that not only do we not need to validate our life by anyone else's standard, but we actually are born to live our life guided by our own instincts and passions for what gifts we bring to this world. Two, because every belief we've ever had is what we've chosen to accept, we can choose at any time to re-define our beliefs, and thus change our perceptions and actions. This is a powerful place to stand!

As I sat this afternoon and was visioning what I wanted to do next in my life that resonated with me and my family, I felt myself tense up and start worrying about how we would pay for things, how much time would stuff take, where would I get the resources to do what I wanted, what if/when/where/how, etc., and all those other negative thoughts that creep in when we take on something new and big and we're scared. I suddenly realized that I had worried myself right into a tension headache, when really, the stuff I'm concerned about is probably fairly simple to manage. The stress? I would have to think and behave differently, and I was concerned about the worse-case scenarios. Sigh.

So now instead of letting limits stress me out, I'm gonna stress those limits till they break, and see what amazing new things are out there are awaiting for me, and for everyone. We're really good at getting in our own way and thinking the worst of ourselves and everyone else out there. It's time to see how great we each really are, and allow ourselves to just be who we are, doing what we do best. There's no stress in that at all, once we let go of those limits.

Love and luck to all...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Speaking Our Truth

 A wise minister once said something that stuck with me, "Speak the truth with love".

Speaking our truth with love is expressing our needs, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings in a way that is honest and respectful to ourselves and others. The words we say and how we choose to say them makes a huge difference in how they're received by others.

When we find ourselves in a situation that feels out of place for us, we need to be able to step away and say, "no thank you". We shouldn't judge or be offensive in expressing ourselves, but we do have the right and responsibility to withdraw our support and energy from things that are not right for us or harm us and others. When we stay with things that we know don't fit us, we become miserable. Sometimes we fail to act until the pain of staying in a place that we don't belong is worse than the fear of speaking our truth. And then we speak our truth in an explosion, and not usually with love.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~Anais Nin

Speaking the truth with love is not easy. I've heard plenty of people speaking their truth, but it often comes out in a blaring-in-your-face kind of way. That feels offensive and is ultimately ineffective, because no one wants to be spoken to in that manner and people stop listening. If we find ourselves shouting our truth, we need to step back and review it, because when we explode like that, it usually means we're being defensive and it might not be truth at all.

Speaking our truth with love takes courage and consideration. It requires raw honesty with ourselves, defining our needs well enough to stand firm in them, and then actively working to find a way to lovingly and respectfully express them. Speaking our truth in love means change will follow because we've come to something in our life that doesn't resonate with who we are and what we believe is right. If we mustered up the courage to speak it, we have gotten to the point where change is needed.

And when we start making changes, there will be resistance. Change is uncomfortable. Most of us would rather suffer silently in the comfort zone than make waves and disrupt the peace, even when we know at our core that something is wrong and that there really was no peace in the first place.

And there are times that despite how clearly and lovingly we phrase something, we can still feel like we're not being truly heard and we're greeted with a harsh response. It can leave us reeling and questioning what we could have done or said differently.

Every person has a different experience on this planet. When we communicate with one another, we operate under the assumption that someone can understand exactly what we mean. We are each unique genetically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly, experientially. No two of us understand life in the exact same way, because of our individual experiences and perceptions. And frankly, at times, words are woefully inadequate to express what we mean.

So someone can speak their truth in love, and we can still receive it in offense, because our life experiences define our interpretation of what they said. In other words, we filter it through our ego, which is quite the opposite of love. We seem to take the stance that if someone decides to walk away from something, we assume that they think we're idiots for sticking around. Our egos get in there and make us hear that "they think they're better than us" or, "they're saying my way/thoughts/beliefs/feelings are wrong", even though that's not what they said nor meant at all. We receive through our egos, a lot. And way too often. I've done it plenty of times myself.

The only thing I truly have control over is me - my thoughts, my words, and my actions. I can't control how other people receive those. I can only make my best effort to express myself lovingly, and then I need to let go of it and move forward. It's none of my business what other people think of me. If I know in my heart that I have done the best I can to think, speak, and act in love whenever possible, then I have lived authentically and have no regrets. What someone else thinks of me is truly about them, and not me at all. They are judging through the lenses of their own life and not mine.

Someone who is stuck in fear and uncertainty will not be able to receive in love, no matter how tenderly something is said or done. We can express ourselves openly and clearly and with as much love as we can, and sometimes, people still can't truly hear us. And we'll need to keep moving forward anyway, because when we realize that continuing to do the same thing over and over doesn't serve us, or worse, is harmful to us or others, we have to make a change.

We are diverse, logical, and creative thinkers, and it behooves us as a species to listen to one another, especially when we differ. No one of us can come up with a solution to the world's problems. We need to do it together. If we shut down every time someone offers a different idea or opinion, we all lose.

Lies and pretending do not serve us. We are each unique beings, with our own experiences, beliefs, knowledge, and gifts. We will clash over opinions and decisions at times, and we will make a lot of mistakes. We need to be open to receiving someone else's truth and be able to speak our own truth without doing the aerobic miscommunications we are so good at: jumping to conclusions, hurling insults and judgments, and tossing out the baby with the bathwater.

Maybe we could try something new: speak to one another in honesty and love, and more importantly, open up with our hearts and listen in return. I think we can put the "kind" back in humankind. It's in there, just below our egos. If we can push ego aside for a few minutes, we can hear a lot better.

Love & Light,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rooting Where We Stand

It's been an intense few weeks. It's summer and things are hot and burning - wildfires in the west, drought conditions in much of the country, and chicken empire CEO's.

The whole Chick-fil-A thing has been a comedy of errors. Businesses do have a right to operate their business based on their values, so long as they're not violating current law. Cities should not have the right to disallow businesses because of the owner's religious beliefs. Consumers have the right to patronize businesses they like and agree with, and those who disagree with a business owner's practices and policies have the right to take their business elsewhere.

I acknowledge and honor and agree that we have religious freedom in this country, and the Chick-fil-A CEO has the right to say he doesn't believe in same-sex marriage. I read an article that talked about business owners needing to stand on two feet in their values. Bravo, Mr. Cathy. You've done just that.

That being said, personally, I think Chick-fil-A food is terrible. But I wouldn't eat there now even if I liked it, because I won't stand behind a company that funnels money to groups that are actively working against other people. It's discrimination. You can't hide under the umbrella of religious freedom and actively discriminate against other people and expect things to be hunky-dory. Especially when the religion you're hiding behind is supposedly based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Do not call yourself a Christian if you cannot emanate the actions of Jesus, especially the hard ones where you have to love your neighbor. There was no "except".

Jesus sat with the lepers and prostitutes. He said judge not and love one another. If you can't do that, please don't call yourself a Christian. Jesus spoke one another.

I believe in Jesus' teachings. I was raised a Christian, but don't refer by that moniker anymore because it's been tainted. Tainted by alleged holy men, leaders of various religious organizations, doing terrible things to children and women, stealing money from their parishioners and cheating on their wives. Fortunately, I know some wonderful, good Christians who DO live and love like Jesus did, and some of them are gay. I'll hang with them. Those of you hanging out at Chick-fil-A because you think that's where Jesus is, you've been mislead.

Jesus is in the streets with the homeless, working with the social workers and in schools and daycares, he's with children and animals and women who've been neglected and abused, with kids who are being bullied, the mentally ill, the indigenous people, working with teachers who are made to teach without adequate resources, the environmentalists who are trying to keep this planet functional, and with every person who has been discriminated against for being poor, or the wrong skin color, weight, height, and every other thing that we persecute one other for. 

Jesus hangs with the lowest of the low. He's not been in the board room lately, because no one there is listening.

We root where we stand. If we stand still long enough, we become fed by those around us rather than choosing for ourselves, whether it's nutritive or not. Some ideas and beliefs are poisonous, and that leaves us standing in muck. The concept that any one person or religion or thought or opinion is the only way and is more valuable than others is a fallacy. Every person and every living thing on this planet is connected and important. Every one. And for those who believe in the concept of Intelligent Design, what does the Creator think about the harsh judgment of his creations?

The strength of humans is in our diversity. When we choose to see the differences as bad, we separate ourselves from all the possibilities of the good we could have had and the good that we could have done, together.

Every human being has the right to food, clean water and air, shelter, medical care, and love. Every other living thing on this planet has the right to those things too. When one of us suffers, we all suffer. We can't drown the suffering in money or hide it under religion and try to pretend it doesn't exist. We're better than that. We're intelligent, creative beings, and we can solve this. There's no need to point fingers, we all had a part in this creation. Let's try again.

Jesus got down in the muck and suffered with all those suffering. He gave up his life in the hopes that we would notice where he had chosen to stand, so that we could see what still needed to be fixed after he left, leaving his life as an example. Even if you're not a Christian, he left a message that is good for everyone...Love.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Confessions of a Closet Perfectionist

This morning a picture crossed my Facebook page that caught my attention. It had a list of the months of the year, where you looked up the month you were born and it listed a defining quality of your personality. Being born in October, I was anxious to see what it said.

October = "Born the perfectionists"

What?! The other months had things like nicest, sexiest, sweetest (although February was "craziest"). I  was expecting "flexible, peace-maker, easy to get along with" or something like that. Perfectionist was the complete opposite of what I was thinking. I really don't expect perfection from anyone. I'm an optimist, and I know that we're all human, and no one's perfect. I believe that. I spend plenty of time laughing at my own mistakes and recognizing it's how we grow, and not making a big deal of the mistakes that other people make. My experience has been that "perfectionists" tend to judge and look down upon others and their imperfections. I work really hard to be the opposite of that. Honestly, I think perfectionism is a very stressful way to live. And I think most of the people who know me would agree that I have a pretty positive outlook on life, so what's with this "perfectionist" thing? I chalked it up to a goofy little Facebook thing and went on about my day.

While running my errands, I began thinking about this long research paper I've been working on for my herbalist class (it needs to be 40-60 pages in length). I was thinking that I hadn't gotten as far as I had wanted with it and it's due next week. I went through a laundry list in my head of how I could have better spent my time, what better resources I could have used than what I have, and had I really put all the effort into it I could have up to now?

And all of a sudden, "Born the perfectionist" comes ringing through my head.

OMG. I resemble that remark! Now that's just perfectly ridiculous.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm forgiving of other people and their imperfections, and yet I am expecting  myself to be flawless, have done more, better, etc. If someone else had told me about research they had just unearthed and obscure little things they had found that would add some rich history to their paper, I would have been impressed. If someone else had explained they needed a little more time to make sure they understood the new research and figure out how to incorporate it so that their paper flowed well and was accurate, I would have understood and been supportive. But instead I judged myself to be not good enough, wondering how I could have been better and gotten this done more timely instead of seeing the value of what I'd already accomplished, not to mention the amount of learning that already took place.

Oh boy. This was an eye-opener. I really didn't know this was how I saw myself. That might explain a lot about my life. *Sigh* How many times have I seen that quote that the things you regret are the ones you didn't do? I'm pretty sure that perfectionism gets in the way of the doing. Or at least I'm pretty sure that's been the case in my life.

Perfectionism is just another form of fear. It was lurking beneath the surface, rearing it's ugly head where it didn't belong. And it was aimed at a place that I couldn't see - at me. It's easy to tell when I'm being critical or judgmental of others. It's harder to see when you do it to yourself.

So for all of us born in October and all the other "closet perfectionists" out there, I say this:

We are all perfect, as we are. In our jammies or our dress clothes, with our hair askew or primped, dishes in our sinks or spotless counters, driving a BMW or an old pickup.

What matters is that we show up in our lives, for who and what is most important to us, doing the things we love. We get up every day and give it our all, whatever "all" may be that day. Some days will be AWESOME, where we go running out to meet the day. Other days start off as a long walk to the coffee pot, followed by a series of challenges. Sometimes we'll trip and fall, and other times we'll soar. We're gonna make mistakes, but it's probably better to at least try to fly than to stand on the edge and wonder what it's like. At the end of each day, if we've given everything we could, then there's no regrets.

And for all that we didn't get done or mistakes that were made, we must forgive ourselves and let them go. Tomorrow is another day. And if we don't get another tomorrow, then at least we gave it our all today. I can't think of anything more perfect than that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ebb, Flow, and a Dying Microwave

Sometimes it's the little things that can just set our day wrong from the get-go, and it's hard to put it back right...

Hubby wakes me up before he leaves for work this morning, with the announcement that the microwave is dead and he's unplugged it and remove it from the kitchen. Apparently it had some sort of seizure around 4am, with the screen going all crazy-blinky and making beeping sounds in it's last breath. I sigh, and several thoughts hit me all at once:
  • DANG. Microwave shopping was so not on the list or budget for this week.
  • Oops! Gratitude first - Thank you for not going out in a ball of flame. :)
  • Hey - I feel kinda like that microwave sometimes. Like I'm just trying to stay in the flow of things, but people keep popping open my door and pushing my buttons. Sometimes I wanna have a blinky-bleepy seizure and stop working too!
  • Then I feel kind sad, because none of us were awake to honor the passing of that reliable cooking device. There were really no signs that it was dying. It just happened, in the middle of the night. Was it bleeping, "Goodbye cruel world! or "So long, and thanks for all the popcorn!"? Had we known it was time, maybe we could have said a few thank-you's before bed.
I had a plan for today. It was lovely. I had some things I needed to do, but the day wasn't crazy-busy. Now I'm annoyed. I don't want to think about a microwave, I had plenty of other things to think about. This is messing up my Feng Shui. I am not in my happy place. I'm normally a positive person, but today, this just brought be down. <Ebb>

I grab some coffee and step outside to sit in the sunshine and regroup. The cat starts yowling. I ignore her and try to put myself in a place of gratitude for this beautiful weather, the fact that it was the microwave that died and not the coffeepot, and all the other blessings that are coming today. Ah, ~flow~

I go into the kitchen and stare at the empty hole above the stove. My 11 yr old daughter wanders in and wants to know how we're going to make breakfast without the microwave. I point to a frying pan and walk away. The cat starts yowling again. She's been fed, petted, the litter box is clean. There is no reason to be whining. <Ebb>

I look at the cat and say, "Stop it. Go lay down." There is no question in my voice. Apparently she knows I've had enough, so she curls up in the corner. ~Flow~

The rest of the morning is a series of ebb and flow: some smiles from friends and grimaces at the other things I've discovered I need to do. My natural energy today is to be whiney because stuff has gotten in the way of the things I planned and actually need to do.

The only way I can shift from ebb to flow today is by changing to gratitude. Some days that's a longer journey than others. The microwave dying really shouldn't be putting me over the edge - I'm normally a go-with-the-flow gal, but that's just where I am today. So I will honor that space that I'm in - it's okay to feel off-balance some days, but it's not okay to spew that upon others. So I'll keep shifting back to gratitude when I'm ebbing...

I give thanks for the sun and children (even though they keep interrupting those few moments of flow) warm cup of coffee....the home we have...the wonderful family and friends in our lives...

I know the blessings will keep coming, the more I shift and be grateful.

And I can also say that the groceries probably aren't happening, and we're getting pizza for dinner... ~Flow~

Love & Light,

Friday, June 22, 2012

Synchronicities: Grandmothers, Water, & All My Relations

First, a warning: this is a loooong post. I think it probably fits into the "babble" category. What does one call a blog that babbles? A blobble?

But I had to write. I was no less than compelled to share what is contained within. I won't apologize for speaking from my heart and sharing my experiences in the hopes that someone might find a small nugget that's helpful & meaningful. But it is fair to say that you might wanna grab a cuppa before you read further. I considered dividing this "blobble" into three separate posts, but it needed to maintain continuity, so I'm doing as I'm guided. The post is in three sections though, so you could squeeze in a well-timed bathroom break. ;)

I will apologize for any misspellings, incorrect grammar, and all those sorts of things that can happen when stuff just comes pouring through and you gotta get it down. This was torrential rain, so please bear with me!

When the universe speaks, it pays to listen. Did you ever have a time when you kept running into a certain person or you had a running theme in your life? I've discovered that there is no such thing as a coincidence. When repeated patterns or ideas or people step into my life, it's time to stop and figure out what this is all about. We are a part of the web of life - everything we do is connected to so many other things. I feel the need to share my most recent string of coincidences that started in May, because my life has changed:
  1. I was invited to attend a workshop featuring the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers who were visiting Omega Institute in NY,
  2. I had been teaching a lot of programs about water (ponds and streams) in my work as a Naturalist, with specific info about the wildlife and the effects of human activity on the health of our local water, and
  3. I am working on a research paper with the topic of medicinal plants in Delaware, and had scheduled a visit to our local Herbarium to do some research work.
So here is how this all has played out in the month of June (and it's not quite over yet). I felt compelled to share my story of these three synchronicities, the events that followed, and wisdom gained. And I highly recommend that when "coincidences" appear in your life, wake up and pay attention. Sometimes they're a warning, and sometimes amazing things happen that you could have never planned...

GRANDMOTHERS <Enter Synchronicity #1>
I've been wanting to meet the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers for several years, but could never make it to their gatherings. I sat staring at that email invite, and I knew I was finally going. Not only was the gathering timed perfectly for me to take the time away from my family, but the tuition had been drastically reduced for this one event. I could go. Everything had opened up in such a way that I could go. I must be ready to receive their wisdom - finally!

The Wisdom of The 13 Indigenous Grandmothers: These women, from different indigenous cultures around the world, have been traveling since 2004 to spread messages of peace and love, and remind people to take care of one another and our planet, because we're all connected, and what happens to one, happens to all. They believe that teaching others about some of their traditional ways could help bring peace into the world and more sustainable living.
I went and grabbed every bit of wisdom those Grandmothers were willing to dispense. Words cannot adequately describe the experience of spending 5 days with these loving women. We were honored to have 7 of the 13 Grandmothers with us, and they shared their stories of their traditions and personal experiences, hoping to inspire others to live in a more sustainable and loving manner. They have each had many challenges in their lives, with loss, poverty, upbringing in religions other than their own, and yet...they are so GRATEFUL for every blessing they receive. Every good thing, and every lesson that they learn from. They are thankful for every single thing! They thanked us at every meeting for being there and taking time from our families to listen to what they had to say. They prayed for our families at home, for every living thing on the planet, and for us to help bring the world into a better place so that the next 7 generations would still have a place to live and thrive. They took turns to demonstrate prayers in their own languages and traditions, and I felt so honored to have been witness to that.

The Grandmothers blessed each one of us in their own healing way/tradition. We cried together for the current state of the world, we prayed for peace and love in our own hearts so we can share that with our communities, and we prayed for courage to continue moving forward in our lives in a sustainable way so that 7 generations from now there will still be a planet that can sustain life in a meaningful way. These women pray in a way that I could only think of as putting the rest of us to shame who claim to pray. Every word was from the heart - honest, compassionate, grateful. Every request for help/guidance was for "all my relations". Absolutely stunning, bringing me to tears on many occasions. Life is sacred, reverent. They honor one another, no matter the differences in traditions and beliefs. Everything is sacred and from the Creator. This is their life. There is no separation from that which is Sacred. All is sacred.

The Grandmothers shared their experiences, their loves, their pain, and their ways, so that others can learn and understand that respect (love) for every living thing on this planet will bring us back to a place where we all have what we need - not only to survive, but be well. These beautiful women, the eldest being in her mid-80's, are traveling around the world to share their wisdom and take part in councils for clean water and other important human rights issues. We all need clean water, air, food, shelter, and love. These Grandmothers are walking their talk and getting things done. Most of us wouldn't have the courage or stamina to stand and do what these women do, on behalf of all their relations (all living things), not just native people. I am in awe.

WATER <And now, Synchronicity #2>

One of their biggest concerns of the Grandmothers is clean water. Grandmother Agnes put it plainly...water is a human right. Every living thing needs water. No one should have to pay for it and everyone should have access to clean water. As Grandmother Agnes was speaking, it hits me - I had just spent the month of May teaching more water-related programs than I ever have, with a focus on the wildlife that lives there and more importantly - the human activities that effect the water quality. I've always been more of a "forest" and "land" girl, as my background knowledge is more about plants and land ecosystems, not aquatic. The health of our local water was already on my mind and I was planning to find out how to participate in a local stream watch program. Grandmother Agnes challenged us further...she said to thank the water, every time we drink, brush our teeth, flush the toilets, etc. The water can hear us! Thank the water - we've done a lot to damage it, but we can start to make amends by thanking it. If this sounds too crazy to believe, please see the work of Dr. Emoto, who has done unprecedented work with water, having created a way to photograph water crystals and their response to positive and negative treatment:

ALL MY RELATIONS <Wait for it...Synchronicity #3>
 This section is a little have to read a bit before seeing how all the things connect, so now might be a good time for a quick break. :)

One of the things that touched me deeply about the Grandmothers is their sharing of how some of them were forced into a Catholic education or sent away from their people to learn in what I'll call the "white man's way" (my words, not the Grandmother's). They still remember many of the songs and other things they learned during those early years and those memories are not bad ones, but just a piece of their history where their conquerors thought the white man's way was better. Many indigenous people have suffered deeply with the loss of their lands, traditional food, and their medicine (plants). Grandmother Margaret Behan, a Cheyenne of Montana, is taking a courageous journey in re-tracing the Trail of Tears (the exodus of the Cheyenne in 1878) on horseback to reclaim the Cheyenne heritage and bring the horses home. On the Trail of Tears, countless Cheyenne/Arapaho and their horses were killed. As Grandmother Margaret takes this journey, she is doing deep forgiveness work on behalf of her people and bringing healing back home. How many of us would be willing to undertake this difficult and emotional work? Grandmother Margaret has recognized that healing begins with forgiveness, and this world is in desperate need of healing. And she is Relentless in her work, despite being overwhelmed with this great task. I am so grateful for her, as it benefits us all.

To hear the stories of how the Grandmothers had their heritage brushed aside and their people moved onto infertile and desolate lands with very little available for their basic needs, I felt shame for being white. And these women in no way, shape, or form, ever denigrated anyone as they shared how the Lakota are one of the poorest people in this country, and how many of their different ancestors were killed, and how their people suffer today with alcoholism, diabetes and a host of other problems due to western lifestyle that was introduced. 

The time for divisive thinking is over. We need to heal this rift across the world...for ALL people everywhere who have been oppressed, discriminated against, and treated as less than whole for being different.

Each one of us adds to the colors of the tapestry of our world. Each person/people have something special and needed to add to life here Earth. We need one another, with all our differences. I know of no one who fits the definition of "normal". Do you? There may be patterns, there may be similarities, but no two people on this planet are alike, as it should be! Our diversity is the thread that weaves the human race together. When we try to tear out one strand, we have created a hole, and it doesn't take long before that hole gets bigger.

Oops, sorry...stepping down off soap box...

Anyhoo, I'm realizing that we have this wealth of wisdom in how to live sustainably and in harmony with our planet from indigenous people around the world. Yet we've mistreated them, and the irony is that they are probably the ones with the knowledge of how to save our sorry arses and fix this world so that we could actually have 7 generations be able to survive. And I'm wondering how we can start on a path of healing from this for the benefit of all my relations.

(Okay, finally, the synchronicity...Native Americans, their heritage, and moving forward...)

On Wednesday, June 20th and the first day of summer, I find myself at the Phillips Herbarium in Dover, DE (a fabulous resource for plant info with phenomenal and helpful staff, by the way), working on my research project. The Educator mentions that maybe she could put me in touch with a local Lenni-Lenape woman who might be willing to talk with me about medicinal plants. I'm overwhelmed at this little revelation and am trying to stutter something that resembles a "YES, PLEASE!" All of a sudden, she remembers that she received an email and that there is a gathering in the afternoon at Legislative Hall, meeting on the Green outside for a resolution on behalf of the Lenape people. A resolution is up for vote to make November "Native American Heritage Month" in Delaware, with encouragement for schools to teach about the Native Americans who are still alive and present in our small state. This resolution is apparently part of the process to help the Lenape receive federal and state recognition as a tribe, and the email is asking for as many people as possible to show up to Legislative Hall in support. She prints the email out and hands it to me.

I'm dumbfounded. I can't believe this. The ONLY reason I'm even in Dover is because I had to drop my son off for a band rehearsal at a local high school and decided to visit the Herbarium while I was down there.

I have to go...I just came from the Grandmothers...I was just thinking how do we start to heal this rift with indigenous people, and here is opportunity pounding on my door. I say, "Yes, of course we'll go", speaking for me and my 11 yr old daughter who is with me today, willing participant or no.

I decide to wrap up my research by noon so we can eat and go to Legislative Hall. (Side note: the Director had pulled 4 boxes of books and two boxes of papers on Native American history. To be clear, I never asked for Native American info, I had just told them I was researching medicinal plants in Delaware, so I was figuring I'd get info on current plants that have medicinal properties. I had been told that the ethnobotany info for this area is extremely scarce. Both the Director and Educator had gone down the Native American/Ethnobotany path, unguided by me...)

I tell my daughter what we're doing, and she is looking at me like I might have lost my mind, but thinking it could be interesting and she definitely supports the resolution. We somehow find parking in a city I've never actually been in and manage to get to the Green at Legislative Hall. There is no one gathering outside. We realize there probably won't be, as it's 98 degrees and the sprinklers are on. My daughter is looking longingly at the sprinklers, as any 11 yr old would be on a hot day, and I look at her and say, "We're going in." She stops and is looking at me with those deer-in-headlight eyes, trying to let me know she is way out of her comfort zone. I look back at her and say, "Yeah, I know. I'm out of my comfort zone too, but I can't ignore this coincidence. We'll ask and figure out where we need to be."

We go inside, which is invitingly cool and yet unsettling at the same time with the metal detectors and armed police officers, and I tell the guard at the door what we're looking for, handing him the copy of the email. He reads through it and says that he's seen some people already come in, and to come through the metal detectors, get a visitor badge, and then we can "wander the building until we find them". Oh yeah, definitely out of the comfort zone.

We wander around in a circle until we see 3 people sitting on a bench that look, well, indigenous. My daughter and I look at each other and figure we'll hang here for a few minutes and see what happens. Then I see what is clearly a Lenape/Nanticoke man in full regalia come through the metal detector. I decide we'll just follow him and let him know we're here in support. ('Cause really, what else can I say? I still can't believe how we ended up here - it's preposterous!) We stand in some legislative office, surrounded by some Representatives and Lenape/Nanticoke, feeling terribly uncomfortable and quite physically squished. Several people come up to my daughter, wanting to know who she is and why she's here. One grandmother-type Lenape woman hugs her and thanks her for being here, commenting that it's so nice to have young people show. One Representative is impressed that we came all the way down from Newark to be present. I confess that we just heard about the resolution because we happened to be down here, but then find myself saying, "We would have come down anyway".

We enter the room in Legislative Hall, where gavel-banging and roll call takes place, sounding a lot like an auction, 'cause we can't understand a word of what they're saying. The rest of this may not be in exact chronological order, so please forgive any errors, but here's what happened:
  • The resolution to make November "Native American Heritage Month" in Delaware, with encouragement for Delaware schools to teach about them, is proposed. Almost as soon as it's proposed, the vote is unanimously in favor. 
  • An apology is made to the Lenape for not having done this sooner, and the need to recognize them as an important part of Delaware.
  • Two Lenape/Nanticoke chiefs and an elder are present, and they make it known that they had to hide for a long time in order to survive, but they're still here and want to share their heritage.
  • One of the State Representatives asks for a moment of silence in remembrance of one of the great matriarchs of the Lenape who has recently passed. It is granted and the hall is silent for a moment. 
  • The Lenape/Nanticoke representatives have come prepared for a prayer and dance of thanks. The dancer, Bruce "Little Drummer" Morris, shares with us that his niece who used to dance with him died a few months ago, and this dance will be in her honor.
  • After hearing this, another State Rep. stands and asks for a moment of silence in her honor. It is granted and the hall is silent.
  • The dance with drumming commences, with Native Americans and State Reps circling around the room, hand-in-hand, to the drum beat and prayers.
  • I have never been so proud to be a resident of Delaware.
My daughter and I departed, feeling the time of our standing and witnessing was finished. What an honor it was to not only see the brief legislative process in action, but the beginning of healing relations with our own indigenous people. I'm still overwhelmed by the chain of coincidences that got me there, and encouraged by a future that holds so much more promise. I didn't connect with any of the Lenape people to inquire about medicinal plants because yesterday was not the time. Yesterday was the day to stand with them and in my own way, say "I'm sorry for the suffering of your people. Let's find a better way to move forward. I support you in reclaiming your heritage, and we should all learn more about you and the wisdom you choose to share. Thank you for taking this step."

So here I am back into the "mundane" life, overwhelmed, exhausted, intrigued, loopy, and still trying to process the whole week with the Grandmothers and everything that's followed in the past few days. I hope I remember to do everything in the "mundane" that I'm supposed to be doing, like paying the bills and such. (If I owe you a phone call or something, feel free to remind me, and my deepest apologies!)

After you meet the Grandmothers, you come back a changed person. I've had dreams, waking visions, ideas, and the nudge to get started on whatever is next. Within 2 days of getting back, this blog was up and running. It's got to be interactive, so I hope people will come together in community and comment in respectful ways. I hope that something I say here touches you and makes you think more positively or act more kindly or get up and do something to speak on behalf of another person or group of people who need it. I hope you think about the legacy we're leaving for the future - not only our children's future, but our own in 30 years if we don't change how we treat one another and the planet we live on. We create the future right here, right now. 

Frankly, I don't know exactly where I'm going or how to get there, and it scares the hell out of me. But I can't ignore the facts that I have been wanting/praying/knowing I needed to meet the Grandmothers, asking the universe to help me find my path, and then asking for guidance of what to do next. I think if I just maybe take one step at a time and trust things like coincidences, I'll get to where I need to be. And I figure there's a lot of other people out there wondering what they're supposed to be doing too, so maybe we can all meet up and figure out a way to make this place a little smile, one kind word, one little coincidence at a time. And a lot of laughing at ourselves for being goofy, human, afraid, courageous, passionate, outspoken, shy, and everywhere in-between. We're all in this together.

Blessings to you all on your journeys. Please feel free to leave respectful comments below. I'd love to hear if anything I babbled about here got ya thinking. Or if you're wandering around feeling overwhelmed too or unsure. Maybe we can put our heads together and figure out something good.

Love & Light,