February 7, 2012 ON MARRIAGE...AND THE GOOGLE GOD OF TRANSLATION!
As I think any married couple would agree, marriage is a Life’s Work. It is a constantly growing and changing spiritual art-form. Your beloved serves as a perfect mirror for you And, like any mirror, sometimes the reflection of yourself that you see is a lot more fun to look at than others! And yet, if we gaze with loving intention, and a desire to see the Truth about ourselves and our partner, this “marriage mirror” provides an unparalleled opportunity for spiritual growth and unfoldment.
In the process, though, it’s not always easy. So the ability to maintain a sense of perspective, and a sense of humor, becomes essential! And speaking of a sense of humor, I believe that the Divine Spirit has quite a sense of humor.
A perfect example of this occurred recently as I was working on the ceremony for a young couple, Christina and Lazzaro, who are very dear to me. I was to officiate their wedding in a few days, and Christina had sent me the words – in Spanish – of the beautiful prayer that she and Lazzaro were to speak in the bi-lingual ceremony. Given that my understanding of Spanish is minimal, I did what we all do these days if we need to know something: I googled it.
Well, the Google God of Translation definitely has a sense of humor, because the last line of their beautiful prayer was translated thusly:
“Help us to see and learn about laundry divine, that exists at all…. and keep alive this truth today and forever.”
I laughed. A lot. And I thought, “How perfect – to pray that you may forever recognize and learn about “Divine Laundry.”
Because this is really what marriage boils down to, isn’t it? Sure, there are the luscious moments of romance and energetic attraction, times of great adventure and peak experiences– but mostly, marriage is about – life is about – finding the Divine in EVERYTHING – including dirty laundry!
There’s a Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” The same actions, and yet it’s an entirely different experience, depending on your state of awareness.
It’s through the millions of mundane choices we make – through the thoughts we hold, the words we choose to speak – or not speak – the simple actions wecarry out every day, that we have the opportunity to move ever closer to enlightenment...to become ever purer Beings of Light.
Yes, marriage is a life’s work. It is a commitment that carries both profound joy and great responsibility.
Marriage is the physical, emotional and spiritual union of two beings, two individuals who willingly choose to keep re-discovering who they are in the presence of one another.
A wedding celebration affords an opportunity not only for the bride and groom, but for each of us to reflect on who we are, and what we’re all doing here...here, on this planet.
I believe we are here to learn what it really means to love, as an active daily principle. We are learning to choose love over fear. Compassion over judgment. To choose that which unites rather than that which divides.
In closing, the essence of the blessing I spoke to the bride and groom is the same blessing I wish for you:
May you constantly be aware of these moments of choice. In your marriage, and in all relationships, may you be a willing and loving catalyst for one another’s individual growth and spiritual transformation.
May your life always be blessed with patience, kindness, compassion, respect, and unconditional love, and may your capacity to love continue to expand and deepen with every passing day.
August 10, 2010 OF TIME, TWEETS AND SOULS FLYING FREE
With all the Facebook, Tweets and Twits stuff going on, I sometimes feel like it's all too much.
Just give me a real live human being with whom to converse while
sitting in the shade of the redwood tree in my own front yard. No
computers, no cell phones, nothing that needs rebooting or recharging!
Especially this week, I feel deep appreciation for the simple things in life....and for life itself.
Earlier this week, I spent nearly 72 hours
with a dear woman named Jean, a former client. I had the honor of
playing the role of "spiritual midwife" as she transitioned from her
body. She'd been valiantly dealing with cancer for several years, and at
age 74, it was now time to let go, and move on.
After many long
hours, during which her body and soul prepared themselves for this
transition, I was gifted to be at her side at the moment of release. I
was able to witness the look of indescribable joy and awe that shone
through her barely opened eyelids in the instant before she left her
She'd been unconscious for the better part of three
days, so for her to return to awareness just enough to reveal that
beauty to me - and to her daughter, Sherrie, who was on her other side
- was an unspeakably precious gift.
I don't know precisely what Jean experienced in that moment, but I do know she wanted us to know it was beautiful beyond imagining. A single tear rolled down her parched cheek, and then she was gone.
Sherrie and I sat wide-eyed, feeling an
indescribable awe and Lightness of Being, as we both cried and
laughed and hugged across her mom's now-uninhabited body. Then, I
turned and softly played "Amazing Grace" on my crystal singing bowls,
as Jean's soul flew free.
So, although time marches on at
an ever-increasing rate here on this earthly plane, I've been freshly
reminded that what truly matters knows not the bounds of time, nor the
confines of the body. Who we truly are could never be expressed in a tweet, a twit, a blog, or a book of any kind - Face or otherwise!
the birds flutter amongst the branches above me, singing their songs
with joyful abandon, I find myself joyfully reflecting that each of us has a unique song to sing... and wings with which to fly.
I am blessed with that knowing. I wish for you the same blessing.
July 25, 2009 WHAT MIGHT YOU BE MISSING?
This thought-provoking story made its way into my email inbox for the sixth or seventh time the other day. I re-read it, and it really struck a chord ('scuse the pun!) with me, during this particularly busy time. In fact, I wanted to learn a little more about the background of the story, so I googled it. The time I'd alotted for a "quick blog entry" turned into a fascinating hour and a half of reading, writing and reflecting. (Actually rather apros pos, considering the story's content!)
I'd highly encourage you to check out the original Washington Post article....fascintating stuff. I offer the condensed story here, as a "teaser":
Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007.
He played six classical pieces for about forty-five minutes. During that time, over a thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
At 3 minutes, after sixty-three people had already passed obliviously by, a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on.
At 4 minutes: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in his open case without stopping, as she walked past.
At 6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and continued on his way.
At 10 minutes: A three-year-old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as he stood there looking at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.
For 45 minutes, the musician played. Only 7 people, total, stopped and stayed for at least one minute. 27 gave him money, but most continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. 1,070 other people hurried by, few even noticing his presence.
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this: The violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a Stradivarius - a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell had sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.
The questions raised: in a commonplace environment, in the midst of day-to-day busyness, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent or genius in an unexpected context?
The most fundamental question raised by this experiment might be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ....What else might we be missing?
Indeed. May your (and my!) life never be so busy that we miss the beauty that surrounds and fills us.
April 19, 2009 REMEMBERING WHO YOU REALLY ARE
Does anyone else feel like things are really “heating up”? And while, yes, the days are indeed getting sunnier and warmer here in the Pacific Northwest, I’m of course speaking more in a metaphorical sense. This is really quite a time we’re living through. I’m finding it necessary to spend more time alone, just to be with the immense amount of energy that’s brewing these days. Days like today, digging in the garden, experiencing the beauty of Nature, and the grounding of Mother Earth, are, for me, hugely important to maintain balance and centeredness in the midst of some pretty crazy stuff.
Individually and collectively, it seems that whatever has been unresolved is now presenting itself, one way or another, for healing.
In my personal experience, the entire gamut of the emotional spectrum is getting more intense, as the Divine Presence orchestrates the deep healing work I continue to invite. When “clear me, heal me, use me” becomes a daily prayer/mantra, it gets to be quite a ride sometimes! (Know what I mean? I’ll bet many of you do!)
Yet, as I say in several of my more recent CDs, in order to experience true healing, we must “become large enough to embrace it all.” We must have the courage to go to those darkest, scariest, loneliest places; we must also have the courage to recognize, “own", and act from the tremendous power of Love that is the true essence of who we are.
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. -Marianne Williamson
So why is opening to Love, embracing who we really are, sometimes so scary?
Because it means giving up a whole lot of who we’ve always thought we were. And even if not all aspects of that limited self-definition are who we really want to be, it’s familiar. So letting go can be more than a bit challenging sometimes. It can feel downright life-threatening. So we don’t go there. We retreat to what we know.
By simply recognizing that this is the ego’s way of doing its best to protect us, we can experience a deeper level of compassion, and be gentler with ourselves as we learn to let go and remember who we really are. When you really get that all this old stuff is not “me”, then you can let it go. As we build a more solid knowing of our true essence, we are able, then to more easily let go of those limiting beliefs, the thought and behavior patterns which no longer serve us. We become large enough to embrace it all. We learn to see and celebrate the miraculous in the mundane. And life becomes a whole lot more fun!
Could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy. -Kahlil Gibran
I wish for you the heart-opening compassion and infinite joy that comes with remembering who You really are.
January 20, 2009 INAUGURATION DAY...BE THE CHANGE!
On this auspicious Inauguration Day, this day of renewed hope and Vision in our country and in our world, I feel moved to share with you a link to a simple movement to help "bring it home"... a way to bring these inspired ideals into action in our own lives, right now...to do our part to help keep this inspired Energy moving! I encourage you to take just a moment to check it out.
To hold the HIgher Vision steadfastly; to take responsibility (even when it's easier not to) to do whatever it takes to raise my individual consciousness level, so that I might best help manifest this collective Vision of peace, harmony and abundance for all... in short, to BE the change I seek.
I also pledged their suggested commitment of: "At least 50 hours annually as a volunteer with local service organizations, non-profits, hospitals, schools, faith-based institutions or other places of need or through an enterprise or initiative I create."
Won't you take a moment, breathe in the pervasive sense of Possibility, and commit to what role you are willing to play? As important as it is to "Relax into Healing", we also must take action for the healing so sorely needed on the planet at this time. We are, indeed, all in this together.
Thank-you, and blessings to all.
December 31, 2008 YIELDING TO YES
This holiday season, I have been given a most profound gift. In these past few weeks, I've had the unspeakable privilege of acting as a spiritual midwife for a beloved friend, Lisa, as she made her transition from this plane. Words cannot begin to describe the beauty, the Grace, the joy and the sorrow of these past weeks. So I turn to Lisa's own words to most elegantly convey the essence of her beautiful Being.
Lisa was, among other things, an accomplished poet. The following poem is read by Lisa herself on a compilation CD she'd recorded a few years ago. I played it as I was preparing dinner tonight.This particular poem stopped me in my tracks. I had to listen again. And again. Then I offered a prayer of thanks, and came into my office to share these incredible words with you. May they touch your soul as deeply as they did mine.
(NOTE: Having only a verbal version, the line breaks, punctuation, etc., are mine. I will amend, if I'm able to, at a later date...)
When I Lie Down and When I Rise
Hold me tight, like a chrysalis.
Something with wings is preparing to wake inside.
When I close my eyes, I can feel everything changing,
Yielding to yes,
Uncovering an old intimacy with Light.
More than rose leaves ready to be green
And buds holding what we forgot in the cold,
It's a ripening of words my ancestors gave me.
And any minute now, I'm going to rise,
Remembering I'm part of a whole -
One cell among billions that people God's heart.
By Lisa Rosen,
In loving memory of a very bright Light, who has yielded, with such Grace, to "yes".
I love you, Lisa...and "thank you so much."
And the deepest blessings to you, dear reader, as you make your sacred transition into this new year.
October 27, 2008 A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
I am in awe of Divine Synchronicity.
This morning, I had the joy of singing a couple of duets – both beautiful, inspiring songs – at our local Unity Church. My daughter, Mieka, and Peggy, a dear friend of mine, were both at the service, and afterward, the three of us left the church sort of floating….high on the feeling of Love generated by the heart-opening music, the minister’s powerful message, and the magic that happens “where two or more are gathered.”
We went out to lunch at a nearby Thai restaurant, where we ran into a couple of old friends we’d not seen in years, so there were hugs all around, much lively conversation, and general merriment going on. Besides our two parties, the only other customer in the restaurant was a single man, probably sixty or so, who happened to be seated so he was looking directly at our two back-to-back booths. He couldn’t help but watch all the shenanigans, which seemed to be genuinely amusing him.
Our friends were leaving soon for Japan for her son’s wedding, so she wanted to take photos of us to show to him, since we’d not seen him, either, for a number of years. At one point in the photo shoot, as we were laughing and shuffling around into different configurations, I looked over at the solo gentleman, and said, “You didn’t know you were gonna get live entertainment this morning, did you?”
He smiled and said he was thoroughly enjoying it. to which I replied, “You know, you’re welcome to join us if you like, if you’re here alone.” I don’t always invite strangers to join us, but for some reason, today I did.
He thanked me, but said, “I’m waiting patiently….actually, I’m waiting impatiently for my son.” I smiled and nodded, and turned my attention back to our group.
Soon thereafter, our friends took their leave, and Mieka, Peggy and I got our meals, and became engrossed in our own conversation as we ate. We were so engrossed that we didn’t even notice the neighboring gentleman leaving. I happened to glance out the window alongside our booth, and saw him getting into his car – a little sports car convertible, which was parked right in front of our booth, facing our direction.
“Oh,” I said, “that’s too bad…..I didn’t even see him leave. I guess his son never showed up.” Mieka and Peggy looked out, and Mieka said, “Ohh…..he looks so sad!”
He really did. He looked heart-wrenchingly sad. I replied, “Yeah….makes ya wanna just go give him a hug or something, doesn’t it?”
“Let’s do it! C’mon, hurry, he’s pulling out…!” Mieka cried as she pushed me out of the booth Peggy, normally a bit more reserved, jumped up saying, “I’ll do it!”, and all three of us dashed to the front door.
Mieka and Peggy intercepted him as he backed out from his spot. As I watched from the doorway, I have to admit I struggled for just a moment with that Proper Adult voice inside that said, “You can’t just run out into the parking lot after a strange man in a little sports car to give him a hug! Three women accosting him?? He’ll think you’re nuts…he’ll think you’re coming on to him or something!”
But I chose to ignore these admonitions, and made my way over to join Mieka and Peggy at the passenger’s side of his car.
Meanwhile, Mieka, I found out later, had said something to the effect of, “Excuse me! Umm……we just wanted to say we’re sorry your son didn’t show up. I’ve stood up people I love before, including my step-dad. (Gesturing to Peggy:) I stood her up twice! (Peggy confirmed this.) So on behalf of your son, I just wanted to apologize.”
He’d responded that, “Yeah, my son messes around with cell phones all the time, but he can’t set an alarm clock.”
I’d reached the car at this point, and he looked at the three of us for a moment, then continued, “Actually, I think the reason he didn’t show up is because I’m going in for surgery for lung cancer tomorrow, and he just can’t handle it.”
There was a momentary pause, as three hearts opened even wider. Then we made our way around to the driver’s side of the car, and took turns giving him those hugs. He was a bit surprised, but obviously touched .(No pun intended!)
I told him I had a gift I wanted to give him, and ran over to my car and came back and gave him a Surgery and a Cancer: Embracing the Healing Journey CD & Booklet. Mieka and I told him we were both cancer survivors – she even showed him the incision scars just under her collarbones. We told him we would be thinking of him, and holding him in our prayers tomorrow, and I asked if at some point he’d call and let me know how he was doing.
When I’d told him this is what I do professionally and handed him the CDs, the expression of incredulousness on his face was surpassed only by the loving, grateful look in his eyes. We all agreed that Divine Synchronicity is pretty darn amazing, and then, with warm smiles and thank-yous, he drove off, and we went back in and finished our now cold-but-who-cares Thai food. We found it hard to say much more than, “Hmmm! and Wow!” for the rest of the meal.
Was it a bit unorthodox to go chasing after a strange man to give him a hug in the parking lot, when he’s already pulling out, for goodness sake!?? You betcha.
But as I was reminded once again today, the heart always knows better than the head. When Spirit moves you to do something, the Proper (or Fearful or Shy or….) Adult may just have to be left waving her arms and sputtering “But, but….” I know mine was ultimately very glad I overrode her “sensible” advise.
So I encourage you to reach out, to follow that crazy inner prompting of the heart. Commit that random act of kindness. Err on the side of Love. What do you really have to lose? And there is ever so much to gain.
September 30, 2008 AND THE PHOENIX SHALL RISE FROM THE ASHES...
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” FDR’s infamous words, spoken during the Great Depression, are ringing loud and clear today.
It’s really pretty amazing to be living in these times of such accelerated change. Our political and economic arenas are exploding with unprecedented happenings, with what may appear to be chaos and doom. But viewed through another lens, this “chaos” is incredibly exciting and, potentially, earthshakingly transformative.
I believe we are living in a time in which we are creating a shift of such magnitude that it’s nearly incomprehensible. Sometimes, tuning into the outer drama that’s unfolding, my human self feels more than a bit shaken. (”Omigod, half my retirement account just went up in smoke.”). And yet, something deeper…much deeper….knows it’s all okay. In fact, it feels electrifyingly necessary and good.
As Einstein said, “A problem cannot be solved from the same consciousness level in which it was created.” What a great example of this principle we’re seeing all around us: the contentious war in Iraq, the grand-scale economic melt-down, the flailing health-care system…to name but a few…ALL of these outer circumstances were created from a mass consciousness level that no longer exists!! And so the outer form MUST break down to make way for the new. The phoenix will rise from its ashes.
What a historic moment we witnessed yesterday in Congress: both parties uniting to vote down the 700 billion dollar bail-out bill (a desperate attempt to keep the rapidly crumbling economic structures in place. Our representatives in Congress just said “NO!”. *(see P.S., below)
They…..we!!........drew a line in the sand, and said, “Thus far and no farther! This madness may not continue. We will no longer be manipulated by fear, in a system ruled by greed.” Enough of us woke up and spoke up, and demanded, on a deep soul level, that the old give way to the new. Just as we did at our nation’s inception, we let the ruling political powers know that THIS IS IT. WE ARE BIRTHING A NEW NATION.
The political clime must and always does reflect our collective consciousness. So hooray for us! Enough of us are waking up, and speaking up, that the dawn of rebirth is beginning to glimmer, even in the midst of seeming destruction and chaos.
My soul is on fire. It feels as if I’ve been waiting for this chapter in human history for a very long time. Let us relinquish the old as gracefully as possible, while holding strong the Vision of what we know, deep inside, is really possible. This is it. We are, indeed, the change we seek.
P.S. - Obviously, I wrote the above entry the day after the vote on the original bill. It, of course, was subsequently modified and passed into law. Yet I leave the above as is. This is the most politically oriented "rant" I've ever written, and felt important to me to speak out about. I believe it is historic that the initial reaction was to defeat this bill. The long term effects of the ultimate passage of the "bail out" bill remain to be seen. Meanwhile, I stand my ground, and applaud those lawmakers who had the courage and farsightedness to stand theirs. Having now said this, let me also say with just as deep a conviction, that I honor all points of view, including those in seeming opposition to mine. God bless America, and all nations. Namaste.
June 6, 2008 NAUTILUS BOOK AWARDS WINNER!!
Spring, literally and figuratively, represents a time of fertility, growth, blossoming.... and boy, is that apros pos for me these days! Semi-dormant seeds of creativity from my subconscious mind have begun wriggling their way up into the light of consciousness. Ideas and projects that have been on the middle burner for months and years now seem to be demanding to be placed front and center. I've been curtailing outer activity levels, to afford time for writing, reflecting, researching, as well as for clearing the decks (again, literally and figuratively) for the next chapter. It's an exciting time.
And speaking of exciting.....I was recently informed that my Relax Into Healing Series collection, comprised of my six most recent titles (Healing Affirmations & Harp; Pain: Softening the Sensations; Surgery: Mindful Mending; Cancer: Embracing the Healing Journey; Chemotherapy: A Healing Solution; and Radiation: Removing the Dross), was named a Silver Award Winner in the prestigious Nautilus Book Awards. Nautilus' slogan is "Changing the world, one book at a time." The category my titles placed in is "World-changing Audio Books." Wow.
This is a big deal on many levels. To begin with, it is very gratifying to be in the esteemed company of the other award winners, who include the likes of Deepak Chopra, Krishna Das, Lynn McTaggart, Julia Cameron, Barbara Kingsolver, Norman Shealy, Dawson Church, Gregg Braden, Gary Zukav, Thich Nhat Hanh...to name but a few.
(Pardon me for name dropping, but to be in this kind of company is pretty humbling, and pretty darn cool...!)
Also, from a marketing standpoint, it is very helpful to be able to use the coveted "award-winning" adjective to describe my work. This kind of commendation will help tremendously to get this work out there to even more people who can benefit from it. Which is, after all, the point of all this.
And yet even way more "cool" and gratifying than the noteriety and marketability aspects, is the fact that this is a testament to the power of belief, the power of intention, and an unrelenting faith in the Higher Power.
I remember sitting at the Nautilus Book Awards ceremony back in the early 90's, when I had one little cassette tape out on the market, and I was stumbling my way around the (at that time known as the) ABA trade show, trying to educate myself on how this whole crazy publishing/marketing world works. (I'm still workin' on that..!) I watched, with a lump in my throat and more than one tear in my eye, as author after author went up and received their award for having created life-changing, consciousnes-changing books.
Something inside me stirred...deeply. And I vowed, "Someday....".
I held that vision, through many ups and downs and ins and outs. Now, with the unrelenting assistance of the Higher Power, (and the addition of a new category this year for audio books!), I am at that juncture in my Path. It's time. And so I head to LA with an overflowing gratitude in my heart for this honor... and this responsibility.
And I pray that the Divine Muse keeps clearing and using me, so that I may be as effecctive a Vehicle as possible, as we all work together to change the world.....one thought, one word, one action....one choice at a time.
I leave you with a quote from the Talmud:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If only for myself, what good am I? If not now, when?
May 10, 2008 "I TAKE THE STEP THAT'S BEFORE ME TO TAKE."
I recently achieved something I thought I’d never do – I completed not one, but two half-marathons within four weeks! (Do two halves make a whole? Ummm…nope, in this case I don’t think so.) But running 13.1 miles at a time – which seemed like plenty, mind you! – is something I’m pretty proud of. And speaking of proud…
The first race, I ran with my amazing daughter, Annamieka. Mieka, who was diagnosed in March 2005 with Hodgkins Lymphoma, was responsible for getting me into all this in the first place, when she was asked to be the “honored teammate” for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society Team-in-Training. They were training for the Race for the Roses Half Marathon, to be held in Portland, OR on April 6th, 2008. (Basically, the HT becomes the teammembers' inspiration to keep going - "if she can make it through the rigors of cancer, I can run another mile...") But Mieka being Mieka, her response was, "Well, sure, I'd be happy to be your honored teammate, but why don't I just run it with you?"
She then called me and said, "...So, momma, you wanna run a half-marathon with me?" I heard myself say, "Well, of course!" It was one of those "what did I just say?" moments. But I told her, as long as my 53-year-old body seemed to be holding up okay, I'd be happy to train with her. So, two months before the race, we began logging the miles. I've been a 2-3 mile runner pretty consistently for years, with a few 10k races thrown in, but never have I attempted running non-stop for over two hours! But amazingly enough, one step led to another, muscles strengthened, toned...and ached...in places that were brand new to my awareness! I literally, we ran through rain, hail, sleet and snow...and occassional sunshine. Mieka and I trained in different cities, so we'd support each other by cell phone. We'd call during training runs to say, "I'm at mile 9 and I'm hitting a wall here. So this next mile's for you!" And the other would cheer, affirm and encourage in any way possible. My own mental mantra became, "I take the step that's before me to take." I would make my mind focus on something other than the thousands of steps left to take in that day's run. "Light...loose...relaxed. Fit...trim...toned." Beautiful countryside. New neighborhoods to explore. And by race day, I was actually feeling pretty darn good.
The night before the race, there was a "rah-rah" dinner that really served its purpose, and by the time we'd listened to some amazing cancer survivor/thriver stories, and I'd led the team in a guided visualization of the next day's race (because, of course all top athletes visualize their success!), we were both so excited that the energy just had to come out somehow.
Now, mind you, when my kids were little, I highly discouraged them from jumping on the beds at home, or in hotels, but hey....when your kid's twenty-three, and strong and healthy enough now to be jumping up and down on a bed out of sheer joy and excitement, what's a mother to do? Jump with her, of course!!
We jumped and whooped and laughed so hard we cried, and then collapsed on the floor to catch our breath and regain our maturity. (Well, sorta...)
The next morning was perfectly overcast and cool, and let me tell you, meeting with a lobbyful of hyper-charged half-marathoners at 6am is quite an eye-opening experience. (Literally, for us non-morning persons!) We made our way en masse to the starting line, and before we knew it, were being swept along in a river of moving bodies, barely noticing the first several miles we covered. At about mile nine, though Mieka's body rebelled a bit, with a severe cramp in her left hip flexor area, that sent her to the ground in sudden pain. I massaged it for a few minutes, we made it through the tears of fear and frustration, and in true heroic fashion, she began limping her way toward the finish line - still four miles away. It was a classic scene, arm draped over my shoulder, my five foot frame trying to hold up her five-foot-six one, limping along, tears turning into laughter as we sang silly songs and received all sort of "Way to go - you can do it" calls of encouragement from other participants.
Her cramp gradually abated, and we did indeed eventually cross the finish line in grand style...hand in hand, skipping our way across, with huge smiles of glee on our faces. Did we set any records? Not by the clock, that's for sure, but the personal bests we attained that day outweighed any other method of measuring success.
We both felt totally triumphant. I was so proud of Mieka, who had never really run before at all, and now had completed 13+ miles, a third of them injured, and all of them with slightly comprimise lung capacity from her cancer. That, to me, is the definition of a winner.
We created many precious lifetime memories during this journey together, and shared some crazy mother/daughter moments. Although she was too busy to keep training for this one with me, I decided to go ahead and keep training for the Eugene (half) Marathon that was held on May 4th. I managed to cross the finish line in a time that felt like quite an accomplishment to me personally, but the most important aspect, again, was not the clock, but the personal committment and the incredible support I received along the way.
(Unfortunately, Ken, my husband, had to be out of town on race day, but I truly felt his spirit there boosting me on. And both Mieka and my son, Aaron, along with my dear friend Peggy, were there to cheer me on, hold up signs, and even run with me a ways at several points. Somehow one of the three of them seemed to always pop up right at those times when my legs felt like lead, and I began to think, "WHY am I doing this???!!" One time in particular, somewhere around the eleven mile point, I was really running out of steam, and I rounded the bend to see a big blue and white sign hanging from a pedestrian bridge over the running trail just ahead. As I got closer, I saw Aaron and Mieka were the ones holding it. Suddenly, I had a whole new burst of energy.(The photo, taken just after the race, is worth a thousand words.) I am deeply blessed!
Another of the other lasting gifts from this whole experience is the mental, sometimes spoken mantra I mentioned above. Along with the inspiration and encouragement from my loved ones, this mantra really was one of the main things that kept me going on the overtired, overwhelmed days, in those moments when felt like I wanted to just quit! Sometimes I felt like I must be nuts to think I could really do this! But then I'd remember, "I take the step that's before me to take."
And, of course, this mantra is such a wonderful metaphor for life in general: I take the step that's before me to take.
This simple affirmation has carried over into my personal and professional life, and has truly made a difference in my attitude in so many ways. My never-ending to-do list doesn't seem quite as daunting when I take a deep breath and remind myself: "I take the step that's before me to take." As I look ahead to the many miles, literal or figurative, stretched out before me, I pull myself back from the brink of overwhelm by reminding myself, "I do what's before me to do, in a relaxed and easeful manner. One step at a time." And in being present with what is, I am able to handle each step along the way, with considerably more grace and gratitude. (To a greater or lesser degree, of course, from moment to moment, but hey - I'm learning!)
May you, too, always continue to learn. May you be fully present. And may grace and gratitude prevail, every step of your way.
February 29, 2008 THE POWER OF PARADOX
In one of my favorite musicals, “Fiddler on the Roof”, Tevye, a poor Russian milkman, is listening to an argument between his old villager friend and Perchik, a young revolutionary student. They’re discussing the merits of keeping abreast of political and social changes happening in the world outside their little village. The villager presents his reasoning, and Tevye comments, “You’re right!” Then Perchik presents his case, and Tevye again concludes, “You’re right!” Another friend who’s been listening replies, “He's right and he's right? They can't both be right.” At this point Tevye scratches his head, and in his best Yiddish accent says, “You know, you are also right.”
Therein lies the nature of paradox. This little scene is a beautiful example of how sometimes we must adopt a higher perspective in order to see the big picture, to allow seeming opposites to be true at the same time.
Tevye is being asked, throughout the course of this well-known story, to embrace a whole series of changes…….to give up many of his long-held beliefs, his “Tradition!”, in the face of the rapidly changing times. Out of deep love for his children, Tevye ultimately chooses to surrender many of his entrenched ideas and dogmas. He learns to open to new ways of looking at things. As Hodel, his middle daughter says, “The world is changing, Papa!” and we watch with great compassion as Tevye learns to change with it.
The world is always changing, and it is always our choice to view those changes as threats, or as opportunities. The former creates fear, pain and suffering; the latter brings joy, growth and fulfillment.
It is always our choice. By being open to change in our inner and outer worlds, being willing to look at ourselves and our situation from a Higher Perspective, we make room for paradox. Rather than being limited by our own programmed belief systems, we become large enough to contain it all. We can be in pain AND know it’s all okay. We can be afraid AND have absolute trust. We can disagree with AND totally accept another’s point of view.
It is said, “In God, all things are possible”.
Einstein reminds us, “A problem cannot be solved from the same consciousness level in which it was created.”
A simple, but profound Truth, applicable to personal and global issues. We must raise our level of awareness, attune ourselves to a Higher Perspective, where indeed all things are possible. Including paradox.
So, whatever your personal situation, may you embrace with Grace the change that confronts you. May you find peace in the power of paradox. And may the winds of change be always at your back.
December 19, 2007 LIKE RIPPLES IN A POND...
I had a rather frustrating day yesterday, full of computer snafus that culminated in wiping out many hours of work I’d spent all afternoon doing. It took a number of deep breaths, and reminders to myself about the relative importance of life’s little challenges, in order to retain my sense of inner harmony.
So by the time I got to the store to drop off the digital photo files I’d been working on, I was feeling a little brain-numbed. I was happy to see the name tag on the young man behind the counter – Eric was the one I’d spoken to earlier on the phone, and his calm, patient manner had already made a positive difference in my day.
Now, here I was, a week before Christmas in the photo department at Rite-Aid, amidst all sorts of harried customers who were demanding assistance with their last minute photo projects.
Eric managed to remain calm and focused as he attended to my needs, despite being interrupted about every ten seconds by another customer with “just a quick question”. And, true to the stereotype of an under-thirty male, he was able to solve my current technical dilemma with a few dozen lightning-speed clicks on my laptop keyboard.
I needed a CD to copy files for transfer. He could’ve just pointed me to the proper aisle. Instead, he walked me to aisle 7B, where he helped me choose the best and least expensive option. Back at the counter, he continued to walk me through the process of copying the files (including the little surprise techno-glitches that occurred in that process!), then offered to set my laptop behind the counter for the fifteen minutes or so it would take to finish copying, so I wouldn’t have to “babysit” it.
I played in the slippers aisle ‘til they were done, came back, filled out the envelopes (….yep, with his assistance….) and then when I told him I really needed it tonight, he volunteered to bump it ahead of other less critical orders. He also offered to call me on my cell as soon as they were done, saying he would do his best to finish it before his shift ended.
He did. And the crowning glory was that, when I returned to pay for them, Eric found a coupon for me that ended up saving me over $50 on my order!
Now the “ripples on a pond” part:
Obviously, Eric's positive energy and superior service made a big ripple in my pond. His good will affected me so deeply, I felt inspired to go next door to the market, and buy a thank-you card, on which I wrote a few sentences expressing my heartfelt gratitude. While in the checkout line, I ran into a friend I’d not seen in many months. I told him the Eric story, and he walked with me back to the drug store to deliver the card.
I gave it to his supervisor, telling her what great service Eric had provided, and asking her to please pass on the card to him tomorrow. She responded like a proud parent. Her night was brightened.
Then, as we left the store to head for our respective vehicles, my friend, Jason, said, “That’s what I love about you. I think of doing things like that, but you actually do them!” To this, I replied, “Thank-you, Jason, for that affirmation….sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t take the time either. But to me, this is what this whole season is about……gratitude, service, love…..”
He hugged me, and said, with a catch in his throat, “Yeah… Sometimes with all the other stuff in my life, I forget. I just… forget! I’m so glad I ran into you tonight. You just changed my whole night.”
And his saying that further changed mine. And the ripples continue to spread….
May the peace, love, joy and gratitude you create in your own heart create endless ripples of peace, love, joy and gratitude in the world during this most holy of seasons……….and always.
September 30, 2007 TWIDDLING THUMBS, GRATEFUL HEART
The only thing constant is change. My commitment to keep up with my “blog” entries was superseded by my commitment to care for myself, which in this case meant stepping back for awhile from many of my professional “duties”, resting, re-balancing and recovering from a couple of pretty intense, non-stop years. So (almost) without apology, I now return to this writing. Because I want to, not because I should!
While writing my Fall Newsletter, I spoke of my choice to honor my body/mind/Spirit’s need to just “STOP!” for awhile, and hence, I reported, I had no upcoming public appearances planned in the near future. I hastened to add, though, that I was certainly not just sitting here “twiddling my thumbs”.
Writing that phrase led me to pause and actually twiddle my thumbs, which, surprisingly, I found to be quite amusing, and enlightening! In fact, I’d highly recommend you take a twiddling break right now. Done with mindfulness, a nice slow, rhythmic twiddle can be extremely meditative, even sensual...a very calming experience.
Perhaps I understand now why my father, who was a brilliant research engineer, an inventor, would spend hours twiddling his thumbs…much to my embarrassment as a teenager! He would be off in his own little world, with a vacant stare or even closed eyes, his revery accompanied by the gentle, repetitive rhythm of his thumbs slowly going round and round, while perched on the shelf of his modest little paunch.
It is with fondness (and forgiveness of those embarrassing teen moments), that I now recall the form of meditation employed by my highly intellectual father, whose world view did not include a “spiritual practice” per se. But it did include a quiet awareness of the natural world and all its inhabitants, and a level of patience I’ve come to appreciate more and more as I’ve matured. What once raised my own impatience, now elicits my deep respect. (Funny how that works!)
So perhaps this is why the simple act of twiddling my thumbs triggered something very deep in me: a present moment awareness that awakened that wonderful sense of “Oh, that’s right. This is what matters…”, as a gentle wave of gratitude quietly filled my mind and heart.
The “to-do’s” will get done. Never all of them. And that’s okay. I AM here. Now.
And in some form, so are you…thanks, Dad.
April 30, 2007 THE VALUE OF SIMPLY BEING
How can it possibly be the last day of April already?? I've committed to myself to make a monthly entry in these "blog" pages, and.....well....obviously, I'm one of those people who work well with deadlines.
I will tell you honestly I had to wrestle with a bit of resistance to get my overtired body up from lying on the couch, where I'd been watching the birds circle and land on top of the giant redwood tree in the front yard, and come back into my office and open my laptop. (OK, I had to wrestle wtih a LOT of resistance to get up and make this entry......to keep my commitment to myself.)
But because I believe there is great value in keeping one's commitments, I am now happily tapping away on the keyboard.
And because there is also great value in lying on the couch watching the birds circle at sunset,(which I admit I rarely take time to do) I will now return to that very activity, and leave you with these wise words:
"Sometimes, on a summer morning, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.
"I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been."
-----Henry David Thoreau in Walden Pond
Thank-you, Henry, for the reminder that sometimes BEing can be far more valuable that DOing.
March 26, 2007 A CELEBRATION OF LIFE, COMMUNITY AND HEALING!
On Sunday, March 18th, we gathered in "A Celebration of Life, Community and Healing...and two works inspired by that healing!"
We had much to celebrate - first and foremost, Annamieka, my 21-year-old daughter's, health and vibrancy! She was diagnosed in March of 2005 with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Mieka is an amazing young woman, who has been my teacher in so many ways, including during the challenging months of her cancer healing journey.
Having also been through my own healing journey in 1998, as well as having been closely involved with many others', (including my father, and my son Aaron's first love, who succumbed to cancer in March of 2000 at the tender age of 21), I can speak with what sometimes seems like too much knowledge of the trials and tribulations of such journeys........as well as their inherent blessings.
Over the years as a healer, I have also worked with many clients facing cancer or other chronic or life-threatening diseases, and, although emotionally grueling at times, I can honestly say these personal and professional experiences have provided some of the richest, most rewarding and most deeply joyful moments of my life.
(I've been encouraged to write more about all these experiences, which I intend to do someday, but for now..........back to the celebration!)
We sang, we danced, we laughed, we cried......we came together in healing meditation and prayers for peace.We celebrated life and healing, growth and learning........and we also celebrated community.
Given that Mieka had no health insurance, her healing became even more of a community effort. The saying "It takes a village to raise a child", was amended to "It takes a community to heal a young adult". The monetary gifts we received during that period were incredible, second only to the gifts of love that poured freely from the hearts of friends, family members and complete strangers. Although no words could ever capture the gratitude we felt and will always feel., it was important to express what we could verbalize.
Sunday was a ritual of passage, a pause to reflect on gifts given and received, and lessons learned. We completed a chapter. As a community.
I'd like to leave you with a quote by Starhawk, on the true meaning of community:
"We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free."
PS -Next month (which is right around the corner!), in these Notes, I'll tell you more about the new works inspired by Mieka's healing journey that were also celebrated. (Especially Mieka's incredible work!) Stay tuned