Category Archives: Intention

THE MONTH OF DEEP DARKNESS

December 10, 2017

WISHING YOU A KIND AND QUIET DECEMBER…

…She closed her letter with this wish for us. The words jumped off the screen and lodged themselves in my heart which for days had been stressed, angry, afraid, and lost. Really lost.

I have only written two or three blogs this year. A handful of journal entries. Maybe a writing exercise here and there. What writing I did was mostly focused on writing  curriculum, powerpoints and handouts for the classes and workshops I led, working with educators examining Restorative Justice in Education.

The nature of my work calls me to invite, encourage and sometimes challenge educators to engage in self-reflection and to embrace some deep changes of heart and mind. I cannot do this if I am not regularly looking at the issues in my own life that obstruct or waylay my ability to remain in a heart and mind-state of kindness,  compassion and peace. I have to live very present, releasing resistance and fear, and embrace the Courage to live honestly, and to engage in the change that our world so desperately needs.

As the months of 2017 rolled along, everything seemed to get harder. By August, I was dissolving into tears at the slightest provocation. It became more and more difficult to even read the headlines in the news, none the less the articles. Never-the-less I was scheduled to lead three significant workshops in August. One of them was for 40+ school administrators looking at the attitudes and practices of Restorative Justice in Education — why they make sense and have the ability to transform school climate.

But in September I had no contracts. No longer distracted, no longer having to put one foot in front of the other no matter what I felt like, I rapidly unraveled.

I was lost. Angry. So very, very angry. Some days I didn’t even know what I was angry about. I wanted to climb out of my own skin. I found myself envying my dear mother who just turned 90 and probably won’t have to endure this world too much longer. The darkness was so heavy, I could physically feel it squeezing my chest and churning in my stomach.

I said to my husband, “Imagine if someone was incessantly running their nails down a chalkboard and no matter what, the noise won’t stop…that is how I feel inside my skin.”

Some days were better than others.

One day I was driving my mother to her eye doctor appointment. All day I had felt like a hurricane was battering my insides. It was violent, unrelenting, loud and screaming. But on the outside, as always, I was trying to smile and be cordial and do all the right things. It was exhausting.

On my way to pick her up I’d thrown an SOS out to the Universe…and now, as we drove down the road, a Bald Eagle flew over, briefly following my car… then moving on. In the Indian world of Animal Medicine, this is significant. It indicates that our prayers are being carried to the Creator.

And nearly every day since, some help has come including the quiet kindnesses of my husband and a homeopathic remedy called Rescue Remedy for fear and anxiety! (btw, it works!)

But most of all, this lovely closing wish in a brief note:  Wishing you a kind and quiet December.  In the moment that I read it, peace flowed over me, head to toes, and then began to fill me up on the inside.

It is the darkest month of the year. And given the state of the world, and the headlines in the news each day, it feels like the darkness is so deep that whatever light exists is obscured by deep fog. Even so, everywhere I go there are bells jangling and lights and sales and crowds… And I repeat to myself my new mantra:  a KIND and QUIET (i.e. PEACE-FILLED) December).

Slowly, I feel this heaviness lifting. I offer gratitude for the Light and goodness that is shining in the Darkness. I stood by the stream that tumbles down the bluff behind my neighborhood the other day, marveling at how during this monochrome time of year the water gets to do art. The ice forming along the edges and over the rocks; amazing, beautiful art that will be different tomorrow and the day after.  I released my heavy heart and all my worry and fear and rage into the stream and let it be carried away. And the water reminded me that “resistance is indeed, futile”. That the key is allowing the flow of my life, honoring my life.

I didn’t blog this year in part because I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to be able to write what would bring joy, and courage, and strength to my readers. I wanted to write something funny.

I had so little of any of that to offer.

But now, in the darkest month of the year, during the deepest darkness we have known in this country in a very long time, I offer you this little sip of hope; this little sprinkle of joy; this small peace: please create a kind and quiet December. Do what you need to do to make it so. Maybe if we all would be kinder to ourselves, we could be kinder to our partners and to our neighbors and to the tired clerk at the store. Maybe if we took the time we need to just stand quietly under the trees, or next to the frozen stream, or looking out over the city from the hill — the screaming inside the cells of our skin would stop.

No matter what those who currently hold power do to this world, there are people to love. No one can prevent us from practicing kindness, or choosing gratitude and joy. No one except for ourselves. Myself.

Wishing you a kind and quiet December. Wishing you a year filled with kindness. And may Peace fill up the space inside your bones.

 

 

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THE PRICE FOR THE FUTURE

December 6, 2016

THE FUTURE DOESN’T COME FREE–THERE IS A PRICE

The storm that snowed-in North Dakota has now blown across Minnesota, spilling into Wisconsin. All night the wind battered at the trees and leafless shrubberies; its howls given eerie voice across chimney tops and rain gutters. I got up this morning expecting to see deep snow piled up in drifts. But the storm split at the point of Lake Superior, just miles from my home. The snow went north and south–we caught only the ragged edges.

As I move through my morning, I am thinking about a quote I wrote down the other day  from the book, The Song Poet. Author, Kao Kalia Yang wrote: “…the price for the future is the present.”

When the week began I continued to carry a heaviness that had begun slowly over the past few weeks, a heaviness that was draining my store of energy. Each morning I stretched my will long…longer, on mental tip-toes, trying to snag the edges of happiness and joy so that I might wrap my arms about them and press them into my body. But I could only brush the edges as they sat shiny on the shelf high above my head. I was weary of the effort.

But Kalia’s words keep repeating themselves in my mind–“the price for the future is the present.”

I cannot retreat. I cannot hide. If I am creating in this present what will be in the future, I cannot stop planting seeds of hope, seeds of wisdom, seeds of truth, seeds of beauty. I must water these seeds–or there will be no harvest. No hope, no beauty, no wisdom born of truth honestly faced to guide us tomorrow. I cannot shut my eyes, but must keep them wide open, searching for even the tiniest gifts of loveliness and laughter that bestow  upon us a little sip of joy. I cannot close my heart, but must keep it wide open so that the flow of love can fill depleted tanks of any who may have need among those with whom I live and move and share my being.

I stretch my will again–no halfhearted effort this time–I snag the edge of Gratitude and hold it close…for the small comforts and privileges I mostly take for granted…for the big things that I oughtn’t ever take for granted. I take myself out for a walk in the grey light of a new winter. I stand by the waterfall where the creek tumbles down the bluffs a few blocks away from where I live. I throw my arms wide and release my little prayers of gratitude, a kaleidoscope of butterflies spiraling up into the heavens.

I smile at the water. I smile at the sky. I smile at the trees. I lean lightly against a cedar. I watch a little squirrel looking for where he buried his morning snack. I listen to the birds gossip. I watch what I think is a Raven playing in the wind. I think of my grandsons. I feel my belly waking up wondering what’s for lunch and remember I have leftover soup in the refrigerator.

Holding grief and rage in equal balance with love and joy is a high wire act worthy of Cirque du Soleil.

 

 

 

 

SAYING “YES”! TO LIFE

April 20, 2015

ON SAYING “YES”!

My fifteen month old grandson despises the word “No”. Even when the word is not directed at him he feels in his baby soul the obstruction, the obstacle, the closing off of the flow of his baby curiosity and busyness and quite reasonably, he rebels with every cell of his little Self. When we say, “yes” we are opening ourselves up to experience more of something. Maybe that is more work, more love, more honesty, or an adventure. “Yes” is a positive word that opens up possibilities. Saying “yes” often elicits gratitude from the one standing in front of us hoping we will open up.

Having long struggled with clinical depression, as I began to learn about the power of our thoughts, attitudes and words, I developed the habit of throwing my arms wide and (when possible) shouting, “I say “YES”! to Life!” If I couldn’t shout outloud, I’d shout in my mind and whisper with my voice. Usually, no matter how I felt about Life in that moment, one good shout would lead to another. I’d begin to at least think, and often verbalize what indeed I was saying “YES!” to in my life; what I wanted to invite into my experience. Yes to joy filling up my heart. Yes to love and kindness and forgiveness. Yes to healing. Yes to the work of the day. Yes to Grace. Yes to the lesson that perhaps I was embroiled in. Yes to being present in both the bitter and the sweet in my life.

This often led to thinking about the blessings and gifts in my life. Sometimes, saying “Yes!” would break me open, and the sorrow, the grief, the anger and confusion would pour out. Sometimes it would take me to the floor, to my knees, weeping; trying to make sense of the pain.

But I knew that if I could say “YES!” and mean it, somehow, it would open a way out of the dark places and into the light.

The other day, with the sun slipping up over the horizon and the birds having a breakfast party next door, I opened the window to a surprisingly warm Spring breeze and I couldn’t help a little shout out, “I say YES! to Life!” And I was suddenly struck by the strangest little Aha!

Conditioned as I’ve been to resignedly accept that Life will serve up the bitter with the sweet, I settled however uncomfortably into the belief that I must accept both if I’m to live fully, living out both the blessings and the hardships with awareness, presence and grace.

But the other morning, I mused: Saying “YES!” to Life, means saying yes to the LIFE that is in everything; every person and creature, every situation. It doesn’t mean glumly accepting an experience I’d rather not be having; it means looking for the Life that is in that experience. It doesn’t mean heroically saying Yes! to kindness and compassion while putting up with a really difficult person; it means looking for the Life in that person, however weak and spindly it might be. It doesn’t mean humbly accepting disappointment and situations that I suspect are either of my own creation, or beyond my control…it means seeking for the Life in those situations as though looking for lost treasure. The Life I find might be a precious lesson that increases my wisdom factor, or leads me away from an old, skanky rut in my brain, or out of a vicious cycle I’ve been recreating for years. It may be a breakthrough in a tangled up relationship or it might open the way to a new friendship. It might be a new perspective on an old situation. It might be the arrival of good news. It might be a new opportunity that my fears had previously blocked. It might be presents. It might be the manifestation of my wildest dreams.

Suddenly, Life looks very different to me. And saying YES! to Life, is suddenly not about “doing the right thing”, or about holding the yawning “black hole” at bay.  Life is suddenly become a grand adventure!  A treasure hunt that cannot be rivaled, not by the grandest pirate king of all. And with it has come a flood of light and peace and little streams of joy, watering the dormant seeds long buried in my heart.

BUCKETFULS OF LIGHT

April 19, 2015

BUCKETFULS OF LIGHT

Once again I am struck by the simplicity of being Light in the world. I get distracted by the people who are doing great work–whose lives and careers have contributed so much to the “common good”. By comparison, my life begins to feel very small and insignificant.

I have a drippy faucet in the bathroom. Accidentally, the lever to plug the sink was pulled and left. At the end of the day, the sink was half full of water, just from the small, insignificant drips that kept on dripping, all day long.

As I sit in the quiet dawn of a spring morning, watching the early birds stretching their wings and looking for breakfast, I imagine a bucket catching the drops of Light that spill over from my Life. Each choice I make to Love rather than to judge or criticize or hate; each choice I make to move into my life with courage; each choice I make to offer gratitude; each smile I gift to someone; each is a drop of Light, dripping into my bucket.

My mother taught me that to Love means to show up. To be present. When I choose to make connection, it is another drop of Light in the bucket.

When I release my disappointment, my anger, my defenses and instead ask what is really going on…what needs to be learned…I allow more Light to drip into my bucket. When I act on the answers, even more Light spills into my bucket.

Suddenly, the bucket is full, overflowing, spilling Light into the world.

Imagine everyone with their bucket, waiting to catch the drops of Light leaking from their life. Full buckets spilling Light all over the city, the country, the world.

Even the shadows of darkness disappear when the Light is strong. We can’t shout down the darkness; perhaps we cannot even vote it out of existence. But we can keep filling our buckets with Light until we flood the whole world and the Darkness has nowhere to go.

It is the small, seemingly insignificant choices to be kind, to choose compassion, to refuse to perpetuate habits and practices that cause harm to ourselves or others, to choose what allows life to thrive within us and around us…this is what it means to be Light in the World; this is how we become the change we want to see in the world.

This is how we fill up our buckets with Light every day.

YANKING AT THE VEIL, KICKING AT THE DOOR

March 29, 2015

CREATING PEARLS OF LIGHT

It is grey here today and rain is predicted. The sky inside me is also grey, brooding. I listened to a presentation this morning about the deeper mysteries of the creation of human beings and of Earth that are coming to light; truths that are only beginning to be understood by the Western World. These are truths, realities, that many indigenous cultures have known for millennia because they were the keepers of the Mysteries, the keepers of the Secrets. I am wondering where I fit into this grander, bigger picture of the Universe, of Earth, of this shifting and evolving that is happening to us. My heart longs to understand what is veiled, to enter the full stream of the power of the Creator. I am irritated that we are fed riddles and enticed with visions of the possible–and yet most of us remain too weak or too dense to come fully into who we are. We have to work so hard, not only to overcome the unconsciousness and the fear within us–but to overcome the evil and darkness that aligns against us from without. I yank at the veil; I want to see things as they truly are, to understand fully who I was created to be! I kick at the doors; I want access–now–to all the desires of my heart. My limitations are a fiery itch under my skin that I cannot ease.

When I stop my kicking and my yanking and my stomping about, I grudgingly acknowledge that all I can do, the most important thing any of us can do is to cultivate compassion, love, kindness, forgiveness and courage. To keep faith and to steadfastly maintain positive thought creations while living from gratitude for whatever IS our experience in this NOW moment. How often have we heard it said, or read, that all we have is this present moment? How much better, how much brighter are each of those moments when they are lived with gratitude, compassion, kindness, and courage–moments strung together, connecting to the moments others are living with compassion and grace. Eventually a string of Light, like a necklace of pearls, reaches all the way around the world–spilling into new moments–lighting up entire days. The Earth turns and we spin through the years. And one distant day from this moment in which we stand today, the Light is complete and the Darkness overcome and Fear vanquished by Love.

The winds of change begin with the flutter of a butterfly’s wing. They begin with a choice to smile bravely; to forgive a wrong; to bless instead of curse. They begin when I steadfastly hold the vision that I am thriving even when in this moment there is no money to pay the bills, my child is ill and somewhere a bomb blows up some mother’s children.

I hold a stick in my hand. I wish it was a wand and that I could channel magic throu10857342_10152711930831439_858846269660153274_ogh it. I kick again at the door. I scratch the itch. I want to do so much more–NOW! I lift my face to the grey sky and let the tears of Gaia drizzle on my face, mingling with my own. I take a breath, and in this moment I offer thanks for this simple pleasure of the gentle rain that will bring the flowers.

 

 

 

 

KEEP FAITH WITH ME

March 6, 2015

KEEP FAITH WITH ME

“Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life reveals just the opposite: that letting go is the real path to freedom.”  – Sogyal Rinpoche –

In a swirl of snow and roiling clouds the color of ashes I skiied across the ballfield and headed into the woods. With nine inches of new snow, I could break trail and go wherever I wished. The trees writhed and groaned as the wind tore through them, leaving only its tattered bits behind to brush against my cheeks. Inside myself a storm also raged, a nameless darkness boiling and screeching.

I found three chairs sitting in a circle of birch trees, holding space around a buried campfire. I stood and watched them for awhile. I became aware of the Circle within mySelf; except the chairs are not empty. And the fire has not gone out. A bit of Winter lingers, but the storm is quieting.

I skiied down the hill. Well, mostly I sat on my skiis and slid down the hill, the feathery snow flying in my face, washing away all trace of tears and leaving me breathless and laughing. I found a clan of cattails alongside the trail and picked one that was only beginning to release its seed to the world. I tucked it into my hand with my ski pole. As I skiied down the trail, little helicopters of cattail seed streamed out behind me, riding the frigid currents of air.

I followed a deer trail back up into the woods. The wind had dragged off most of the piles of dirty clouds and the sun was spilling through the openings, a raging fire against the deep blue sky. Cresting the hill, I wandered off the trail into a natural basin ringed with birch and a huge boulder. I sat and leaned wearily against the boulder, gazing up into the drama in the sky as the last of the fuzzy clouds were blown out over Gitchi Gummi, somewhere beyond these forested bluffs and ridges.

“Keep faith with me.”

Such a quiet, unobtrusive thought to slip in between the ragged clouds slowly dissipating in my soul. “Keep faith with me. Keep faith with yourSelf. Trust.”

I have clung so tenaciously to what I want for my life, to what I want to do with my life, to what I want to do for others. Year after year I struggle against obstacles and hurdles and although I make headway, it seems so little–so far removed from the thriving life of abundance that I desire to create. I get tired. Discouraged. I feel abandoned. I get angry.  And then I feel guilty and ashamed because I have been blessed with so much that is good, and so often experienced the love and support, encouragement and direction of that which is beyond the veil of what my human eyes and ears can see and hear: God, Ancestors, Angels, Light Beings who guard and guide me, the Divine Soul within me. Shredded to tatters like those clouds, bullied about like these trees, my courage and faith are at the mercy of the dark winds of Fear–the Saboteur. And then I cling tighter…I will to create and manifest the life I not only desire, but feel I have been purposed to live. But all I do is tread water, and wait, and grow weary.

I see mySelf now, laying back against that boulder in the snow, all the weariness draining slowly away into the rock and the snow and the earth beneath. My spirit flies away to another scene where I am clinging with my little boat to a tiny bar of earth and rock in the midst of the River of my Life. I am nervous in the rapidly increasing tumble of white water. I insist I cannot continue without assurances of safety–either calmer waters, or a better boat–something! I design a map and wave it about, asking for assurance that the path of my River will conform to this map.

I’m told that all my requests have been received; there is no need to continue waving the map about and shouting out my litany of desires, requests and intentions. “Trust the benevolence of the Creator; of ‘God Inside’. Trust the flow of life that is indeed shaped by your intentions. Trust that the journey will unfold as you allow it to. Get back in the boat and release your fear-filled grip. Let go of the map, let it melt into the Energy of Life that surrounds and fills you. Breathe! Fill your lungs with this sweet Light that is the very Power of Creation, the Power of Life–a Power fueled by Love–a Power that dances with the Joy of Consciousness. Sing! And with trust and gratitude move again into the flow of the River of your Life.”

I won’t know until I go.

This is paddling down the River of my Life: acting upon what I DO know and keeping the promises I’ve made to mySelf, to my Creator and to others. It is honoring the Gift I have been given by developing it and sharing it with the world. It is focusing my energy and love upon the work I’ve been given, embracing joy and gratitude each day. Stroke by stroke, I move down the River, in the flow, the flow of Life that allows more Life.

I don’t know if the path of this River will conform to the map I carried in my head; perhaps it won’t and perhaps I will be glad because there is so much I do not know. Keeping faith with the Creator of the Universe? What a terrifying and awesome request–to trust enough in the benevolence of the Creator to let go of my control, releasing my expectations, and relaxing into Love.

GUERRILLA GARDENING

A POCKET FULL OF SUNLIGHT

September 29, 2014

I was reading a Facebook announcement posted by my son-in-law for a guerrilla gardening event he is holding at the library where he works.  I remember how much fun he had last Spring when he got a group of enthusiastic youth from the community together and made a pile of seed bombs and then went out through the neighborhoods “bombing” all kinds of unlikely places to make them IMG_6854beautiful this summer.  Now they are going to go around the town planting spring bulbs and other things that will bloom come the spring.  I love the concept.  We’re encouraging our youth to sneak around–or go boldly in broad daylight–doing small things that nurture beauty and life and respect for the spaces where we live and work rather than defacing and uglifying them.  

It occurs to me that this is a great metaphor for another type of guerrilla gardening that every single one of us can do every day.  Every morning fill up your pockets with sunlight and plant seeds of Light and Love through out the day.  Good idea?  

As we move from moment to moment through our day we are radiating energetic frequencies.  These energy frequencies will have a lower or higher vibration depending on our thoughts, attitudes and intentions reflected in our emotions and amplified by our words and actions.  Spiritual teachers have been telling us for centuries that this energy we emit shapes our experiences and impacts the world around us.  Now science is demonstrating the physical truth of this.  

An entire community of people might believe that it would be far better to have lovely green spaces throughout the city than to leave them empty, full of trash and weeds, or to cover them up with dirty concrete.  But, someone has to go out and actually plant the seeds.  A group of kids need to throw seed bombs into the vacant lots instead of trash and plant bulbs along the   fences instead of spray painting ugly words.  Groups of us have to go out with rakes and shovels and trash bags and heal the areas that have been beat up.  We each need to choose to discard our trash in the trash can instead of dumping it in parks and on lawns and public sidewalks.  We have to do stuff.

An entire community of people might believe that it is better to love than hate.  Better to encourage others than to criticize them.  Better to be kind than to bully.  But, it is one thing to talk about it, another to live this way.  This is when I am reminded yet again that each waking moment of my day I am actually choosing how to be in my world.  Every day stories make the rounds about persons practicing Random Acts of Kindness, or doing gratitude challenges, or bringing people together to create peaceful solutions to conflict.  More and more of us are choosing to take up the tools we need to clean up and heal the spaces inside us that have been beat up and are ugly and smelly, to plant seeds of Light within our own hearts, and then in our environments and within our families.  We have to do stuff.

It is not easy work.  Old habits of mind are stubborn.  It is difficult to remember that our emotions are a result of our thinking not the other way round.  Our egos are highly skilled at defending us from every perceived threat; this does not always work in our favor.  Fear is sneaky and leaks in wherever it finds a crack or crevice unattended.  Most fear is not the healthy stuff, but the paralyzing ooze from the Dark Side.  

Yes, I like the idea of filling my pockets each morning with seeds of Light and planting them every chance I get throughout my day.   It is a good metaphor to help me when Fear spins out her silky lies, or the hackles on my Ego rise.  Slip my hand in my pocket and pull out a seed of Light–truth, love, gratitude, faith…plant it.  Move on.  It won’t blossom overnight.  Like the vacant lots where those excited kids threw their seed bombs, it will take some time before the seedling breaks the soil, stretches to the light, grows leaves and buds, IMG_8674Proof Sheet  and finally opens to full flower.  But this is where it begins.  There will be no harvest without the seed.  But with each seed there is hope for us and for our world, a promise that we can indeed create a world of beauty and love.  

Go ahead.  Fill up your pockets with sunlight or starlight.  Do some guerrilla gardening today.  Plant seeds of light and love.