Category Archives: Life

SPRING SONG

SPRING SONG

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March 20, 2016

I saw two robins in the slush during our Winter’s final tantrum the other day. They were fighting over what looked to be a worm. It had been raining hard in our part of the city, while snow buried everyone up over the bluffs. Our basement was leaking, proof that the ground was saturated and the earth soft–we knew this because it was easy to pound the metal stakes into the ground to put the deer fence back up around our garden. The tulips were pushing up above the earth–a beloved delicacy for the pregnant does who wander out of the snowy woods into the neighborhood where the snow has retreated, looking for the special treats they crave. So, it might truly have been a winter fattened worm escaping a flooded den. Do worms hibernate in dens? Where do they go when the ground freezes up? The scrawny robin won.

When my children were young, we went for our first ice-cream cone after we saw our first robins in Spring. It was a tradition. But I’ve become lactose intolerant. I bought some fresh strawberries instead that afternoon while it rained, and the school children were at home having a “snow day”.

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This morning the sun came up blazing rose-gold, announcing the first day of Spring. It is streaming in through winter streaked windows, inviting us to fetch our overshoes and go for a muddy trek in the hills. I am making fresh ground-buckwheat pancakes. David is frying bacon. There is a pitcher full of Green Smoothie on the counter filled with pears and pineapple, grapefruit and greens, ginger and celery and cucumber and avocado–we’re getting IMG_3258fortified for our Sunday migration into the bluffs. There are a flock of Redpolls taking turns having breakfast at the feeder outside the kitchen window; getting fattened up for their migration to their summer home in the Arctic–true northerners after my own heart!

I’m going to buy some daffodils from the Market today. It’s a tradition. A vase of Sunshine on my table. Last week we found some pussy-willows just beginning to consider opening up. This week they will be ready. Maybe we’ll find some today as we slog through the mud and navigate the swollen streams in the hills that climb up to the bluffs. From up there we can see our neighborhood laid out like a toy town. Beyond lies the harbor, the bridges, the Lake. We can see all the way to Wisconsin.  We’ll gather some pussy-willows, and fill up our house with Spring. Tonight we’ll go grill steaks at my daughter’s.

Tomorrow we’ll clean out the closets and put away the parkas and the skis.

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LIKE A MATCH STRUCK

November 20, 2015

MORNING SONG

The Earth spins, and we turn from the stars and the deep dark of space into the grey light of dawn. I watch it come, slowly, melting the dark. There is pink now, streaks of watercolor across the dove grey sky. The songbirds are waking up. And then the sun scrapes the edge of the world and ignites the whole sky–a raging flame of orange and rose, shot through with bits of blue and violet. A flock of geese wing their way above the city, dark silhouettes against the flames. Like a match struck in a darkened room, the light flares, and then settles to its task. The flames fade as the Sun leaps over the horizon. The dove grey of dawn slowly becomes a thin, watery blue, darkening and deepening as the Sun climbs into the trees, and then sails over the rooftops of the neighborhood.

It is the fifth day of rain. Piles of storm clouds have sealed off my corner of the world. I sit at my window with my cup of tea, watching the world turn into another twilit day. But I remember; I remember when the sun scraped the edge of the world and the sky burst into flame.

 

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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.

THE END OF A LONG, LONG JOURNEY

WHEN YOU GET TO THE END OF YOUR HERO’S JOURNEY
YOU CELEBRATE…AND THEN SIGN ON FOR ANOTHER!

November 3, 2014

“We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave–to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential.”  – Malala Yousafzai –

For two hours now I have found really important things to do other than write this blog post. I paid some bills. I sent a birthday card to my beautiful niece in London. I sent some emails off to two school principals asking to interview some of their staff for my book. I responded to some texts and emails. I finished the grocery list. I heated up some of my husband’s delicious curried vegetables for lunch. I did some laundry. I checked my to-do list a half dozen times. I found some chocolate. And ate it. I did a writing exercise after reading the article it was about. That was freaky. I was directed to turn the brightness of my screen down until I couldn’t see the words so that I would focus on the feeling of writing and write faster and not be constantly editing. I toasted a piece of my yummy, homemade gluten free bread. And ate it. I opened my blog page and looked to see who is following me. A bunch of folks I never met. That’s cool.

Okay. So, I want to tell you about this amazing weekend I had. I want to use words that will show you rather than tell you, but the words seem to have scurried down the cracks between the floorboards. Or maybe they curled up in the afghan since its only 63 degrees in here. Typical November day–grey. All the leaves fell down so the trees are bare now. The hillside looks like a charcoal drawing–smudgy lines and streaks of grey and black with a few wispy shades of brown brushed through.

I don’t remember anymore what it felt like when I woke up in the morning as a kid. But since sometime in my mid-teens, with extremely rare exceptions, I have always woken up with a knot in my gut. The older I got, the tighter it got. There have been days when I woke up and it wasn’t there. Those days are so incredible that I remember vividly what it feels like. Buoyant. Light. Happy. Easy. I think the last time I was in New York City.

Over the past nearly 20 years I have been on a journey; a quest I supposeSoulCard 6. I have wanted to experience healing in my body, my mind and my heart. Despite feeling a lot of love in my heart for others I have struggled to allow that love to flow outward to them, afflicted with criticalness and judgment, anger and frustration. I’ve been on this hero’s journey to become Grace, to learn to love, to be a light in the world, to make a difference for good, to be the change I want to see–all the time wrestling with these monsters that rage and storm through me. NO TRESPASSING signs don’t work.  They barge in whenever they feel like it.

I’ve studied positive attitude. I’ve studied how to change by changing habits of mind embedded in old belief structures. I’ve worked at it. I’ve worked hard. To my credit, yes, I’ve grown. I’ve learned things and I’ve dismantled old belief and energy structures that were not healthy and did not serve me or my relationships or my work. At one time in my life frequent depressions would flatten my life completely. I used to say it was as though a Black Hole was constantly orbiting my life. I was aware of its presence at all times, wondering when it would suck me into its fathomless depths yet again. But it has been many years since I’ve even sensed that Blackness, none-the-less become its dinner.

And yet, I have still not known what it is like to wake up naturally exuberant and happy and eager to engage in the activities of the day. I love better and deeper than at any other time in my life, and yet, my inner critic is a brazen loudmouth who never shuts up and feels it his duty to include others in his constant critiques. Particularly husbands.

It has been a long journey. Ever been on a long road trip and have your passengers begin asking, “Are we almost there?” And then, more urgently, “Aren’t we there yet?” It’s the same with these hero’s journeys. (Why do they call them hero’s journeys anyway? They so do not feel like anything remotely heroic!) “GThe Hero's Journeyood God, aren’t I almost there? How much longer? This sure looks familiar, haven’t I been here before? Didn’t I already cover this section? Wait a minute–I do not have to go down inside that, do I? Really? It’s the only way through to the other side? Oh shit. Okay, so I made it through. I’m still alive. I’m on the other side… …So how come I’m still not there yet?! How much further? How much longer? I’m lost. This sucks. I just want to be happy, like, really happy. I just want to be able to do life successfully, to love well, to be light in the world, to do good work. Consistently. I feel like I’m battering on locked gates and kicking at locked doors and trying to find my way through a veil of fog. ARRGGHH!”

Yeah, that’s a hero’s journey.  Maybe it got that name because if you manage somehow to stick with it until you actually do come to the end of it, however battered and bruised, the very fact you didn’t give up makes you a hero of some kind.Beyond the Door

Okay. Last weekend. While I was sleeping, I guess, I came to the end of it. I arrived. I finally made it through the locked door into another world. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I don’t know why on Saturday and not last year or ten years ago or not until March 15th next year. It was now. I woke up and I could feel it in my body–something had shifted. It would be like having a pounding migraine headache for 3 weeks and suddenly waking up and it’s gone. Completely gone. It was like the morning I woke up years ago and I knew the Black Hole was gone. I just knew. And it was. And it never came back.

I feel light in my body. The knots and edginess are gone. The energy of those around me no longer feels like I’m trying to tolerate someone running their fingernails down a chalkboard. The thought of “work” no longer feels like an order to climb a mountain dragging a broken leg. Even thinking of the pile of bills for which there is no money elicits rising excitement to see how on earth this will all work out!

Whatever the blockages to the flow of Divine energy through my physical and emotional body have been, they aren’t there now. I feel love, warm and vibrant inside me. Flows of LoveI feel that love flowing through me and from me. I feel sorrow for the pain I have caused others–and oh, how clearly I can see it now that I don’t feel that knee-jerk egotistical defensiveness! I’m looking full in the face the ways that my self-absorption, selfishness, and especially all my fears have harmed others, but though I feel some grief and regret, I no longer feel worthless. Instead I feel renewed responsibility to do better. And I feel like I have the energy to do so.

The beauty in the world around me and in the people around me fills me up with happy joy! I marvel that so many people in the world wake up this way every day. I marvel at what we could all achieve in our lives and how much more loving a world this would be if we could all be free from the bondage of Fear that poisons and taints every aspect of our lives. Fear is the Dark Destroyer–the Dark Consciousness–the Father of Lies and Illusion.

I am free. For those of you who are also free–you are blessed. For those of you who wrestle monsters in the dark, don’t give up. Don’t give up. And hold fast the thought that even if you cannot see or feel it, there is a loving Presence that is with you, always.

All Through the Night
Sleep my child and peace attend theeThe Guardian
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee
All through the night

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber steeping
I my loving watch am keeping
All through the night

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night

O’er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night

Photos courtesy of David Jensen, Northern Visions Media
Soul Card images from Soul Cards 2 by Deborah Koff-Chapin of Touch Drawing

A FALL OF DIAMONDS

A FALL OF DIAMONDS

October 31, 2014

Bottle green she runs relentlessly at the shelf of cobblestones and the slabs of boulders. She falls back white and frothy, scrabbling at the pebbled beach, the stones rolling and bouncing. Along the slabs and towers of boulders she takes a run and heaves herself high into the air–ten, fifteen, sometimes more than twenty feet.  She falls back, a shower of sun-drenched diamonds filling up the grooves and gullies.  Exhilarated she bounces off the waves retreating from the shoreline and others coming in for their run. Like swaggering boys chest bumping, like two antler tangled stags, the waves collide and throw more diamonds into the sky. And the cobblestones roar and the waters crash and the diamonds fall.

Waves inside me roll and crash, battering the boundaries beyond which I cannot go–I cannot touch–I cannot control. Fear collides with compassion and all is reeling and roaring and colliding on the surface of my consciousness–throwing diamonds in the sky.  But deeper down, under the posturing and the macho chest bumping, the tumbling and twisting, I detect a  stillness. Below the chaos there is peace.

Perhaps in this now I can be happy.  In this now, and in the next now, stringing them together like buttons and beads on a thread, I might find many things for which I am grateful and awestruck, I might dare to believe that all will be well.  Once the chaos on the surface settles down what remains behind might be different than it was before–rearranged.  But maybe the changes will not be about loss, or destruction.  They could just as well be another way to see.  Something new to experience.

The Sea just rolled in a 20 foot jumper, showering me with diamonds even here below the tree where I thought it safe and dry. “Come and play!” she roars.

WE CAME HERE TO THRIVE

October 10, 2014

WE CAME HERE TO THRIVE

“I did not come here to this Earth to struggle or suffer.  Nor did you.  I came here to thrive.” 

Someone I greatly respect wrote this some months ago.  It has set me to thinking deeply about my own suffering and that which I witness daily around me; to reflect on what I have been taught about struggle and suffering.  Because, whether it is our purpose to suffer or not, we do struggle and we do suffer.  Some of us wear our struggles and suffering as a badge of honor.  I know I have at times.  But if we are here to thrive, if we are here first and foremost to experience love and joy, happiness and abundance, then we have to own that our suffering and our struggles are messes we create.  If we are here to experience love and create a world where all can thrive, then the suffering is the dross to be cleared away.

We are living on a planet in a dimension of duality, where all things have their opposite and we have been given the ability to freely choose between those opposites.  Even the teachings of so many Wise Ones and Religious traditions aside, we see the evidence before our own eyes that all of the Universe conspires to create Life–and where we see life thriving, whether it is a body of water, a garden or a child, we find plenty of what will nourish that life, including love.  Love in all its forms seems to be at the heart of Life itself.  Doesn’t it make sense that we came here to learn what Love is?  Where could it be better understood and experienced than in a place where we can also experience it’s opposite?

So, I agree.  We did not come here to struggle and suffer even though we will experience these.  We came here to thrive.  We came here to Love.  We came here to contribute good to this world.  We came here to be Light.  We came here to be filled up with joy and happiness.  We carry within us the essence of the Creator of all things– the pure energy of Life.   Why would we ever wish to choose to be miserable, filled up with anger and hate, to radiate energy that weakens and destroys?

Criticism creates an energy that does not feel safe, and those experiencing it instinctively engage their “fight or flight or freeze response”.  The energy of criticism and judgment is destructive.  I have suffered the fallout of this kind of energy, and I have too often turned it on others.  It has never once helped to nurture life.  What we are drawn to are those who radiate love, compassion, kindness; it is within this kind of energy that we are able to grow, to change if need be, to become our best selves.  It is within this kind of energy that life is able to thrive.

Love, kindness, joy and gratitude, these are the badges of honor to seek.  This is what I am here to experience, what I am here to do.

I am learning that it really is a matter of choice.  And I have been given the amazing gift to do so–to choose.