Category Archives: Uncategorized

GUILTY AS CHARGED

July 15, 2014

GUILTY AS CHARGED

She recommended I read the book, Delivered from Distraction, about Attention Deficit Disorder.  Just the name of this type of brain-wiring disturbs me with labels of “deficit” and “disorder”.  Labels aside however, I realize with just a quick scan that though undiagnosed, my husband is living inside the ADD textbook.  This is information that will deliver me from “crazy”.  It will also challenge me at the core of my own “brain-wiring”.  The first time the possibility of my husband being an ADD dude was suggested our marriage was beginning to come apart at the seams.  I read enough for it to save our marriage.  But that was some years ago and the details of information fade over time leaving only impressions.  And fundamental wiring resets back to default mode and…oh my.

Shit hits the fan.  Regularly.

Walls go up.  Trust wobbles.   Old tapes start up, repeating old beliefs about value and worth, tangling up the past with the present.

So she tells me to read.  She recommends the book.  I get it from the library.  I scan the chapter titles and turn to the one about the mates of those with ADD.  And I read:

“…tend to fall in love with, live with or marry someone who is controlling, critical, demeaning, belittling and very well organized…”

OMG!  He did!  I am sweet and kind, loving and altruistic.  Sometimes.  I am also a perfectionist and value excellence, organization, beauty and cleanliness nearly as much as life itself.  I have a brain that can scan a scene and see every nuance of everything that might matter–from the dirt in the corner to the crooked picture on the wall, the moods of the people and the way the room is arranged and decorated–the beauty and the base.  I also have the ability to consider the big picture of a situation and quite quickly comprehend what is needed to fall into place and very possibly by when if the goal is going to be achieved.  I am intense and quiet and serious much of the time.  It has been quite a journey to learn to relax.  When those around me don’t value excellence and perfection, or whose disorganization and mess impact my life, my space or my plans, the flip side of my sweet and adorable self rears up; what did the book say…controlling, critical, demeaning?  Yeah.

Because I am also an Aquarian 4 on the Enneagram personality profile, (which by the way means that life should be perfect and beautiful and organized and artsy-fartsy and after all, is really all about me) so when I’m frustrated and feel disempowered or helpless I’m wired to resort to either deep depression (anger turned inside-out) or rage (anger turned right-side-out)…all that controlling, critical, demeaning, frustrated, exasperated, confused, bemused energy flung at the target with the energy of a pro-pitcher…bullseye.  Home-run.  Whatever.  You know what I mean.

“…what they really need is someone who sees the best in them and helps to bring it out.  They need someone who sees more positive in them than they might see in themselves.  They need someone who loves them for who they are.”

Yes.  And not just need.  He deserves to be loved, unconditionally, for who he is–the wonderful admirable qualities–of which he has many–and the other stuff.  Don’t we all need this?  We all screw up.  Even us perfectionists.  Maybe especially us perfectionists.  We all desire to be known truly and fully and loved for who we are.  But our culture conditions us from the time we can toddle that love comes with price-tags and conditions.  There are rules to be followed.  Break the rules, lose the love.  Don’t pay the piper, the song is silenced.  It is no surprise that the young people I work with when asked what the Golden Rule is most often respond quite confidently, “Treat others the way they treat you.”

Long ago I set an intention to put my feet on a path to learn to love–deeply, truly, unconditionally.  As I have walked this path, I have discovered that “nice” isn’t enough.  Nice is like frosting; it can look good, maybe taste good, but can be covering over cake that is inedible.  Nice doesn’t have to be genuine.  Love does.  I’ve also learned that forgiveness and appreciation are key to genuinely loving both the folks at home–which sometimes are the most difficult to love without condition–and strangers on the street and corrupt political leaders and cruel men and women out in the world who seem to care nothing for the misery they create.  It’s easier to find forgiveness for and send blessings to some corporate CEO I’ve never met than my husband who found more interesting things to do than the tasks that he promised to get done 3 months ago…five years ago…uh-huh.  I can curse the CEO knowing that the negative blast of energy I’ve discharged does nothing to help the situation and probably contributes to the dark juju spreading through our world.  Oh well.  But curse my husband and I can see the tear I’ve made in the fabric of his spirit–the wretched unraveling of the seams of our relationship–the heavy energy I’ve created in our home; the wound I’ve made in my own heart.

As I’ve walked this path it takes me higher up and deeper in.  I discover the roots of old things in my heart that prevent love from thriving.  Wow are they stubborn to remove!  I find toxic waste dumps in my psyche where I learned to store the anger and hurt from a lifetime.  Removing that has taken time and care and persistence.  I am learning that I must forgive myself and love myself before it ever can really work to forgive and love another person.  That lesson is sticky.

I’ve also come to understand that loving someone can be as simple as making a choice in the breath between the seconds of stimulus and response.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  – Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning –

And sometimes, love is as easy as smiling.

Smiling is like turning on a faucet…humor and love and happiness begin to flow.

I’m practicing smiling.  I find it makes being cranky more difficult.  

CATCHING UP

June 30, 2014

CATCHING UP

I made a commitment to myself to work on one blog a week (and hopefully post it) this year.  Ah well…best laid plans and great intentions and all that.  Actually, in May, I did work on 3 additional blogs besides the one I posted.  But I got hung up.  Not exactly writer’s block.  I was writing furiously.  More like I couldn’t say clearly what I wanted to say.  I am told that it is important as a writer to be willing to write badly.  Okay.  I’m willing to write badly.  I’m just not willing to allow others to read my bad writing.

I finally abandoned one of the entries and deleted it.  The second one is still pining away in my draft box.  The third one I really want to share with you.  But I have to find a way to do it so you won’t all think I’ve finally lost my tenuous hold on reality…that or quit reading in the middle because it’s just too damn many words.

Here’s how it starts:
Who Is Your “Inner Critic”?  My “inner critic” is also known as my “Ego”.  And, for purposes of helping me to learn, my Ego has taken on the form of a Tiger and his name is Jack.  So I suppose the bigger question is: WHAT is your “Ego”?  Or perhaps, WHO?” 

Sorting through all our cultural and religious explanations about what our ego is, getting to know my Ego and finally negotiating a cease-fire with this very intrinsic part of myself has been a fascinating journey.

How about this, I’ll tell my story if you’ll tell me yours:  What or who do you identify your Ego and/or Inner Critic to be?  Write me in the comment box here…or email me at maryskillings@mac.com.

*****************************
So, really, if I count the three posts I worked on in May, two of which still languish in my draft box, I was actually still on track with my blog commitment until June arrived hugging the skirts of May.  The first week of June I journeyed back to Duluth from Chicagoland after spending nearly three months there helping my daughter with her family after she went back to work.  Weeks and days with new baby Rowan, born in January, and newly turned four-year-old superhero Morgan.  It was quite the adventure!  
So was coming home.  I left early summer in Chicago and was transported a month back in time after a mere 9 hour drive north.  I traded 70 and 80 degree weather for 40’s and 50’s, some 60’s and on two occasions, 70’s.  But that’s okay.  I wilt when it gets hot.  I’m a true northerner.  Although when I had to turn the heat on one day I thought maybe that was getting just a little ridiculous.
My house felt strange.  My routines all forgotten.  The house and garden were begging for attention–but I had no energy to clean and dig.  I worked at my writing but my brain was full of fog.  So I went to the Lake and read some books and visited girlfriends and went fishing and ate great food prepared by my husband.  (His latest invention being a wild rice/chicken/mango/ginger-garlic-sweet onion/herb mixture grilled on (in?) a large portabella mushroom…drool).  Slowly, I settled back in.

And now I’m back to work.  I have had to answer the question, “What do you do?” quite frequently lately.  I am unapologetically responding that my current work, my job, is writing.  I don’t know why I was chosen to have this gift and this calling…I am humbled and honored and full of gratitude that I get to do this.

And if sometimes the words are powerful, if a little grace, a little love, a little light shines through and sets off a spark or a smile in my reader…I am content.

So…to work.

THE VERY IMPORTANT SMALL THINGS

May 7, 2014

THE VERY IMPORTANT SMALL THINGS

I look into his large brown eyes.  Someone very much alive is looking back.  He doesn’t have language yet, at least not people language.  Yet, he is thinking—something.  The corner of his little mouth turns up without breaking the rhythm of his sucking.  His eyes smile.  I feel sweet, untainted  love radiate from his squirmy little body into mine.  The bottle empties.  He lets go the nipple and sighs.  Then he squeals and grins and kicks his pudgy little legs.  I lift him up for burping.  He stands sturdily on my thighs.  He is all of two feet high, maybe.

In another five weeks I will be gone–swept back to the Northlands to my little house and my woods and my Great Lake.  Back to my solitude and my writing.  Back to gardening and kayaking and camping with my husband.  For now, I am my grandsons’ nanny.

I have been here now for seven weeks.  It is the most intense lesson I have had in being present, living in the Now.  I have friends traveling in Europe.  I have a friend who went sailing in the Caribbean.  I have a friend acting in a play.  I have friends working hard at teaching and politicking and doing all manner of important work.

I make breakfasts and dinners and do up the laundry and sweep up the floors and blow little noses and change dirty diapers and play “Fight the Goblins” in the park with a four year old.  When asked, “what’s going on in your life?” I’m not sure what to say.  Today I made bread and took a walk through the neighborhood with the baby and chatted with the local drunk who wished me a wonderful day and found a little vase for the fistful of dandelions my four-year-old grandson brought to me.

About a year and a half ago I took on a part time job as a nanny to bring in some supplemental income.  I hadn’t provided regular, hands-on “mommy care” for babies and pre-schoolers for a very long time with the exception of a few weeks here and there with my grandson.  A few weeks into the job I had a self-worth crisis.  After changing a poopy diaper and then trying to carry a very fussy, very heavy one-year-old around, I kept thinking, “What am I DOING here?!  I should be teaching!  I should be providing consulting services to some organization or school!  I’ve “been here, done this” a LONG time ago!”  I felt angry and small.

It got worse, or rather, I got worse.  I began to engage in vicious games of “If Only I’d…” and “Compared to Her”…  One afternoon as I rocked the fussy child to sleep, something inside me broke open.  I cried.  A soggy, smelly mess of nasty, old, mouldering energy poured out, toxic junk from a long ago time when I didn’t feel like I was of much value “just being a mom”.  I had tried to be the best mom I could, of course, but I don’t know that I collected any gold stars or honors certificates; certainly not any mother-of-the-year trophies, which to me, at the time, meant I’d not even managed to be very successful even at “just being a mom”.  I watched the sleeping child in my arms.  “Who are you?” I whispered.  “From where did you come?  Why did you come?  Maybe I am caring for a child who will grow up to be a great man and who will do really important work in the world, I thought.  What are you here on this Earth to do?  What gifts have you brought?”  In this little human body is a great Being of Light trying to come to terms with being human, I thought.  A Being constrained by time and space and the human growth cycle and experience–for now, at the mercy of his caretakers.  Perhaps this Being, outside of the time and space we both have incarnated into here on Earth, is my Teacher, a great Master, a Leader…

The longer I thought about this, the more humbled I felt.  I knew what a privilege it is to do this work of service–caring for the small ones.  Whether they are our own children or someone else’s doesn’t matter–we are all one, all connected, all individuated aspects of Consciousness, or as Einstein would say, Universe.  But I think I had only known this in my head.  That afternoon with the golden haired little toddler my heart opened and let the fullness of this truth into a space it had not been able to reach before.  The rest of my time at that job I felt honored and important and regarded my work as sacred.  I was greeted warmly when I arrived and sent home with kisses and repeated goodbyes and I love yous, no less valuable for coming from a 2 and 6 year old than a grown-up; my work no less important than that of a professor in front of a packed lecture hall.

Now, 18 months later, I look deeply into the eyes of this beautiful three month old grandson of mine.  My heart fills up and my breath catches as I open up to this privileged time learning to be so very Present.  My to-do list and my early morning meditation spent visualizing my ideal day is sure to be adjusted several times over. This is where I get to be today.  Here with these children.  Taking time to watch the ants build a home in the cracked sidewalk.  Teaching a little boy how to pick a flower by the stem, and hold his shirt sleeves in his fist when putting on his jacket. Rolling on the floor giggling as we invent new things “the fox says”; telling stories “with my mouth” (i.e. made up ones).  Today the baby discovered his toes.  Last week he giggled.  The week before he discovered he could do all kinds of things with his voice.  I get to witness these discoveries.

Some day perhaps he will win a Nobel Prize for some other discovery and perhaps if I am lucky, I will get to witness that as well.

HAPPY FACE

HAPPY FACE
April 25, 2014
 
Melvin woke up.  He rocked.  Gently the waters lifted him, and gently set him down again.  Up…and down.  Up…and down.  He and his tribe.  Up…and down.  High above in the black waters of space the rock of the moon smiled down at Melvin.  Melvin smiled back. 
No matter where you are…no matter what you do…keep lighting up the world with your smile.

FEAR IS NOT REAL

April 19, 2014

Fear Is Not Real

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”
–from Cypher Raige in the movie “After Earth”–

I was asked recently what lesson, or idea seems to keep coming up for me–one I haven’t mastered or moved through or achieved as yet.  I didn’t have to think very long or very hard. 

“Fear,” I said. 

I know I am not alone in this one.  Most of the human population is radiating a frequency of fear. 

The way I learn best is through story.  I am so grateful to the great storytellers who are making it possible for us to wake up from our deep slumbers and take back our lives.  The Wachowski’s The Matrix… that one comes to mind over and over as I observe the world around me–too many people still choosing the illusions that allow them to dream their lives away asleep; others waking up with a Roar, spitting out the amniotic fluids that held them in suspended animation. 

J.K. Rowling’s Boggarts from the world of the Harry Potter series are a favorite of mine, as are her Dementors, both such rich examples of how our own thoughts and beliefs, our perception of reality, creates how we experience reality.  Boggarts are strange little creatures, harmless except for their ability to morph into what we most fear–and gain more substance and power in direct proportion to the intensity of our fear.  If we believe it is real, it is.  If we believe it is not, if we disengage from it, it suddenly disappears and returns to it’s state of unformed potentiality.  Dementors on the other hand have form and substance and sustain themselves by feeding on the emotional energy of humans–in particular the positive energy of joy and happiness.  Similarly, our own negative thoughts can become so real, and gather so much energy, that they can completely drain away any sense of happiness, peace, joy, and hope even though in truth, these are accessible to us–we simply begin to believe they are not, and therefore, they are not. 

The other day I watched the movie After Earth starring Will Smith as Cypher Raige and his son Jaden Smith as Cypher’s son, Kitai.  The movie did not get good reviews, so I wasn’t expecting it to offer much.  Once again I wonder at the lack of insight of so many of our loud-mouthed reviewers.  It may not be the movie of the year, but it is a lovely little gem.  As one more discerning reviewer noted:  “This movie is a fable.  Fables teach.” 

There are a number of ideas woven into the story, but the predominant one is about Cypher’s quote above…that fear is not real.  The monster in the movie is an Ursa, a blind predator that can only track its human prey by smelling the pheromones humans give off when they are afraid.  The only way a human will be able to escape or defeat an Ursa once its found him is if he is successful in disengaging from his fear.  Once again, I see deeper than the monster raging about the screen and the terrified young man scrambling to save his life…and I see the toxic creations in my own life sculpted from the clay of my own fearful beliefs. 

It reminds me of a Native American story I read of how it is that the “medicine” (life energy) of Rabbit became Fear…  In some Native American traditions Rabbit became known as the Fear Caller.  …He goes out and shouts, “Eagle, I am so afraid of you.” If Eagle doesn’t hear him, Rabbit calls louder, “Eagle, stay away from me!  Do you hear me?  Don’t eat me!  Eagle, do you hear?  I’m talkin’ to you, Eagle!” Eagle, now hearing Rabbit, comes and eats him.  Rabbit calls bobcats, wolves, coyotes, and even snakes until they come.  We can learn from the rabbit that if we are always afraid of something then we may draw/create the very experience we are afraid of into our lives. Fear sends out a certain vibrational energy that may attract the very thing we fear. Fearful thoughts reproduce (like rabbits) and manifest what we fear. 

In the movie Cypher tells his son the story of how he became fearless and therefore inaccessible to the Ursas.  “We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.”  I too am changing my story.  Boggarts, I laugh at your ridiculous charade.  Be gone.  Dementors,  the one energy that is toxic to you is the energy of pure love: and so I practice becoming Grace; I practice love.  Ursus…well, isn’t it strange, I have become invisible to you.  I am free.

And the Lady climbed upon the back of her Tiger and they ran upon the land, and they ran upon the clouds, and they ran all the way to the Stars…

FIGHTING GOBLINS AND RESCUING PRINCESSES

April 7, 2014

FIGHTING GOBLINS WITH SUPERHERO MORGAN

I walked with three-year old Morgan, soon to be four, the three blocks to the little playground next to a neighborhood ball park.  We looked for daffodils growing up beside the houses and talked of birds and worms, the dietary habits of squirrels and why the rain makes the grass turn green.  We tried a short cut through the tennis court, but the gate was locked, so we took the other short cut through the alley. 

“What’s an alley, Nonna?” 

“It’s a little road behind the back yards of the houses.  See?  We’re walking down an alley.”  We heard a rooster defending his territory. 

“Nonna, what’s that sound?”

“A rooster.”

“Is a rooster a daddy chicken or a mommy chicken, Nonna?”

We arrived at the Park.  Morgan ran for the largest layout of blue and green and orange equipment that included platform stairs, a tunnel, a swinging bridge, a curved stair ladder, a lookout post and a 10′ tunnel slide.  He scampered up to the lookout post before I could even catch up and hurled himself down the slide…and did a full body face plant into the mud at the bottom.

You know how one of the funniest not-funny sights is someone slipping on the ice?  The next funniest not-funny sights is a little boy covered in mud–face, belly, hands, knees–just after a half-flip belly flop face-plant off a slide.  Morgan looked about to cry and much to my shame, I burst out laughing.  He looked at me in confusion.  His brain was registering tragedy and calling for tears, but his Nonna was having a complete giggle melt down.  Tragedy lost to Giggles and soon we were both laughing while he spit out mud and wood chip fibers and I brushed what dirt I could off his nose and chin and hands.

He actually looks pretty clean here; we’ve removed most of the mud…but he’s still working on spitting out the mouthful of grit he got…

“Nonna, the Bad Guys are hewr.  They pushed me down the slide.  We bettow find ow fighting sowrds ’cause we need to fight bad guys.”

“What kind of bad guys?”

“Zombies.”  He looked around.  “No!  Theys Goblins!  Theys the wust kind!”

He grabbed a stick sword, I grabbed a stick wand.  I said my wand could get more goblins.  He said, “Ok, Nonna.  You can use a wand this time.  …Oh no!  Hewre they come Nonna!”

We fought Goblins.  It was quite a noisy battle. 

“Nonna!  We have to wescue the pwincess!”  He took off to climb the stairs and cross the swinging bridge and climb up the roundy ladder…  “You fight the goblins, Nonna, so I can wescue the pwincess!”

The tower was breached successfully.  “Hurry, Morgan!  Grab the Princess!  Where are we taking her?”

“To that bench oveer thewr!”

“Is that where she lives?”

“No, she’s fwom Cavelot.  But we can make hewr safe thewr on the bench and fix hewr ouchies.  That’s the hospital, Nonna.”

“Ok.  You better pick her up and carry her over your shoulder.”

“Ok, Nonna.  …Whew…weew safe now.  You fix hewr ouchies with yous wand, Nonna.  She’s a beautiful pwincess, Nonna.  Do you think she’s vewy pwetty, Nonna?”

“Oh, definitely, Morgan.  She’s very pretty.”

“…Oh-oh, Nonna.  Hewr come mowr Goblins!  Mowr and mowr and mowr and mowr…Fight Nonna!”

“Morgan, I think they captured another princess!  I think they turned her into a bird!”

“Yous wight, Nonna!  Only she’s not a biwrd.  She’s a winosowus.  The Goblins changed her into a winosowus.”

“Oh no!  We’ve got to get her out of here!  You better kiss her, Morgan, turn her back into a beautiful Princess!  But be careful of her horn!

“Nonna, I’m not Mowgan.  I’m a Pwince.  I’m a Supeohewo Pwince!  And I can’t kiss the winosowus pwincess.”

“Why can’t you kiss the princess, Prince Superhero?”

“‘Cause I’ll get make-up on my face!”

“So who’s going to turn her back into a Princess?  You don’t want her to be stuck being a rhinoceros, do you?”

“Nonna, you can do it with yous wand!”

“Oh.”

“Ok.  I will cawwy hewr over to the bench…I mean the hospital.”

“Prince Superhero, where do the Princesses live?  Should we take them home?”

“Yeah.  They live with the King in Afwica.  We can fly in the aiwplane to Afwica.  But you have to fight off the Goblins while I cawwy the pwincesses, okay Nonna?”

“Ok Prince Superhero.”

“Yay!  We made it Nonna!  You got the Goblins!  Now we need to fly the beautiful Pwincesses to Afwica!”

“Nonna, quick, we got to take the Pwincesses to the King before more Goblins get us!  Huwwy, Nonna.  Theys coming…the Goblins aw coming!  Mowr and mowr and mowr…”

“Prince Superhero, let’s get back to our plane and fly somewhere else!”

“Okay, Nonna.  We’s going to Austwaila, now.  To visit the Kangawoos.  I don’t know if theys Goblins thewr.  See Nonna?  Thewrs the Kangawoos!  We’ll land the aiwplane by the Kangawoos.”

“Nonna, the Kangawoos can talk.  They’s Mommy Kangawoos with theys babies in theys pockets and Daddy Kangawoos–theys have babies in theys pockets too.”

And so we had a lovely conversation with the Kangaroos of Australia and discovered that they were also under Goblin attack.  Soon we were fighting more Goblins and discovered that they had captured several Princesses that needed rescuing.  Six princesses to be exact.  According to the Little Prince they were all from the Star Planet Shada Zuken Sak.   We rescued them…and just barely making our escape from the evil and ever present Goblins, the Prince and I flew them in our airplane out beyond the Moon and past the Sun until we came to the Star Planet Shada Zuken Sak.

Upon our arrival, the Little Prince made a mad dash for the castle carrying six pretty princesses on his strong shoulders while his brave Nonna fought off a horde of Goblins.  Apparently the entire Universe is suffering from an infestation of Goblins–there is no escaping them.

He was successful…suffering only a broken arm
in the battle.

All six princesses survived and were very happy to be home again. 

 Nonna was called upon to do some magic with her wand to try to make the broken arm of the Prince better–but her wand broke before the spell was cast.

 “Nonna, you will have to take me to the dentist to get my awm fixed cause yous wand is bwoken.”

“I see.  Where is the dentist?”

“Can’t you see, Nonna?  Ovew thewr!”

“Ah, yes.  Under the slide.”

“But you have to get a new wand, Nonna, ’cause theys a lot of Goblins coming.”

“Okay.  Let’s make a run for it, Prince!”

“Good job, Nonna.  You got the Goblins and fixed my awm.”

“I think we need to fly in our airplane back to Earth, now Prince.  Daddy and Mommy are waiting for us to come home.”

“Okay.  But aftew we fly home we have to take the twain.”

“Okay.”

One airplane flight, two more Goblin battles, one train ride, and then a narrow escape from another horde of Goblins later…we were headed out of the park.”

“Nonna, I think more Goblins are going to follow me and gwab my feets!”

“Oh dear.  You better ride on Nonna’s back then…they can’t get you then.”

“Are we going frew the alley again, Nonna?  Whewre’s the wooster?  Who’s that guy–what’s he doing?  Does the wooster live in that biwrdhouse?  Those are cool box gawdens.  Weally–that’s what my Daddy is making fo ow home?  Why is it called a daffodil?  Maybe we can have a tweat when we get home!  I’m hungwy.  Can we pway bad guys when we get home?  Not Goblins, Nonna…zombies.”

RAINBOW MAKERS

March 31, 2014
RAINBOW MAKERS

“Let someone love you, just the way you are, as flawed as you might be… To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.” – Marc Hack

This morning I found the quote above in my Kind Spring’s weekly newsletter.  I thought about it while I cleaned up the kitchen and rocked my grandbaby to sleep. As I rocked, my thoughts carried this idea down a different track… “Choose to love another, just the way he is, as flawed as he may be.  To think that he must not have any rough edges, or show any broken parts because either of you fear that if he does you will feel he is unworthy of your love, your forgiveness, patience, understanding or kindness, is to believe that no one is worthy of love, including yourself, unless they are perfect.

Which is not unlike thinking that nothing is good unless it is perfect.

I have stumbled on a nasty, thorny, unwelcome weed in my inner garden.  I have uncovered a brule (bullshit rule).  Because though I would deny it, I realize that somewhere underneath all the shiny smears of positivity, this ancient belief with its many runner roots is still very much alive in me.

I’ve been dismantling old Brules (bullshit rules) that I’ve lived by and under based on the models that have shaped my reality.  It’s been quite a fascinating project, really, figuring out what some habitual reactive behavior of mine is really rooted in.  

What, in my world, is this concept we call “perfect”?  Who determines what constitutes perfection?  Does it mean to never make a mistake?  But who decides it is a mistake?  A wise woman once told me that there is no such thing as a mistake–only lessons–only learning–only experiencing.  Is being perfect more like what Henry Higgins suggests in My Fair Lady, “why can’t [you] be like me”; think and do things the way I think and do things!  Does being perfect mean we should measure up to the standards we see in the movies and media, or to measure up to the spiritual standards of our religions and of the demands of the gods and goddesses that we have created?

What does someone need to be like to be acceptable to me?    

I don’t know.  I think it is subject to the weather and that the truth is closer to Henry Higgins’ definition than any other.   

My thoughts took a right turn.  (Or maybe it was a left turn…)  A rainbow is beautiful, but it is in truth, broken light.  Imperfect Light.  Flawed Light, if you care to think of it that way.

Perfect, unbroken light is “white”–pure colorless illumination.  Break the light by shining it through a mist of water or a crystal and suddenly you have color…beauty…brilliance…the promise of sunshine after rain, of light pouring through the cut glass of a window or a cup, spraying rainbows across floors and walls and ceilings. 

My perfect union with the Divine, perfect Light–is broken when I am poured into the prism of this  human body to live a human life experiencing a physical, three dimensional universe.  If I allow the Perfect Light to shine through me, I will cast rainbows over everyone and everything that moves through my space; all the attributes of the Perfect Light.  If I close myself off from that Light…there is only the grey darkness, shadows.

No one is ever unworthy of love–of kindness and forgiveness.  The Light simply shines, always, on everything and everyone.   The Light is always there.  If I am willing, the Light will shine through me, breaking apart and splashing the colors of It’s nature on everyone about.  If I am unwilling and choose to block the Light, the Light is still there, still shining, never retreating, never failing–but I cast only shadows.

Is this a model for living that I can build upon?  Can I let go of my belief that we all must always try to be “perfect” because our deservedness of love and respect is in direct proportion to the perfection we have achieved?  That is like asking ourselves and others to BE the perfect Light rather than a vessel for It’s refraction in the world.  That is like demanding that we be the sun, instead of the rainbow makers.    

 

MY GARDEN OF ABUNDANCE

March 29, 2014

MY GARDEN OF ABUNDANCE

I have this gift of a day to live–healthy, strong in my body and mind.  I have the gift of sight to look out at the blue sky–a sheet of pale, robin’s egg blue.  The great Maple Tree whose skin grew as though it were a skirt twirling in a dance is silently pumping life into red buds.  They are slowly swelling, gathering force.  Another day I will find them busted open, dangling tiny green leaves.

As is the land here in the North, so I too am waking up–to new models of reality through which to perceive the world, to new systems of living.  As in our gardens here in the North, I am clearing the winter debris–the old models, old beliefs which no longer serve me or others; discarding the Brules that have governed my life.  I like this word, Brules.  It means, “Bullshit rules”.  I also like the word Blisscipline.  It sounds so much happier and more exciting than the drudgery of being disciplined!

I have long been a student of the concept that our thoughts create our beliefs and that it is these beliefs that determine our attitudes and thus our behavior patterns.  To successfully change a behavior, change the belief.  Simple.  Never-the-less I have found change a slow and difficult process because beliefs never exist in isolation.  Rather, they are part of a larger model, a more complex construct of reality that we create based on what we believe to be true about the world we live in.  We all have a huge network of rules supporting entire systems that govern who we are and how we respond to our experiences based on the models, the beliefs, we have adopted.  Trying to just change one or a few “nasty habits” without examining the larger picture–the whole model and the system it supports–makes it pretty tough work.  It’s much easier if we are willing to simply wake up and ask ourselves the important questions.  And answer them, of course. 

Why do I do this?   
Why am I angry? 
What am I afraid of?
What do I believe to be true that I feel the need to act like this? 
Is this really true? 
Where did this belief come from?
Is it mine? 
What is the rule that I’m minding when I act like this? 
Is it a healthy rule–or a brule

Brules are Bullshit Rules that we adopt to simplify our understanding of the world.  How do we know the difference between a Brule or a Rule?  Ask more questions. 

Is your rule based on trust and hope? 
Does it serve your happiness? 
Does it violate the Golden Rule? 
Does it come from cultural or religious systems/models? 
Does it come from rational choice or social conditioning?

Early this past winter I read a quote a friend had posted that became a pivotal moment for me: I choose to let go of all that does not serve me, anything that prevents me from thriving.  I considered this deeply and realized there were a number of situations in my life that definitely did not serve me nor allow me to thrive, and thus prevented me from serving my family and community better that they also might thrive.  Since learning about brules, I realize that I have perpetuated these situations because, after all, one must make the best of life and gain never comes without pain and it’s the cards I’ve been dealt and don’t complain and be glad for all the lessons that your suffering is teaching you and…what a load of bullshit!  All I need to do is look around at nature to see that the Creator made everything to work in balance so that all might thrive!  We’re the ones who screw it up and cause suffering!

Little green things are poking up above the earth in my garden; perennials planted there once upon a time.  Year after year, they return, like beliefs that I adopted long ago that call forth the same responses from me, time and again.  I am digging them up and moving them somewhere else…some even to the compost heap.  I am re-creating my entire garden.  I am disgarding the Brules I’ve lived by and creating enhanced, healthier, happier models and systems for living my life–my one, wild and precious life.

I embrace this work with joy, considering it a privilege; procrastination and stagnation give way to productivity.  I get to dig about in my newly awakened garden!  I get to create something new!  I get to grow my garden into a work of art and I get to receive from it an abundant harvest.  As my inner and my outer gardens have become labors of love and gratitude, every stage has become rewarding. The garden thrives and I thrive and all who experience the blessing of it, thrive.

Once there was a woman jogging down my street.  She looked unhappy, angry, tense.  As she ran past my little front yard garden the sound of water falling into the rock pond must have caught her attention for without breaking stride she glanced over, and her face relaxed into a wide smile.  She never noticed me sitting on my porch, only the flowers.  As I watched her continue down the block, I noticed her head was higher, her shoulders back. 

How much greater might the impact of my inner garden be on those who pass through my sphere of influence?  I will not limit myself.  I will not allow the weedy beliefs of “can’t” nor the fears of what it might “cost” me to choke out the life of the Creator within me.  I’m cultivating joy and gratitude–like the daffodils and lilies and roses that I love.  I’m nurturing and growing the gifts I brought to this world so that I can share them–my writing, my art, my ability to teach; like green beans and ripened tomatoes and summer squash and apples in autumn.  I’m practicing kindness–random acts of…they are herbs to season life.  

I found a penny on the sidewalk today.  “Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck!”  Ahh, yes.  In the middle of my Garden of Abundance I plant a Money Tree so that I will no longer be limited by the lack of money.  I am rebuilding my model of what it means to live abundantly, without lack, creating a life in which I am thriving.    

CHANGE YOUR FREQUENCY, CHANGE YOUR REALITY

March 12, 2014

A GRUMPY CATERPILLAR GETS HER WINGS

I listened to an interesting presentation this morning about why we find ourselves “stuck” perpetuating situations that we don’t like, don’t want, and sometimes have even worked very hard to change. For every step forward, there seems to be at least a half-step slide back; sometimes a full scale tumble back to the bottom. 

The other morning I found myself spouting self-criticisms at myself and accusations at my partner that I thought were dead, buried and decomposed.  But here they were, back from the dead, maybe not exactly in kick-ass form, but definitely alive in a mouldery sort of way. 

“Where the hell did that come from?  Do I really believe what I’m thinking and saying and feeling,” I thought?

I went for a long walk in the sunshiny, melty day…the warmest day we’ve had since sometime before Thanksgiving.  First I told Jack to cool his jets.  He’s a Tiger.  He’s the form my Ego has taken in order for my story-oriented brain to be able to wrap itself around the existential questions and concepts I find so fascinating.  Jack haruffed about a bit, then curled up in a corner, apparently asleep.  Except I don’t think Tigers ever really sleep.

My mind clearer, I did something radically different than I usually do when my heart feels full of lead and the lump in my throat is damming up my tears.  I gave thanks.  I gave thanks for the difficult day and my heavy heart and for the morning’s difficult conversation and all the unanswered questions and all my disappointed desires.  I figured there was a lesson in here somewhere and that maybe paying attention and opening up to the lesson with gratitude would make a difference.

By the time I arrived back home after wading through the woods where a large herd of deer make their home, I could sense that something was coming into focus.  My heart still felt heavy and tired, but I reminded myself that it would pass and I would understand things better later.  With that I sat down and finished a script and then went and met a friend.  Later I worked on the script notes and finished up my day with a conference call.  By bedtime I was too tired to think much about what I felt like.

The next morning the sun leapt up and commenced his climb to the top of the sky.  The night seemed to have dissolved my troubles; I too felt like climbing to the top of the sky.  Looking back now I realize that my difficult day was evidence that my very intention to become kinder, softer, happier and more connected with my partner had dislodged more of the debris that is in the way.  It had indeed not been a day of sliding back into old patterns, but a day of undoing old patterns.  The fine line between was crossed when I sent Jack the Great Defender to the corner and opened myself to understanding and gave thanks. 

The presentation this morning was by Christie Marie Sheldon on How To Change Your Frequency To Change Your Reality.  She talked about what happens in our energy field when we get stuck in a negative pattern–whether that is in relationships, our health, our economic experiences or just our ‘dumb luck’.  What happens is that our cycle of thought-creating beliefs perpetuate the vibrational frequency that we emit into the space around us.  Because like attracts like, we draw to ourselves more of whatever we are thinking, focused upon, speaking, and most especially, the vibrational frequency we are emitting as a result.  We can guess well what this frequency is by our emotional state, as well as our knee-jerk trigger reactions in certain situations. 

The Map (or Scale) of Consciousness is a numerical scale whereby one can measure positive from negative, power from force and truth from falsehood. Dr. Hawkins believes that every word, every thought, and every intention creates what is called a morphogenetic field, or attractor field, and that these energy fields can be measured through the process of Applied Kinesiology.  The research was scientifically-validated and published in Dr. Hawkins’ doctorate dissertation titled Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis and Calibrations of the Level of Human Consciousness.  His book, Power vs. Force (Revised Edition): The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior (Hay House, 2012) explained how world leaders throughout history led based on what level they were at on the Map of Consciousness. Lower levels like fear, lead the world into chaos. 

Briefly, each level of consciousness (LOC) coincides with determinable human behaviors and perceptions about life. Each level represents a corresponding attractor field of varying strength that exists beyond our three-dimensional reality. There’s a critical point within each LOC from which its field gravitates (or entrains). The numbers on the scale represent logarithmic calibrations (measurable vibratory frequencies on a scale which increases to the tenth power) of the levels of human consciousness and its corresponding level of reality. The numbers themselves are arbitrary; the significance lies in the relationship of one number (or level) to another (e.g., Dr. Hawkins’ scale is from 1 to 1000).
As I listened to Ms. Sheldon’s presentation, I reflected again on the incident the other day.  I can see the pattern, if a bit faded.  The grooves in my psyche are deep and like ruts in a road, if I allow the tire to slip in, it’s pretty certain I will once again be bumping down the road in that tiresome old rut.  Shame, guilt, fear–my old companions.  Bottom of the damn scale!  Ms. Sheldon made the comment that of the people she works with, those who take the longest to clear old frequencies and shift their energy to higher frequencies are those whose thought patterns have been entrenched–entrained–with the corresponding frequencies of shame and guilt.  

MAP OF THE SCALE OF CONSCIOUSNESS


God-view     Self-view        Level                  Log                Emotion         Process
Self                   Is            Enlightenment       700 – 1,000   Ineffable           Pure Consciousness
All-being     Perfect           Peace                     600               Bliss                  Illumination
One           Complete          Joy                         540               Serenity            Transfiguration
Loving       Benign             Love                       500               Reverence         Revelation
Wise          Meaningful      Reason                   400               Understanding   Abstraction
Merciful     Harmonious    Acceptance            350               Forgiveness       Transcendence
Inspiring    Hopeful           Willingness            310               Optimism           Intention
Enabling    Satisfactory     Neutrality              250                Trust                  Release
Permitting  Feasible          Courage                 200                Affirmation        Empowerment
LEVELS OF TRUTH

LEVELS OF FALSEHOOD
Indifferent    Demanding      Pride                    175               Scorn                  Inflation
Vengeful     Antagonistic      Anger                   150               Hate                   Aggression
Denying      Disappointing    Desire                   125              Craving              Enslavement
Punitive       Frightening        Fear                     100              Anxiety              Withdrawal
Uncaring     Tragic                 Grief                      75              Regret                Despondency
Condem-     Hopeless             Apathy, hatred     50              Despair              Abdication
ning
Vindictive     Evil                   Guilt                      30              Blame                Destruction
Despising    Hateful               Shame                    20              Humiliation       Elimination

 
It has been a long road.  It has taken me a long time to clear the old frequencies of shame and guilt, grief, fear.  In reading further about Dr. Hawkins work, (I’m going to get his book!) I read what I already suspected: few of us are static in one place on this scale.  We operate at different levels based on our past experiences and operative beliefs about those experiences.  I can see that because of the work I have done to shift my thinking, my beliefs and consequently my attitudes, I have crossed that threshold into courage and willingness and acceptance.  Sometimes I even operate for a few minutes up in those wonderful levels that radiate love and joy.  But I am aware of the drag on my progress and certain situations can send me into a free-fall down into the dark depths again of shame, guilt, and fear

I am blessed to have a chiropractor who practices Applied Kinesiology and has done emotional clearings with me related to these low vibrational frequencies.  I have been blessed to have been allowed so many amazing experiences in my life that have helped me re-create my life while slowly learning what it means to shift how I think, what I think, how I view mySelf and this world and the greater Universe–how I view this Holy Presence, this Creator, this Source that I have called “God”. 

I am very, very grateful for the many lessons I have been allowed, the Grace that has buffered me, the Love that has held me even when I had no idea I was being held, no idea that I was loved.  During my life as a grumpy caterpillar all I could see was the muddy ground and all I could do was keep crawling along looking for “food”.  I gazed enviously at the beautiful winged creatures, wishing I could do what they did, wishing I could fly away.  Then came the season when I got shut up inside a funky space in my life and all I knew dissolved into a smelly soup.  Then one morning as the sun climbed to the top of the sky my closed up little world split open top to bottom spilling me out.  For a long pause I clung to the branch on which I found myself–something about it was familiar.  But I have come to understand just enough that now there is nothing for it but to spread my wings–my glorious butterfly wings, and take to the skies! I have this song running through my head…I wish I could sing it for you…”Oh joy, oh joy
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh joy; I thought love was blind, I opened my eyes, now it’s all that I see. My tears are washed clean from all I’ve been through in that holy stream, the beautiful stream of the joy that is you…”  The Joy That Is You

The secret I have learned is that although we may think we are stuck, we aren’t.  We are never stuck.  As long as we draw breath in this body we are called to journey upwards to living lives from the heart, lives of courage and humility, of gratitude and forgiveness,  of love and of joy.  We are called to pilgrimage, to leave the comfort zones of the illusions we’ve bought and sold, to become the hero of our own story and experience transformation from frogs to kings–from paupers to princes–from grumpy caterpillars to beautiful fairy butterflies. 

ADVENTURES IN NEW YORK CITY IX

February 25, 2014

ADVENTURES IN NEW YORK CITY

The Boy In The Subway

The boy is sitting at the end of the subway car.  He wears a coat with a ragged hem, a dirty knit cap and a sign: Down on my luck Please Help.  He carries a banged up drink cup in which a few coins clink.  No gloves.  It is 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stepping into the late night train, my friends and I grab hold of the center pole between the doors.  I set my 45-pound pack on the floor at my feet, groaning, flexing my shoulders.  My friend chats with the man from the show we’ve just seen.  We are flushed with a good time, sweet drinks, good food, and a brisk walk.

As the train jerks into motion, the boy stands up and ghosts through the car—hoping.  I keep my eyes on my friend.  I think she is talking about a scene from the show.  Or maybe where she lives in Queens, a lovely two-bedroom apartment full of light and comfort.  I want to give something to the boy; to look into his tired face and into his dull, brown eyes and say, “Hello;” effectively saying—“I see you.  You exist.  I honor the light in you as another human like myself.”

Maybe he hears my thoughts.  I look steadily into the face of the man from the show and answer his question as the boy pauses at the end of the car.  And then I feel him ghosting back through the car, passing behind me, brushing softly against my clean, bright blue North Face jacket.

I slide my eyes to the side and watch him slump back into his seat at the end of the car.  He sighs.  His hands scrub his face and then hold his head up as his elbows come to rest against his knees poking through his torn, crusty jeans.

I can feel the single dollar bills burning in my pocket. My heart jumps about like my dog when she wants to go for a walk.

The advice I’ve been given from my New York friends replays in my head:

“Just ignore them.  So many of them are just scamming…”

But, how do we tell the difference?

“I work hard for my money.  They don’t choose to.  That’s their choice. There’re plenty of jobs in this city.  They could get one if they wanted to.”  “But, maybe they haven’t the skills, or the opportunities, or the strength or the courage or the know-how to navigate this crazy system like we do?

“You have to be careful.  I mean, every day you run into these people—you get used to it.  You can’t help them all.”  But surely, we could acknowledge them?  Or we could give some change to a few every day, the change from dropping dollars into the cashier’s hand at the lunch counter? 

The presence of these dirty, raggedy, brothers and sisters of ours dredge up shame in us…robbing us of the pleasure of our blessings—accusatory as we gather our comfort and privilege like a walled fortress around us.

I brightly engage in the conversation with my friends, hearing not a word I will recall.  The boy, I will remember.  I leave the train without a backward glance while tears burn behind my eyes.