Latest Entries »


>

A boat that glides through the water creates a soft, rolling wave. As a kid, we used to swim off Sanders Beach in my home town and hope for those kind of waves, especially if we were on floating rafts. The wave would saunter into shore, rocking us to and fro while the sun beat down on our youthful bodies. It was like being rocked by Mother Earth. Then there are the wakes created when a boat moves at high speeds through the water. Those waves are high and choppy and exhilarating. It’s not so much the waves are risky, it’s the speed of the boat. I thought about this analogy when a very dear friend of mine shared the turmoil of her cousins whose mother is dying 3000 miles away from their homes. A life of choosing “high-speed fun” over a more thoughtful gentle ride created a destructive and painfully difficult wake in the mother’s path. Her children are trying in vain to cope as she sits at death’s door. 

My inspirations come to me in pictures like “wakes” and caused me to reflect on the kind of wake I’d like to leave when I exit this life. I do not want to live my life in such a way as to leave a choppy slapping wave behind me. I want a gentle rocking and rolling wake at my wake. Being human is such a messy job and few if any do everything well. I don’t know how to escape being human but I can stop long enough to reflect on how my actions will be held in the hearts of my family, friends and acquaintances.

Today most memorials are celebrations of life. I like that idea. I like the idea that while I have lived an imperfect life that in the end even my imperfect actions may be interpreted as effort on my part to do the right thing or make the wrong thing as right as possible. Sometimes we cry for the loss of a loved one; other times we cry for what was lost in the life we shared with that person. A very dear friend of mine suggested that we all die as we have lived and that makes so much sense to me. I want to be be honest when I ask myself that question. Life is a two-sided coin and, as I always say, cannot be cut to one side. I just hope that my coin has value for those I love. I no longer seek an impossible perfection; I pray that those I love will come to understand my intent. Finally, I am hopeful that my “wake” will always leave comfort from my well-meaning heart.


The Voice of Bozo

All of us, at one time or another have walked out of the bathroom, dragging a piece of toilet paper on our shoe unknowingly! I mean this literally and/or metaphorically. Who would do that on purpose, right? I had the delight of having our children with me this past week and whenever we get together we often laugh about those times that we unknowingly play the part of the bozo. It’s the walking and chewing gum at the same time dilemma we occasionally all stumble over. There are so many ways to react to the times when we embarrass ourselves but I have come to believe the optimum response is laughter. Making fun of your personal faux pas can be empowering or shameful, depending upon how you see them.

Years ago, when I was in the throes of a major life change at the age of 22 (I was deciding whether or not to become a single mom) I wrote a poem about the need to be bleached. As I work and spiritually counsel others, I suggest to them that life is messy. By way of religious training or societal or parental demands for perfection we end up being uncomfortable with our imperfections, even embarrassed or shamed by them. To stay perfect and bleached, I hugged my authentic self to me and refused the let the bozo out of the bag. But, unknowingly, the bozo was not IN the bag but prancing around me and completely out in the open. That personal bozo of mine was holding up two fingers behind my head while the rest of the world was taking my picture!

I believe that I have come to this place that while I do not want to embarrass myself or do something stupid for the world to see, I also know that I am only human. Flawed in all my Divine perfection, I have come to love my personal bozo. She is delightful and tickles my funny bone and makes me laugh and feel at ease with my messy life. Without laughter, without permission to be imperfect, we shrink. And like the vacuum seal bags that we can put blankets in so they will fit under our beds, we end up trying to “fit” and we take the air out of our life. It might be a good exercise for all of us to pull out that oxygen deprived bag and laugh at our crazy, insane, flawed, and messy life. Therein lie the riches we all seek.

>The Voice of Coca Cola


>

In 1971, Coca Cola released a commercial that lit up the world. Part of the lyrics “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” (produced by Billy Davis and sung by the “New Seekers”) was such a big hit that eventually coke waived royalties to the song and it became a No. 1 hit on charts around the world. The theme of the song (for those too young to remember) was one of multicultural unity with hundreds of children singing on a hilltop. It was a sign of hope for peace and respect for people of all ages, skin color, gender, religious orientation…it was a call for unity.

Today we live in a world that is unsettled but I feel is also in the middle of a new birth. I am old enough to remember the days of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall and what an amazing event it became when those walls crumbled and people were given their voice. We are watching that now, in the Middle East, as people are seeking the Divine human right to have a say over their lives. I think each of us, regardless of circumstance, always have a say over our own lives. It begins with our own story and how we interpret our own story. But more importantly, using the Coke song as inspiration, the human spirit is strong and resilient and longs to sing in harmony with everyone else. Even those who would limit the scope of human freedoms seek the same expression when they join cults, gangs, or terrorist groups. The trick with us humans is that the notes of my song are not imposed upon the notes of your song…and together the notes create harmony.

You listen when I share an idea with you and I listen as you share an idea with me and each idea takes us deeper and closer to the Truth of what all Saints and Masters have directed us toward. It is the inner light of Divinity that is ours to claim and when I claim that I can know that your inner light is also waiting a window to light the path for life as we all struggle through the dark forest together. The resilience of the human spirit is strong and viable. It calls to us, begs us, whispers to us, yells at us, to pay attention. If I can be all I am meant to be then I am far less concerned with making you who I think you should be. “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony, I would like to hold it in my arms and keep it company.” I don’t think that this is an idealistic dream; it is the stuff that living peacefully is made of .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlR0KElxxVg


>

Over the years I have spent a lot of time coming to terms with some of the events of my childhood. I don’t think I am all that different than many from my generation in that respect. There were so many parts to my early life that formed me. Somewhere along the pathway, I took some of those parts and made them my identity. Some of those parts were like a sore thumb and like a sore thumb, I continually bumped it up against something that reminded me I was broken. On the other hand, some of the parts I called my own were woven from love and compassion and moved me into deeper contemplation about life. What I have come to is that I am not a sum total of the parts but am, if I am willing to emotionally surrender the “whys” of what happened, more. I am assured by great spiritual masters that if I do this I will find a greater part of myself. The Divine part of myself.

The hardest part of all this is owning my own piece in the events of my life. I started my adult life quite early. I was 17 years old when I stepped out into adulthood. I was wholly unskilled for the adult life I faced. As I have matured, I have realized that some of the parts of my life had become a concrete shell I had shaped around myself, mostly my heart. It was all done in the name of protection; but it separated me from my piece. Too ashamed to look at my imperfections, I was like a puzzle that had not been put back together. I know now that I was not only carrying my piece, but the pieces of my family that may have been passed on from generation to generation. Whether it was a thousand years, or only fifty, it didn’t matter. That influence was the “piece” that I needed to embrace so I could own my piece in the areas of my life that didn’t work.

Having been a parent for 38 years of my 57, I am more conscious now than ever before of how my legacy was formed and how I have passed it on. The one legacy I am unwilling to let go of and feel so blessed to call my own is my deep and ever evolving sense of what love really means. As I stood today, reflecting on the things I would like to have a “do over” on I heard this silent whisper, spoken with great love and compassion:  until you can own your piece, you will never own your Peace. Later, in the inspirational reading I do each day a message from 2500 years ago met my heart. Lao Tzu shared: “To let knowledge produce troubles, and then use knowledge to prepare against them, is like stirring water in hopes of making it clear.” It takes new perspective to own my piece so I can own my Peace. Somewhere in that formula I tasted the sweet honey of compassion, and waiting there were my relatives. As I share it with you today, I am also reminded: Just breathe…


>

There is a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to review, rewind, rewrite, release, and renew. Today marks the Christian tradition of Lent. While there are many of us who have stepped off the paved road of our religious training and are exploring the well-trodden but dirt path of other spiritual masters, we are each blessed with the traditions of established faith. Each religion offers to us something of the deep sacred in the traditions of old. Many of them were inspired by deeply devoted, spiritually aware humans. Whether we call those humans God, saints, or simply enlightened individuals, each of these Masters, in their own way, cleared a part of the tangled jungle of everyday life so we might each travel our own Spiritual path. Lenten Season is purposeful and beautiful when understood in that light.

The purpose behind the ceremony of Lent is not necessarily to isolate ourselves from something we enjoy but rather, it is a time to make a commitment to our own lives. I know that I have been burdened in my own life with things from my past that have prevented me from embracing the sacredness of each day. To take a time, especially a time when many people pray and fast together, is to let go of that which limits or lives. There is a power in that practice. To step away from any spiritual tradition because we have become disillusioned with the dogma of that religion is sometimes equivalent to throwing the baby out with the bathwater! The practice of Lent, of letting go of our past or of some personally harmful behavior, is healing not only to us but to the world.

It is no mistake that Lent coincides with the transition from Winter that is dormant into the Spring that is sparked with new life. The seedling lying deep within the soil, cannot reach for the warmth of the sun in the darkness and cold of the Winter. Let Lent be your time to discover this equinoctial process within your own soul. Be willing to shed light upon the personal darkness of misunderstanding, fear, regret or anger; be willing to say no to the things that harm you or others…even if it is simply to give up criticism. I long to be renewed and find new energy and life within me so that I cannot simply live my life, but so my life can live me. I wish the same for everyone.

>The Voice of Me


>

Socrates is quoted as having said “Know Thyself.” I am unsure how many of us truly know the complexity of ourselves. Having been conditioned to underestimate the value of listening, our own voice (that Soul voice deep within us) is rarely heard amid the din of all the things that circulate in our lives: work, relationships, goals, worries, desires, etc, etc, etc. The list can go on as long as there is day and night, which is pretty endless. But to truly know ourselves it takes courage and patience and honesty. Too often the voice that keeps speaking to us, telling us about the “me” inside our skin, is ignored.

Sometimes that voice is shrouded in guilt or shame; sometimes the voice of “me” is muffled in the sounds of “should” and “have to”; other times it is simply ignored. Then there are the times when everything becomes “about me” to the degree that we have so over-personalized a situation that we have lost our ability to perceive, realistically, what is happening and we leave the rest of the world out. That happened to me when we lost our mother. I simply did not believe that anyone else understood MY pain. My voice of “me” became a victim of loss and it took me years to realize I was at some level diminishing her life by making it only my loss. It was dark and lonely where I found myself. When I started listening to the authentic “me” that was trying valiantly to be heard I began to heal.

The real voice of “me” is connected to something far greater than myself; it is not small but it is eternal and enlightening if I am willing to listen. I think that I have mistaken the idea of “enlightenment” over the years to be something out of my reach. I don’t know if I exactly thought that I should one day wake up with an ability to walk across our swimming pool or not! All I know is that I set my expectations for myself so high they could never be reached. That kind of understanding gave me an excuse to stay small and in the darkness of my own limited perceptions. In fact, I argued vehemently for my own limitations. It was far easier to accept I was less than my version of “enlightened” than it was to take a good long hard look at my inner world. Now, enlightenment has become more user friendly. Each time I have a breakthrough or an “ah-ha” moment, I find a little more light within myself. By letting go of my own limiting perceptions, I find a little more space within myself to be a little more enlightened, with less ego telling me who I should be. “Me” and my voice are getting along a lot better these days!


>

We live in a world full of mirrors. A friend of mine and I were recently discussing a difficult relationship he has been in for a very long time. He didn’t understand why it was so hard. I simply commented to him that his wife was a perfect mirror for him. I don’t think he particularly liked what I said, but it is true. I have known them for a long time. I first heard this idea many years ago from a spiritual teacher and I didn’t like hearing it at the time either. We all love the Nordstroms mirror…you know that one…it makes us look GOOD in a new outfit, even flawless. We all love our Nordstrom mirror-friends. But give us a mirror out of a traveling carnival…you know the ones…the ones that are all distorted, and we don’t like those mirror friends who reflect back our flaws, maybe even bring us pain. Not fun.

When I first began doing seriously self-reflective work I felt ashamed at what I perceived as flaws in my being. Being much wiser and older now, I have come to appreciate the friends who show me what is holding me back from my life. They did not show up to torment me. Just the opposite, they came into my life because a part of me, a soulful part of me, wanted more from myself and my from the life I was valiantly trying to live. I had no ability or chance to change my perceptions until I could see what perceptions needed changing. My distorted mirror friends gifted me with insight even though the reality of what I saw at times was not only embarrassing but painful. But heh…surgery is painful. So is childbirth! Living life sometimes feels like one or both of these!

The trick is not letting that distorted mirror trick you into believing you are the distortion. Looking into those mirrors is like walking through the “fun house” of mirrors that traveling carnivals sport. The fun house is darkened and complex, weaving you through a maze of false images. The difference between the fun house and real life is that the fun house eventually leads to an exit. When we leave that building, we know we are not the distorted images we saw. When we feel the sun shining on our face, we know we are alive, vital human beings that can vibrantly love, be courageous in the face of life’s changes and challenges, can achieve whatever our heart’s long for. The trick is not staying in the “fun house” which…in the end…is no fun at all.


>

I don’t know about everyone else, but some days my “do” list is too long for my liking. Those “dos” become “do-do” and push me up against my day in a frantic and anxious way. It often feels like I am trying to walk through a snow storm with the wind in my face…uphill. Sometimes I add “dos” to my list, or my plate, for all the wrong reasons. I thought I had come out of the storm but the universe hates a vacuum…or I hate the space…and so I am once again trying to re-enter that storm of “do.” At least this time I am slowing down a bit to ask some important questions.

I think there have been times I have been “doing” to distraction. It is almost like if I take too much time to simply be with what is already in front of me, to face what I really want to do, to be with any discomfort I might be feeling…well, it is simply too hard. It is far easier to heap up my plate with other “dos” that do not necessarily benefit me or anyone else for that matter. I simply see that there is so much to be done and somewhere in my over sized ego I think I can do it all! Mother Theresa gave us the best advice when she told us that “Not everyone can do great things but everyone can do small things with great love.” The action called “doing” is meant to bring about the results we want. It should never be a distraction that takes us away from what is important or the life we must face (must be present with) if we are to live that life well.

Great teachers have encouraged us to be “beings” and not “doings” so that we actually get to taste the sweetness and wholeness of life. Even tragedy and sorrow can, in someways, add to the measure of our days if we are willing to sit with them long enough. I think it is time for me to sit and sort through my “dos.” My intention is to make my life count, to add to the measure of my days and to the days of others…especially my family. So for today, I want to unpack my over-sized baggage of “to dos,” step out of the snow storm and travel a little lighter. I know for certain my in-basket will never be empty and there is always tomorrow!


>

After seeing the movie Bucket List a couple of years ago, I found that I often thought about the things I wanted to do before I died. I don’t know if you have given that idea any consideration, but heading up the bucket list of both my husband and myself was a trip to Europe. Like many things in our personal lives, it is our children who always seem to kick us out of our comfort zones and into action. So when our son found himself working on stage in London we booked our trip! Upon arrival I mentioned to him that I didn’t want to look like a tourist and embarrass any of us, especially myself! His response was one of the most freeing things he has ever said to me. “But mom, he said, “you ARE a tourist. If you can accept that then its all okay!”

It was a humbling acceptance to freely acknowledge that I was a tourist! It occurred to me that life, generally, is a trip we are all taking. Too often, if we live our lives at all, we find ourselves in the middle of a foreign experience…whether it is an idea, a new job, a relationship…you get the idea!! I struggled to stay in my comfort zones because I was afraid of looking like a complete dope!!I found I was truly freed up once I accepted the fact that I simply did not know anything about traveling abroad. Fortunately, we were in a country that spoke the same language. But, we were nonetheless in a different culture, making transactions with different money, and learning the London tube networks (aka subways). What I have discovered is that if I simply admit to the unknown with child-like naivete then most people are very kind and gracious with my learning curve.It is when I blow the bad breath of false bravado that I meet resistance. Any misled assumption that false bravado brings, in the end, is far more embarrassing than admitting that I am a little lost and uncertain.

Our trip to London taught me a wonderful lesson about my own uncertainties in this vacation life I am on. Sometimes it seems like a working vacation, other times a fun vacation. There have been times I have been in the middle of a personal nightmare as well. As I look back and reflect on those times that were nightmarish, I have to consider the fact that most of my pain came from my fear of making a mistake. Had I been wise enough to acknowledge my uncertainty then I might have made fewer mistakes and better decisions. Our trip to London brought me to a definite conclusion. I am deciding to take myself and my life a little less seriously, knowing that not even the most brilliant minds on the planet know their way ALL of the time! We are, after all is said and done, tourists on this this blue green emerald planet we call home. 


>

The heart has reasons that reasons cannot know or so says Blaise Pascal. What are your thoughts about love and Valentines Day? Love has so many different voices, so many different accents, that it is hard to imagine that any two are the same. I believe this is so because each of us as individuals are unique and strangers to the world of another. I cannot really know what love means to you any more than you can know for me. We are told that love is patient, and kind, and pliable. Poets have spent their entire lives writing of love; authors have built entire stories, sometimes epic, trying to describe something that has no descriptor.

As a young woman seeking to find my soul mate, my great love, I was truly lost. The ghosts of my Valentines past, my naivete, my idealism, kept me doubting and fearful. Combine that with my life experiences from watching people I love be tormented in love, not to mention my own failings at it, left me frozen with fear that my soul mate would never arrive at my doorstep. So when my mentor and friend suggested I needed to make a list of who and what I thought that person was, what I wanted love to look like with that person, it made sense. Then he gave me the really hard job. Once done he told me to become that list.

As a mature adult, with children and now grandchildren, I only know what I feel. Sometimes when I look at my husband, my children or my grandchildren I find myself diving into a deeper pool of love that almost takes my breath away. But if I have learned anything about love, for me, I have learned I am only really loving when I am in the state of love. And I know I am in this state when I am patient, compassionate, kind, thoughtful, listening to the words of another instead of overlaying my own thoughts and ideas onto them. I know I am in the state of love when I find myself in more innocuous situations like when I drive with more courtesy or give up my place in a grocery line to someone else who has fewer items. When I am in this state, I know I have left the ghosts of Valentine Past behind me. That any opinion I have garnered from my own mistaken perception of love is useless in my life if I am to love at all.

There was a time when I had the fortunate and blessed opportunity to have a very wonderful man sing me love songs. So I close with one of his best sung songs…I wish you shelter from a storm, a cozy fire to keep you warm, I wish you health, but more than wealth, I wish you love. I invite you to shut the door on yesterday and open the present … there is a wonderful gift waiting for you. Happy Valentines Day.