Category Archives: Spiritual Journey

You Are Enough!

When we are enough so is the world around us

When we are enough so is the world around us

I have been blessed with enough, there is no doubt about it. Not necessarily abundance, more than I can imagine, but as much as I need. Yet I have my moments where fear takes over and it almost always starts with a focus on not enough. I am not thin enough, I am not smart enough, I am not strong enough, I am not good enough. Do those mantras sound familiar to you? Maybe these sound more familiar; I don’t have enough time, I didn’t get enough sleep, I don’t have enough money, not enough, not enough, not enough or better yet what about everyone around you? They don’t have enough integrity, they don’t have enough compassion, they don’t have enough intelligence, they don’t have enough capacity to care, etc…..

I am reading Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly and the focus of her book is the power and courage of vulnerability and in that discussion she talks about the epidemic of scarcity in our society. Brené even refers to another book, which is one of my all time favorites, The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, where Twist states scarcity is the “great lie” in our modern society. I mean seriously most of us have more possessions than our ancestors could have possibly imagined and yet I am pretty sure we focus more on scarcity than they ever did.

I have noticed a considerable shift in our society, where our language  focuses on scarcity. I am not sure if I am noticing this shift because I am being more present or if the incidence of scarcity based thinking is increasing. I am not sharing these observations to instill shame that only exacerbates the issue, it’s merely a means to bring about awareness. I notice when I focus on scarcity things start feeling out of control. However, when I focus on my needs being met, gratefulness or service to others, I feel whole and in harmony.

I have also noticed we all like to focus on what others or we could have done better. We like to compare ourselves to some benchmark, then comes the shame because we are not measuring up. I see this in relationships, in work environments, and in school.

Brené talks about coming from a place of worthiness, and to own our vulnerabilities. We as a society view vulnerability as a weakness rather than courageous. I know, based on my own experience, people who tend to have low self-esteem or do not feel worthy are the most difficult people to be vulnerable with, because of their own acute discomfort with vulnerability. I have over the years slowly been attracted to people who have this strong sense of worthiness. It has been a very powerful shift, I have noticed my ability to be vulnerable increasing because those who exhibit worthiness or wholeheartedness do not have fear based reactions to my vulnerability and I in turn become more open to theirs.

It is a difficult path to navigate when your vulnerability is met with fear, anxiety and shame. I have been there, many times. I have reacted with fear, anxiety and shame with others when they are being vulnerable with me. I know by surrounding myself with people who are brave enough to be vulnerable and brave enough to experience my vulnerability, the more courage I gain and the more comfortable I am with other’s vulnerability. Our reward is authenticity. Ahhh authentic relationships they are like a breath of fresh air on a cool morning at the beach, a little bite and a lot of comfort.

Our political system is based on preying on our fear of scarcity and the complete lack of authenticity. If we support candidate x or issue y it will result in lack of freedom, lack of money, lack of safety, lack of protection, lack of “fill in the blank.” We are so programmed to respond from a place of scarcity and fear and to view ourselves and the world around as “not enough.”

So what is the alternative? Enough, understanding we are enough. What is enough? What does that look like? What do we need to be enough, have enough? It is accepting the present you, the present moment,  and understanding both are meeting your needs. Vulnerability is the key to accepting you are enough right here, right now. As Brené Brown points out in her book, when you are vulnerable you have the courage to show up and be seen as you are. Vulnerability is ultimately about trust, to be trusted and to trust. So dear reader trust me, you are enough just as you are.

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough. ~ Lao Tzu

Completion

It always feels good when the job's complete!

It always feels good when the job’s complete!

I am great at starting things, in fact many of my friends and family have asked me to help them with business plans, project plans, house plans anything related to planning or start-up. I have a great passion for the genesis of almost anything.

It truly is hardwired within me. And it is not just projects, it’s true with people too. When I meet someone I am always interested in how they got to be where they are; philosophically, spiritually, geographically, any of the ally’s. There are people who are passionate to tell their story and I should always be paired with them because I am passionate about hearing their story. There are members of our family that are sick and tired of hearing the same old stories from aunts and uncles, I honestly never tire of it. I can’t explain why I just love to hear how they started out, their beginnings.

Contrary to my provenance loving side, I have come to understand through much self introspection, suffering, tears and sleeplessness nights, that I struggle with completion. I am not even sure what completion really means because to me everything is always a process, each moment a new beginning. However, if I am chained to the idea that I am in a repeating cycle and there is no genesis occurring, no new beginning, no new discovery I feel the need to, well honestly, get the hell out of there, so to speak.

So that brings me to the issue that sparked this stream of consciousness, the book I am writing. In the beginning my keyboard was smoking; I could not type the words as fast as my mind was “speaking” them. Eventually, the keyboard sat there forsaken and each time I approached it I looked like a member of a chain gang being forced to break rock with a sledgehammer.

My book is about the process I went through during a series of personal losses most profoundly the death of my father. Several people referred to that period of my life as the “shitstorm”. However, what I have come to realize is the parts of the book where I focused on everyone else; my dad, my uncle, my brother, those were the easiest to write. However, the remaining chapters actually go right to the intent, the purpose of my book, how I navigated these turbulent waters and came out of it albeit cut up, bruised and knocked around but stronger. The back story to me is very important, obviously, but now that I have to get to the essence of the story I am struggling. Why? I guess because now it’s about me, just a woman and her thoughts, as they say.

Please don’t misunderstand I am not this holier than thou person, I can be as self-serving as the next gal, just ask my husband! It’s really about looking outside, it is so much easier than looking inside. That’s why gossip is so engaging let’s talk about everybody else’s faults, but please let’s not talk about mine. It’s interesting I just went through a relationship where it absolutely drove me crazy, I perceived this person as disconnected from their own spirit. Let me make this clear, this is my perception, my reality, nothing more. However, I realize the discomfort I felt in that relationship is because the behavior I perceived is that which I was most uncomfortable with myself.

When I type those words, the words that describe the real feelings and breakthroughs I experienced as I emerged from the shitstorm, I am fully exposed. I have been there before, during the darkest days of the shitstorm I was fully exposed, I felt stripped naked and exposed to the world. The level of vulnerability was so heightened I can actually feel my toes tingling right now, as if I am on the edge of a 100-story building looking down. So I have to put myself back in that very tender place to complete this book. It’s one thing to wander in there unaware, it’s another to trudge back fully aware. As the saying goes I am pulling up my big girl pants, I am going in! There is work to be done and I will complete this book.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. ~ Buddha

My Momma

ImageHappy mother’s day mom. Thank you for bringing me into this world. Thank you for my self-esteem, you always believed in me, thank you for my creativity, not only did we live outside the box, I did not know a box existed. Thank you for your unconditional love, I have grown into a loving person.

Mom I had no idea how many years we would have together, but I truly thought we would have more. I was in the infancy of my own motherhood when you died. It’s been a challenge since you left, I had so much more to learn especially about raising my own kids. I have managed to create a great circle of amazing women since you left, they help fill in the gaps but none will ever replace you.

I remember one of the last times we spoke on the phone you told me you were worried that my youngest would not know you because we lived so far away and you had only seen him a couple of times, I dismissed your concern, of course he would know you. Then you died shortly after that, he was only 3. Both my kids have no real memory of you, only pictures and stories I share. It breaks my heart when I struggle to keep your memory alive with them knowing this is how they will remember you. I also look back at that conversation and somehow you knew didn’t you mom, you knew at some level your time with us was short. I did not see it, maybe I didn’t want to.

Every time I hear that someone has lost their own mother it re-opens the wound of losing you. I know we had a loving, complicated and sometimes messy relationship, many mothers and daughters do, but I love you mom I always have and always will.

I just wanted you to know how blessed I am that you were my mom. We had a crazy, fun, and wild ride while it lasted. I did not fully appreciate you then but every day I wake up and face my own motherhood experiences I think about you, smile and thank God for you. While my own children may not have a memory of you they are a reflection of you and through them you live on.

I have to say there are women who have given birth yet I hesitate to call them mothers, there are women who have never given birth who are magnificent mothers and there are men who mother. I salute all the great momma’s out there in all shapes, sizes and forms. I also honor the dear ones out there who are carrying on without their momma, some have lost their mom’s to death and some never had a mom or lost their living mom along the way. Please know I am thinking of you on this day.

“Giving birth does not make you a momma, it is the actions you take and the unconditional love you give that earns you the title mother.” Marsia Geldert-Murphey

Awwwwwwkward

Oh yeah I’m sexy and I know it!?!?!?!?

My daughter told me a few weeks ago that I was awkward especially when trying to have a important conversation with her about boys. My little baby has her first boyfriend and yes I probably was awkward because I remember her riding her bike for the first time as if it was last week. I remember when she called me momma, now its MOTHER!?!?!? She can’t possibly have a boyfriend, she’s still my baby. I immediately became defensive the minute she shared her observation.

However, my baby was right it was her perception and regardless of anything else, a person’s perception is their reality. And it was not only her perception but would have been a stranger’s perception, because I found myself in an unfamiliar place. I was unsure of myself as I spoke to her, what do I say, how do I say it, what if I say the wrong thing, what will happen, what is the right or wrong thing to say???? So yes I was awkward, now what.

You see my mom never had “the talk” with me, I had no basis of comparison, no framework to pull from, I was flying blind. My mom probably had the same sense of what in the heck do I say, as I do now. What information I did get, along the lines of the facts of life, was from a movie we watched at Our Lady of Perpetual Help catholic school in fourth grade. Honestly, I did not retain much from that but I do remember being confused and slightly frightened after watching the movie. A lot of the “social education” movies we watched were intended to keep us out of trouble through the use of fear. It was along the lines of Reefer Madness another movie before my time intended to use fear to keep kids out of trouble.

Fear was a great motivator and used abundantly in my youth. I remember when the Exorcist was released and the catholic response was mixed but in my community it was deemed a bad thing and akin to worshipping the devil. At least in my unsophisticated mind thats what I heard. My parents had a copy of the book in our house and my brother and I were so frightened about it we threw it behind the wall unit in our living room and covered it with a blanket, as if that would keep us from going to hell. Ahhhhh the power of fear, ok I digress, let’s get back to awkward.

Since my beautiful daughter tagged me with the awkward moniker I have been doing some reflection unfortunately my ego hitched a ride during this reflection. Many demons were fabricated during this time, one demon told me I could not write I was deluding myself, my writing was awkward. One demon told me my opinion was awkward. It is interesting how quickly I am wiling to give my power away when I get triggered based on a past defense mechanism.

My beautiful girl and her magnificent honesty gave me the opportunity to really look at who I am. Yes at times I am awkward no doubt about it, at times I can be eloquent, and I can also be beautiful and judgmental. That is the whole package of me. Why is it so easy to accept the parts of myself I think are “good” but I cannot get warm and cozy with those sides of myself that I deem “less desirable.” When I look at a rose I see the thorns and it does not take away from the beauty of the whole plant, or when I see a gorgeous but poisonous tree frog it does not affect the magnificence I feel when I see that creature. So why do I give the rose and the frog more compassion than I give myself. It’s so fascinating, isn’t it?

The difference now, I recognize when I am not being compassionate with myself, it may not be much but it is a start. So here’s to my awkward side and my confident side may they reside in relative peace within the whole.

“Awkward interests me, he said. At least when you are feeling awkward you are always thinking. When you are feeling fabulous, for example, rare occurrence that it may be, you stop thinking altogether. Which gets you into all kinds of trouble. Hence, you are for the better off feeling awkward. Just the sound of it on your tongue. Like chewing on screws.”  – Elizabeth Brundage

Can We Disagree with Love?

It's all about love and peace

It’s all about love and peace

I have so many fond memories of growing up in South Dakota, one memory that is still very prominent was our routine of eating supper around my grandma and grandpa’s table and discussing the world’s events. I really enjoyed the healthy debate we would engage in at the table, particularly my grandpa and I. We loved each other dearly and as I began to develop my own thoughts and opinions they were not always in alignment with grandpa’s. So he would challenge my opinions, I loved it, it forced me to really research any issue I believed in or thought I believed in, grandpa could put up a compelling argument and occasionally I could be swayed from my original opinion.

Likewise, I once swayed grandpa’s opinion, I guess you could call it that. While studying Native American Tribal Law there was a particular issue I had really done my homework on and after several days of strong debate grandpa conceded, albeit somewhat begrudgingly. I remember feeling so proud that I could match wits with this man I admired so greatly. I guess it was the same feeling a student of chess feels when they finally beat their mentor in one magical game, only to turn around for weeks and weeks on end afterward never to best them again.

This experience with my grandpa taught me many things that have served me well over the years but the most important lessons were:

1) the confidence to express my opinions and ideas

2) to honor impartiality when fact-finding

3) its ok to disagree with others and for others to disagree with you

4) always maintain your sense of humor

My grandpa and I could vehemently disagree on an issue, engage in a healthy debate and in the end call it a draw. Afterward there was not a single notion of negativity, quite the opposite a great deal of love and respect was borne out of those debates, and high doses of pie a la mode.

That’s why my spirit dips when I see people attacking each other on social media today. It generally starts out with someone expressing an opinion and then someone who does not agree with that opinion sees it and feels the need to tear the person down, not the opinion, but the person. Debate is about the issues, opinions, facts, it’s not supposed to be personal. I was taught to share the facts as I understand them and if after both sides have shared the facts as they know them and we still do not agree, we agree to disagree with love.

I happen to love social media so this is not meant as an indictment of Facebook or Twitter. However, I believe social media is a cautionary tale of progress. We all know it is far easier to hit send than look someone in the eye and recite those same words. People feel safer in the electronic age to abandon all rules of etiquette, which is considered the glue that holds society together. I am seeing more and more signs that we are coming unglued!

Reasonable people are getting into comment wars on Facebook which then degrades into name calling and insults. It’s no surprise people are behaving this way it being modeled extensively in our pop culture and government as well. All of this would make poor Letitia Baldridge’s toes curl, we have US Senator’s calling the president a liar while he’s addressing Congress, we  have reality TV shows like Jersey Shores glamorize impropriety and we have musicians ranting at award shows because they don’t agree with who won. Is this how we want to treat each other? Or better yet is this how we want our kids to be treated or treat others?

What disappoints me more than anything is that we are losing our ability to communicate effectively and fight fair. By fighting fair I mean expressing differing opinions while still treating the other person in a dignified manner. Do we really want to live in a black and white world, with no shades of gray and trust me I am only talking about one shade of gray here not 50, that is for a whole other discussion. Which brings me to my gravest concern, we are losing our creative thought.

So much creative discovery occurs when we dance outside the boundaries in those shades of gray, that’s where the real breakthroughs happen. Many great discoveries came from scientists developing a product for one purpose and it ended up being used for something else. In the black and white world that product would have been discarded to continue to try to find the answer to the original question, rather than changing the question. Play doh was developed originally to clean soot off wallpaper, Viagra was supposed to be a cure for hypertension, Listerine was supposed to be a surgical antiseptic, these and many more accidental discoveries were made possible through creative discovery. Their minds transcended the black and white, even the shades of gray and saw the rainbow of possibilities out there.

I am one of those people who if you send me an email or share a Facebook post I will check the facts, and that goes back to my early days at grandpa’s supper table, one site I like is factcheck.org. One thing checking the facts will do is engage you to form your own opinion and not simply rubber stamp someone else’s opinion as your own.

I have friends and family who are solidly camped on either side of many hot button issues. I can further state that it does not make me love those whose opinion may happen to fall in alignment with mine more than my loved ones whose opinion does not. Again its the opinion we are debating not the person, when we personify these debates and demonize the person who holds the opposing view, that’s where the societal glue falls apart and what do we gain? I’m right, you’re an idiot. Seriously what kind of community can we create from that premise?

So where do we go from here?  We practice peace, love, tolerance, we learn new ways to communicate in healthy ways which breaks the cycle of violent communication. We understand how to express ourselves and our needs without devaluing another person. My good friend Annie Loyd always a shining light here on earth and ready to climb any mountain no matter how high, is taking action toward peaceful communication. Her beautiful manifestation, the Fusion Foundation, is sponsoring a course called  Compassionate Communication, if you are in the Phoenix area I highly recommend this course. If you cannot attend this course I highly recommend the book this course is based on Marshall Rosenberg’s series called Nonviolent Communication, if you allow these teachings to permeate your everyday interactions it will absolutely transform your life and your relationships.

Imagine connecting with the human spirit in each person in any situation at any time. Imagine interacting with others in a way that allows everyone’s need to be equally valued. Imagine creating organizations and life-serving systems responsive to our needs and the needs of our environment. – Marshall Rosenberg

Southern Grown Creole Gratitude

jackson_statue_3_bg_20090719I recently visited New Orleans and felt compelled to share my experience there. Now before you read on I want to warn you, there are NO stories of debauchery or beads, sorry. I went to have fun, who doesn’t expect fun in NOLA, and left feeling marvelous about NOLA’s future.

My husband and I visited NOLA in 1990, pre-Katrina, and had a great time. On we were looking forward to returning to one of our favorite places. We had a little trepidation not knowing what to expect, how much had hurricane Katrina changed the city. I had been to the city for a brief visit right after Katrina for a conference and the schedule did not give us time to explore the city. So this was really the first time I was able to experience the city since our visit in 1990. Wow, has New Orleans not only survived, it is thriving.

This is truly one of the most unusual places in the United States and is the birthplace of Jazz, Cajun and Creole cuisine. The history of this city is fascinating, the food is spicy and delicious, the music is plentiful and good, and as one local put it, most of our street performers would be headline acts in other parts of the country, I couldn’t agree more. The architecture is mesmerizing, each time we walked down a different street we saw these distinct old structures with intriguing features. In many of our towns we have become numb to the structures that surround us in our cookie-cutter world, not in New Orleans, the exciting variety of food, music, and even the architecture keeps your senses heightened.

The real gift of New Orleans, however, are the people. I was deeply moved by the response of the people of NOLA during our recent visit. At least once, but generally more, each and every day while there, we were thanked by the residents for coming to the city. These messages of gratitude were not just coming from the business owners, but also; the neighbors to our B&B, the locals we shared a table with at a crowded Jazz bar, the couple at the Karaoke bar on Bourbon Street, the barista at the coffee shop, the woman greeting us at the WWII museum, almost every server at every restaurant, the list goes on and on. I was very touched by the sincere thankfulness of the people of NOLA. Many told us their friends and neighbors have jobs because more people are visiting again. Each and every time we were thanked for being here, without exception they said please come back and visit our city. I almost wanted to ask if they had all been given a training video it almost seemed rehearsed, but I knew better. They were sincere, not coached, and they were exhibiting their magnificent Cajun/Creole fun-loving hospitality.

I have been blessed to experience many wonderful cultural differences in our beautiful country. In Hawaii they talk about the Aloha spirit, and the best way I can describe it is a feeling of love and respect toward all. In the Native American culture respect and family are both very important. My word for describing New Orleans would be gratitude. And in all the places I have visited I have not experience the main theme of their culture with the dependability, consistency or regularity we experienced in NOLA. I just cannot say enough about our overwhelming feeling of being welcomed, appreciated and encouraged to come back.

What a resilient and grateful culture. It is exactly what I needed to see and experience at this point in my life. I want to practice the wonderful example the people of NOLA set for me, unabashed, honest expression of gratitude. We can choose to see all the things wrong around us and focus on that or alternatively, we can see all that is right around us and be grateful. I believe the only power we possess in this world is our choices, we can empower ourselves through our choices or we can disempower ourselves and others. New Orleans has chosen to empower themselves in a big way. Laissez les bond temps rouler aka let the good times roll.

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. – Kahlil Gibran

Go With The Flow

Just floating along

Just floating along

I was listening to an audio book recently, “Stiring it Up: How to Make Money and Save the World,” by Gary Hirschberg the CEO of Stoneyfield Farms. One thing he said really caught my attention, he likened success in business and life to the principles of Aikido, a Japanese martial art practice. He said, and I am very poorly paraphrasing here, in Aikido you take your opponents energy and rather than resisting it and absorbing it you simply channel it back to them.

I was really intrigued by that comparison so I looked up Aikido, which literally translated means “the way of harmony of the spirit,” it was created so practitioners could defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. I love this! I agree what a marvelous approach to life and business.

Aikido I learned is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. This requires less physical strength, because it uses the attackers momentum, with the intention of not causing injury to the attacker.

I think this resonated with me because I have likened my philosophy of being in this life with floating along in a river. When I am going with the flow my life is in harmony, when I fight against the flow by trying to swim back to where I have been life takes more energy and I struggle.

I really needed to hear this particularly at this point in my life. I am heading into unchartered waters both personally and professionally. The landscape of my life has changed so drastically I hardly recognize it. My husband’s parents and my parents are all deceased most losses occurred in 2011. Professionally, I sold my company and have a one year non-solicitation clause.  As a result I cannot work in my career field for the next year and interaction with people I used to see everyday, and consider friends, is very limited.

Most of the time, while traversing these uncharted waters, I have my feet firmly pointed downstream and easily going with the flow. However, occasionally I feel pulled to look back, when I do I feel resistance and sometimes struggle to keep my head up. It’s interesting how sometimes I convince myself that the past or what I am familiar with is easier. Nevertheless, if I follow the analogy of Aikido or my own philosophy of a river it’s all about flow and going with the energy rather than resisting it. That translates into continuing on my journey rather than living in the past or swimming ahead in pursuit of some future illusion, both will drain my energy and impair my harmony.

My yoga teacher Jan always reminds us to look to nature when life is difficult. Similar to the seed it does not fret where it lands or struggle to sprout, it simply grows effortlessly where it lands. The seed does not worry about what was or what will be it simply grows in the now.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. – Lao-Tzu

Perception

 

Beautiful to many, ugly to some.......it's all in your perception

Beautiful to many, ugly to some…….it’s all in your perception

I have noticed how I perceive the world to be better, kinder, and more compassionate than some of my friends and family. It’s not that I am blind to the fact that bad things happen in this world, some bad things have happened to me and people I know. I think it’s that I don’t expect bad things or look for them, if they happen I experience them and then I continue on my path.

Recently as I was boarding a flight the attendant asked us not to sit in the front row, she was holding it for a disabled passenger that had not arrived yet. I found my way to a window seat a few rows back. A man sat down in the aisle seat of the same row, as he was getting settled in he complained about what good is it to have business select if you can’t pick the best available seat. I felt compassion for this man that he was unable to see that a very slight inconvenience for us would make the world of difference for someone who was wheelchair bound. As they closed the door to the plane the person the front row was saved for never showed up. My neighbor then commented again, slightly more peeved than before, that the supposed person never showed up. I suggested to him that he could surely sit there since the door was closed, he quickly declined. I found it extremely interesting that he was so preoccupied by this situation yet would not take advantage of sitting where he seemed to want to when the opportunity presented.

I let that thought pass as do many fleeting thoughts of observation I experience each day. So I went back to reading the newspaper, once I finished it I placed it in the seat between us, I noticed my new airplane neighbor was looking at it, trying to read it sideways. I said, “please take it I am finished with it”, he was a little apprehensive at first stating something about people not liking other people touching their paper, but he ultimately obliged and read it.

At the end of our flight we heard the usual message to put our seats in the upright position, tray tables locked etc…at that point my new neighbor very awkwardly expressed his gratitude for sharing the newspaper. I was thrilled to see this softening that occurred and silently hoped my small gesture of sharing would help him perceive things differently.

I believe when we perceive things to be a certain way we will look for evidence to support our belief. By that I mean, if you believe the world is full of selfish or vicious people you will unconsciously look for this kind of individual to support your way of thinking. I also believe you will attract this kind of person to you. Some people are uncomfortable with thinking in terms of the energy waves you emit will attract similar energy waves to you, I do happen to believe that, but let’s look at it another way. If you are a snarky or negative person and you see someone who perhaps offers a compassionate explanation of a situation that vexed you, how do you feel about that? Many “negative nelly-like” people will discount the positive person and find someone who will commiserate and agree with them and their negative line of thinking. Have you heard of the saying “misery loves company”?

I see this happening all the time. Does this mean I think every bad thing that happens people have attracted it, no, that is not what I am saying. However, I think we all know people who are consistently steeped in drama, conflict or misery. My husband knew a man who had so many lawsuits going on that his attorney maintained a separate file cabinet just for his cases. Perhaps that is an extreme example but I think you understand who I am talking about.

Albert Einstein is credited with saying something to the effect that we can live our life thinking nothing is a miracle or that everything is a miracle, this is a testament to perception and perception is our choice.

Remember dear readers the choice is yours how you choose to perceive your world, just take your cue from Dr. Suess:

“In my world, everyone’s a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!”
― Dr. Suess

Gratitude to our Ancestors

I shall teach you little one

I shall teach you little one

As I was scurrying around the house preparing to leave for vacation I had my Native American flute in my hand, I did not want to forget it. It was actually quite cumbersome and awkward carrying it around but I did not dare set it down. You see I begin every day by humbly thanking my ancestors for the gift of the flute and after my prayer of gratitude I play and then  I meditate. It is the cornerstone of my morning well-being practice.

As we climbed out of the car after the 45 minute drive to the airport I could not find my flute. Panic set in that perhaps I left it somewhere it could be damaged or worst did I leave it on the back bumper as I was loading luggage. I found out later I set it down in the house it was safe, thank goodness, but it wasn’t with me. I was crestfallen, the thought of not having it was too uncomfortable to stay with for very long I had to let it go.

I truly believe everything is divinely guided so I trusted that I was not supposed to have it, although I could not conceive why. I tried not to think about it and be present to the journey our family was on to visit our relatives who live far away.

The trip was quite an adventure, we encountered weather and had to spend the night in Atlanta. My husband and kids were agitated and letting me and everyone know their degree of agitation. While waiting in line for at least 30 minutes for the airlines customer service to help us, I was standing behind an elderly woman I would come to find out later she was Dorothy from Savannah.  The batteries in Dorothy’s hearing aids died and she could not hear a thing. A representative from the airline was walking through the line and told Dorothy to go to the next available phone along the wall to get assistance. I heard Dorothy tell the lady she could not understand her because she could not hear, to my shock the lady walked away from Dorothy. I stood in absolute dismay watching this unfold before me. My first thought was for Dorothy and how helpless she must have felt my second thought was for the  young lady, I felt an overwhelming sense of pain for her. I could not understand how a young person could disrespect an elder in such a way.

I tapped Dorothy on the shoulder and shouted to her I would help her I would be her ears on the phone. After several phone calls both on Dorothy’s and our behalf I realized we all would be spending the night in Atlanta. I asked Dorothy if she would like to stay at the same hotel with us and we could ride the shuttle together. I could feel the relief she felt knowing we would all be going together. I booked rooms for us all and we found our way to the shuttle. We arranged for Dorothy to get new batteries for her hearing aids and she called her family who was panic-striken not knowing what had happened to her. Then my daughter and I had supper with Dorothy. My son and husband were too worn out and wanted us to bring something back to them in the room.

We had a lovely visit with Dorothy learning all about her wonderful life. She was on her way to Milwaukee to spend the holidays with her daughter. She was so excited to see her daughter and spoke very fondly of her entire family especially her grandchildren.

I guess I was still speaking in a high volume because of Dorothy’s faulty hearing aids from earlier in the day, because a gentleman at the table next to us who was by himself, and was also stranded, overheard our conversation. He sent a pizza to our table and apologized for eavesdropping but he said “please take this to your husband and son,” I want to buy their supper. We asked Mark to join us at our table and thanked him. He said he began to realize from our conversation that we did not know each other and that we adopted Dorothy and he wanted to do something to thank us in return.

How wonderful! So my daughter delivered the pizza to our hotel room for the boys and came back and we all sat and visited for at least another hour. The waitress at the hotel overheard our story and knowing Mark bought us a pizza and she gave us a round of drinks on the house. We all retired to our rooms, I made sure the front desk arranged for Dorothy to get back to the airport for her flight the next day and I gave her my cell phone number in case she ran into trouble. We were leaving a very early flight and Dorothy’s left in the afternoon so she did not want to get up that early and ride the shuttle back with us. We all bid each other a goodnight and like ships passing in the night I knew I would probably not see them again.

That morning as we were getting packed up to head back to the airport I told my family we were going to say a short prayer for Dorothy so she had a comfortable and safe trip to Milwaukee, without a single word of protest everyone joined in prayer. I hope my children never walk away from an elder in need as they walk their path in this life, but I know this knowledge must be taught and must be modeled at home.

When we arrived I met my auntie, she asked me if I could play her Native American flute on Christmas eve for the family. I could not believe it, I had no idea she had a flute! It was my little Christmas miracle. I loved playing her flute it was wonderful. The whole family was making music together. I believe the great spirit gave me the opportunity to practice what I pray, to give me the opportunity to truly honor and humble myself before my ancestors and elders to understand the gift of this flute that has been passed down to us.

My brother joined us here last night he could not come out until Christmas day, as he walked out from the gate area at the airport he was carrying my flute!!!!!! This morning I woke up and gave thanks to my ancestors and could feel their energy surround me as I played my flute. I honor their wisdom and thank them for this life.

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is represented in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. – Thich Nhat Hanh.

Return to Our Roots and Connect

lodgesThere has been so much discussion about the tragedy in Connecticut and who or what is to blame. I think if we can blame someone or something we believe it helps bring order to this state of confusion. I think we all know it is a complex problem with no easy solutions. I noticed as I was looking at the spelling of the state of Connecticut that the first letters spell “connect” and last letters spell “cut”. I believe that understanding the importance of connection is the beginning of the solution. We have cut our connection in this society. Regardless of your lineage we all are descendants of tribal society. We have strayed far from our tribal roots. I say “we” because I know I have.

In tribal society everyone depends upon each other for their very survival. We talk about all our modern advancements and yes these things have made life easier. We need to see what we have lost in all these advancements we have lost our connection. We longer see the need for each other to survive. Perhaps we don’t need each other for our food and shelter like our tribal ancestors did but we do need each other for our spiritual survival.

I read in the newspaper this morning, a neighbor who lived two doors down from the young man who killed all those beautiful children and teachers, he said he did not know the family at all. This is not surprising we are living in neighborhoods for years, our homes, where we dwell, and we do not know our neighbors. It is so easy to do, we are busy, so busy, our kids are busy, we no longer make the time to connect with our neighbors. I see people running from this function to that function they might have three engagements to run kids to and from in one evening after school and I wonder what are they seeking for their kids for themselves.

When I was growing up in South Dakota I played every sport offered and the ones I was not playing in I was cheerleading. I do not remember running around like kids do today. I practiced after school for an hour and then walked home and still had plenty of time to play with the neighbor kids before suppertime. I do not remember this hectic schedule and pace of kids today, its crazy enough adults are going at this pace but we are now inflicting this craziness on our children. I believe our kids need to connect with each other and with nature, these are the skills they need to survive. They need to climb trees, run barefoot in the grass and they need to know their neighbors. They need to feel connected and they need to learn to connect with others.

I have a neighbor who is so deeply rooted in connection she has literally dragged me along for the ride. I thank her and bless her, it is because of her I can say I know my neighbors. Some I know more than others, but I know my neighbors. Knowing my neighbors helped me grow spiritually and it has helped me survive. Because I know my neighbors we ask each other for help when we need it, we share our burdens. We care for each others kids, we take care of each others animals, we bring dinner to each other when we are sick, we comfort each other during loss. The most important impact of knowing my neighbors, I care about them, I have a better understanding of what they are going through and I love them. Do we always get along? Of course not, its human nature to have differences but those difference are easier to work out when you are already connected and communicate.

Am I saying if that neighbor had known that young man it would have changed the outcome, no, what I am saying is that if we are going to thrive as a society we need to go back to our tribal roots and start caring about each other. My neighbor’s struggle is my struggle, my neighbor’s joy is my reason to celebrate. If we connect with each other and care about each other at home, where we dwell, we create a community, a tribe.

One thing that seems to be a common denominator in all these shootings is the perpetrator tends to be male and is very often identified as a loner. When a single family has to bear the burden of a tormented or challenged soul it can be too much. If a family is supported by a community that burden is shared. Our boys need strong honorable male role models, if that person does not dwell in your home that person could be next door or likely in your neighborhood. Our boys need connection, they need understanding, they need help expressing themselves, as boys do, physically without causing harm to others.

I cannot judge this situation from so far away. I can only share what I believe to be a problem we must address for our very survival. We are so busy being angry at each other because all we see are differences and that makes us afraid. Most of the things we do not agree on are manifestations of modern society. I believe if you take two people who are on completely opposite sides of gun control, political parties, abortion or any other divisive topic and you discuss love, those differences fade away and connection is born. Who is not in favor of love? Who does not want to be loved? Who does not have love within them? You see, the things we are debating they are a red herring, a distraction, from what is so and what we really need to see. What we need to see, discuss and manifest is connection. We need to begin where we live, connect with your neighbors, go back to your tribal roots, with connection a bond is created and from there love will grow. I know it will not solve all our problems but it is a start and it is something we are all capable of doing.

My heart is heavy for the profound loss in Connecticut, their loss is our loss. I pray for the families and I pray for all of us so we can connect and possibly help the other tortured souls out there and avoid this kind of tragedy from happening again.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” – Herman Melville

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