Friday, November 28, 2014

Giving Thanks

I've been busy lately. Life gets that way occasionally. Work keeps me active. Almost every evening or night last week, I had an event as well. No time to blog.

The work week was a short one because of Thanksgiving. After my other activity, I now had an entirely different reason to be busy.

Saying this may give the impression of disgruntlement, yet I honestly have felt awake, aware and alive through it all. My feelings have ranged content to joy. No explanation as to why. No desire to know either.

Reflecting on these past two weeks, I find I've felt much gratitude. I am thankful for my health, my family, my friends. I am grateful to have a job in my career field, health insurance, wonderfully functional vehicle. My deepest gratitude is for the intangibles, the essentials, the essence of life. If I had to put those into words, they'd be: the Ineffable One (known by many names), Breath and Wonder or Awe.

Thanksgiving provides the pause in my busy routines that allows me to recognize and acknowledge that which is truly important ~~ and to give thanks, with as much humility as I can muster.

For what are you grateful? How do you express it? When does your gratitude surface? How do you slow yourself down to notice?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


"One cannot predict the next mythology any more than one can predict tonight's dream; for a mythology is not an ideology. It is not something projected from the brain, but something experienced from the heart."
~ Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space

I love Joseph Campbell and I am grateful for the breadth of his work being recorded in some way. His books, interviews and presentations are fascinating and his creativity boundless. The above statement, two sentences, is packed with meaning.

"[T]he next my mythology..." What does that mean? Are mythologies created? Can they change or adapt to the current age? How much control do we have over their development? or their creation?

To better understand Campbell's statement, I looked for a definition for mythology that went beyond "a collection of myths" and found "...a set of legends, stories or beliefs, especially ones that have a religious or cultural tradition." In that context, each new or emerging culture could potentially develop its own mythology. I like that; it rings true in relation my experiences.

In the media, every 'generation' has received a reference term (Millenials, GenXers, Boomers, etc.). Each of those generations seems to develop some portion of its own mythology. What are the stories, the legends Boomers believe? What about Millenials? How are they different? How are they similar?

Belief in particular stories does come from the heart more than the head. There was a legend that grew around 9/11 regarding who had 'weapons of mass destruction.' Even though the reality proved different from that legend, many people choose to believe the myth.

Now there's a growing movement regarding Marriage Equality. The challenge from the old belief system and from the new mythology are clashing ~ and the new is emerging with a spreading victory across the country.
Although both of these are political situations, their truth lies in the beliefs of the people more than in anything solid. Our culture shifts with each new mythology as it builds momentum and finds footing. Joseph Campbell's statement bears validity today too.

What are the myths you've grown to believe? Do you think mythologies change with each new cultural group that arises? Have your beliefs shifted with the tide? or as you've grown older?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Meaning in Life

"If you want a meaning in your life, find a meaning and bring it into your life, but life won't give you a meaning. Meaning is a concept. It is a notion of an end toward which you are going. The point of Buddhism is This Is It."
~ Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light

Though I wouldn't call myself a Buddhist, I willingly acknowledge This Is It. This moment is truly all I have. I plan for the future: what I'll wear tomorrow; how soon I can pay off my credit cards; dinner plans with a friend. That keeps my mind's eye pointed in that direction. What I have, though, is NOW: the clatter of dishes in the sink, the people around me talking, the music playing over the radio..... and what's most alive in my soul.

What is it that's alive in my soul? In this moment, it's gratitude: for a warm place to sit; for the technology on which I am typing; for the tea I am drinking; for the people in my life, individually and collectively; for my employment.

For me, the most difficult part of This Is It rests in letting go of the plans, of the chatter of my mind about what more needs to be done, of the itch to tap the next screen and read the next text. I live and breathe our fast-paced, overwrought world. Besides that, I'm an information junkie ~~ in certain arenas. I love reading, learning, discovering. Those things keep me focused on the future, on tomorrow or, at the very least, on the next moment.

For now, I'll take a deep breath, let my fingers rest beside the keys rather than on them, close my eyes, and let the breath flow out of me.

How do you stay focused on this moment, the one you are in? Do you believe This Is It? or do you believe there is more? How do you balance yourself between the Now and the Then?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Your Story Heals

Here's a thought:
My story, your story, heals us and others.

I already knew ~ and totally understood ~ that telling my story could, or would, heal me. Simply speaking the story, putting it out to the Universe, provides the opportunity for me to hear how it sounds. Am I whiny? Am I angry? Am I making some of it up? exaggerating? Am I hiding something? Am I afraid? Happy? Sad? Grieving? The recognition of all of those are important for my personal healing. Telling my story brings it all to light.

What I have put into the equation when I tell my story is the impact it can have on another person's healing. What I feel, or felt, about my experience can shine a healing light into the darkness of another's wounds. My story can add a new perspective to the story of another person. If she or he has experienced something similar, the other's mind can compare the two events and see how they are related. Sharing my story encourages the other to share hers or his. So many ways to aid in the healing process!

Probably the most significant and promising healing of sharing stories is in the sharing of them in the first place. It becomes the moment of connection ~ and connections are the basis of health and healing. Connections with others on that deep soul-story sharing level reminds us that we are not alone. It reconnects us with life and breath in its most basic form. I am grateful for every moment of those kinds of connections. They are the cords that form the netting beneath me, that catch me when I fall.

When do you tell your stories to others? Are they stories of joy? sorrow? success? failure? Do some of your stories scare you? Have you risked telling those? If you haven't, why not?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Glad I Didn't Get My Wish

It seems everyone I know has a story about at least one time, and generally multiple times, when he or she felt like a misfit. Out of place moments or awkward situations rank as some of the most difficult times for youth. Teens and early twenties are times when most of us want to fit in, to belong, to feel we are a part of something larger than us. We equate belonging with being loved.

I particularly like this quote for the post script. Getting my wish of fitting in didn't always work out the way I wanted it to work.

Looking back, I find that most of my life was spent "on the outside, looking in." I recognize now that I didn't "fit in" because I was strong in my unique spirit. I wouldn't have said that at the time. It's taken years to recognize its truth. To "fit in" meant doing or saying or wearing things that didn't come naturally to me. I wanted to "fit in" but didn't want to make the required changes. I wanted more to be accepted than to belong.

Now I see the strength that kept me apart as a gift. I had a strong sense of self, though sometimes I found myself wanting the company of others. When my peers went out for pizza or my co-workers met for an after work cocktail, I longed for an invitation to join them. Yet I learned to be content with my solitude. I found my own company enjoyable. Others did invite me along over time. Not fitting in led me to inner peace, a level of comfortability with myself and choice.

Did you want to 'fit in' when you were younger? Did you actually fit in? How did you feel? What did you do to get through it? How do you feel about 'fitting in' now?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Be Teachable

Colette Baron Reid ~ The Enchanted Map

From the guide book:
Wisdom comes from participating in life, not just reading about it. This card suggests that you might not have enough knowledge about what you seek, the direction to take, your circumstances, or the nature of your inquiry. Important information is coming. Note is the time to go to school, ask a person who might know more than you do, or find a teacher or a course of study so that you can more clearly understand what the next right action must be. Sometimes life unexpectedly sends you to an unfamiliar school, and you must learn by experience. Now is a time to be teachable, open to changing your preconceived notions. Be a student, and be willing to say the most powerful mantra of all: "I don't know ~ yet."

When I first saw this card, I thought, "Of course. So fitting for a teacher." Then I read what was written in the guide book. Ahhhh. Quite a different story. This is about being humble and accepting the education as it is presented. More of a wake up call than a pat on the back.

To reinforce this particular lesson after drawing this card, I read a friend's post on Facebook about an experience she is having and we shared a private exchange about the lessons she is learning. My head leans toward saying this kind of experience couldn't happen to me ~ it nudges me in that direction. My heart and my soul know a different story. I ache for the pain my friend is experiencing. I hold her in my prayers. I bow in thanks to be a support and to honor the teacher she is being for me.

I have preconceived notions of my strengths ~ and they are being tested. My pride is currently being challenged to the point that I am being redefined by it. I have a definition of who I am that is being redesigned and charred to the point that I am not sure I will recognize it when it's done. I am learning about what is most important, and what is not. I am a student once again.

Are you in a space of being teachable? What or who in your life has a lesson for you? Are any of your preconceived notions being challenged? How will you face that challenge?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Last week, I attended a wonderful work-related conference. In the final presentation, one of the PowerPoint slides read "Innovate." Although this was the very last presentation, many of the participants were gone, that word struck a chord within me. Innovate.

Innovation only happens in the presence of creativity. Creativity arises from that gently open space inside that feels like magic. The open wonder of play.

Play isn't the only place where we find creativity, but it certainly is the most free, and the most freeing. If you watch children at play, on a school playground, in a park, at a party, you see them making up rules as they go along. When they are young, we applaud this creativity. As children reach 8 or 9, or begin to participate in team sports, we insist they follow specific sets of regulations. This is a good thing in terms of becoming law-abiding, rule-following members of society.

In terms of creativity, the strictest rule-abiders find themselves stymied. This is what the social psychologist Erich Fromm's statement addresses. Abiding by rules implies that particular outcomes are certain: win or lose, right or wrong, success or failure. Yet to innovate, to be fully in the flow of those creative juices, requires ~ not suggests, but demands ~ that I risk and challenge the absolute, the certain, the clearly defined.

Throughout my life, I've rarely seen myself as a risk-taker. And yet.... I've taken great risks that have led to some of the most amazing results: moving half-way across the country with only what could fit in my van and no job; applying for law school; applying for, and getting, a job in Cairo, Egypt. None of these, or others I could list, were certain successes. Yet all of them led to life-changing, wonderful, incredible creative moments in my worldview.

To innovate in my life right now requires me to let go of what appears as certain, to risk failure (or what others might describe as failure), to allow creativity to crack through the shell with which I surround myself. I embrace the challenge!

How do you allow creativity into your life? What does innovation mean to you? What keeps you from being more creative, more innovative? What courageous first step will you take to change that?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Loving Your Soul

Teabag Tarot....what an incredible, crazy, wonderful statement to awaken to!
Love. Your. Soul.
The words themselves, run together into a sentence as they are, appear simple to the point of being a no-brainer. Yet the number of people I see who clearly do not love their souls astounds me.

Clearly I don't always love my soul. I don't think about it, consider how the consequences of my actions reflect the care I have, or do not have, for my soul. When I allow stress to take over my life to the point where I eat everything in sight or sit around the house in a stupor....then I'm not showing care for my soul.

I don't show care for my soul when I disrespect myself. That can be by talking in a way that others may approve of, but that is not healthy for me ~ like gossiping or making fun of others. Or it can be the way I carry myself, from wearing clothing to "fit in" to using language I may or may not otherwise use or smoking. It isn't about whether or not I do any of these things, the actions themselves are neutral. It's about my intention when I do them.

Loving my soul ~ loving your soul ~ takes practice and presence. It takes paying attention to my thoughts and intentions. Sometimes it also means taking time to be alone so that I can check in with my soul, recognize how it responds when I act or speak or move or dress certain ways. I want to love my soul. That's where the entire practice begins.

How do you show love for your soul? What practices do you have to stay in touch with your soul? Do you recognize its rhythm? What will you do to keep in touch with that part of you?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Full Moon in Taurus

I was all set to write about something else in today's blog when an astrologer friend said, "Don't take a position!"

"Why not? What are you talking about?" I asked.

She chuckled and told me that this Full Moon would bring out the 'positions' in all of us ~ and may cause some problems in the manner in which they pop up. "It's about finding your deeper values and being flexible in the way in which you show them."

Great. I'm guessing that means I need to watch what I say and how I say it, which is often on my mind. Communication, clear communication, is one of my greater values. It'd be good if that showed up right now.

I decided to look for more information. This is what I found at
"This Full Moon is a good time to determine just what you value and want to stand for, create in your life and carry forth into the next cycle of evolution." But this was my favorite part in its echo of what my friend had said: "If you look around you can see the bloody knuckles, scraped knees and noticeable limps of those around you who may not have taken Saturn's 'suggestions' to put responsibility, discipline and mature patience into play... Now, seeing as Scorpio's realm is power, sexuality, death and transformation as well as the shamanic and shadow worlds, we are experiencing just how fundamental the surrender (a most feminine action)_ to the Divine is for our survival...
Attachment (Taurus) and letting go, i.e. death (Scorpio) are big themes highlighted at this Moon. Look deeply and closely at anything diminishing your self-worth and address the issues underlying your lack of intimacy, inability to show up in all your radiance, or buried beliefs in scarcity."

Okay. So how'd mysticmamma ~ and my friend for that matter ~ get inside my head and heart to expose my biggest issues..... or, wait, are these issues for more people than me? Is that what she's suggesting? Yeah. That's about the sum of it.

Can you feel the pull of the Full Moon? How do you feel? What's being uncovered about your values? What attachment do you need to release?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Call of Grief

Grief may be the most misunderstood of feelings. It strikes like a snake hidden in the grass. As the world begins to appear in color again, grief raises its all-suffering head. It screams, alone and out of control. It is a solitary and singular feeling.

The past two weeks, death traversed my path several times. A co-worker shared about two deaths that happened within a week of each other and another that is imminent. A friend had to put her beloved dog to sleep. Yet another school shooting tore apart a small community. After a multi-year battle, the younger brother of a friend chose to let his kidney disease take his life. I've watched for years the physical deterioration of a friend with AIDS.

I don't know how to comfort someone cocooned in grief. All I can do is reach out, touch him or her to signal "I am here for you" and allow the space or distance or closeness needed. When my own grief arises, I hope someone is around to do the same for me.

Grief is more than a feeling, stronger than any other emotion. There is an aspect of it that is intensely physical, aching and overwhelming. Its timing and rhythm are random, chaotic and entirely its own.

Despite all this, grief also draws people together. Communities care for those in grief with food, comfort and even physical assistance ~ such as cleaning house or mowing the lawn. I understand another's grief because I have tasted my own. Loss is an experience we all share. We understand its cyclical nature as well.

Have you had a recent encounter with grief? Your own? or someone else's? What effect did it have on you? What did you do about or with it? How do you care for yourself when you feel grief? Is it different if it's your own? or another's?

All Hallows Day

All Saints' Day in Poland
My personal and spiritual continually unfolding myth includes both the Pagan celebrations, such as Samhain or Hallowe'en, and the Christian celebrations, like All Hallows or All Saints' Day. Both encourage the honoring of the ancestors, of those who have already passed through the veil from this world to the next.

The image above is of a graveyard in Poland where there is an honoring of those who have died. Flowers and candles abound as far as the eye can see. It reminds me of a variety of festive days: weddings, family birthdays, funerals, graduations. Any of the days we choose to celebrate are decorated with floral arrangements and honored with lit candles.

I knew few of my ancestors. My maternal grands died when my mother was a teenager. My paternal grandfather died when I was perhaps five. I recall very little about him, except that my brother and I would play on his sick bed and he enjoyed our company. My maternal grandmother died when I was seventeen. My high school graduation was her last family event. I have stories of all of them. Images and words surface in the dreamtime, arising from that stored genetic pool of memory. This is a day when I can sit within that dreamtime, connect with them, talk through my day, the course of my life, gather tidbits of wisdom from them. At the close of day, I blow out the candles with a heart filled with gratitude, joy and grief. What an amazing time.

How do you honor your ancestors? What do you feel when you think of them? What would you like to say to them? to ask of them? to share with them? What do you want from them? Are you pleased with their responses?