Friday, November 19, 2010

Five Reasons for Laughing In Times of Adversity

Laughter flies into the face of fear and brings us back to hope.

In today’s world, we need to have courage and indulge in borderline insanity to laugh, but laughter redeems us. It takes us out of the shadows and into the sunlight. It exorcises the demons of ego and ignorance. It helps us accept our imperfections. We are after all, comical beings.

I keep a cache of films that I watch whenever I need a good belly laugh. They include among others Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Charlie Chaplin and his character the little tramp, along with the classics by Laurel and Hardy. Watching them I’m able to laugh at those moments when life seemed to take an embarrassing turn, or threatened to overwhelm me. For instance, the allergy attack that surfaced during my wedding ceremony and had me sneezing all the way through. (I should have known that the allergy was a strong hint about the relationship that ended in divorce!) There was the auspicious moment when I, the single mom, paddling as fast as she could exec left the house in a rush to attend a business presentation with my sweater inside out. Putting on my poker face, I promised it was a new fashion trend and the formal atmosphere shifted. I got the job and laughed all the way home.
When I was nine months pregnant I attended a ceremony with the Dalai Lama. Afterward, as I attempted to kneel to receive a blessing - not an easy thing to do when you have a 30-pound belly that defies any grace you might ordinarily possess. As I came close to ending up in a heap at his feet he gestured for me to remain standing. His belly laughter set me off. We both ended up in tears.
Being too rational not only stifles laughter, it puts the lid on creativity. Creativity happens when we cut loose from the boredom of logic and shoot for the moon no matter how absurd or impossible it may seem. Some of the world’s most creative people were laughed at for their ideas, only to have their detractors shuffle their feet in chagrin. In 1977, Ken Olson, the President of Digital Corporation said, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” We can all be grateful that Stan Wozniak and Steve Jobs who gave us Apple Computers didn’t feel the same way.

If there’s anything I’ve ever been sure of, it’s that the Gods have a sense of humor. We receive sound advice and then we ignore it and when we return, asking why didn’t you let me know; they laugh and laugh and laugh.

Five Reasons to Laugh:
1)When we laugh, we leave the ordinary behind.
2)Laughter helps us be freer, more spontaneous.
3)Laughter is a universal language.
4)Laughter aids digestion, comforts us and helps us stay alert.
5)Laughter helps save relationships.

When was the last time you really laughed at something you did and how did it make you feel?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Labels Are Ghosts That Cling to Our Backs

Just because the message may never be received, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth sending - Japanese Buddhist teaching.
Labeling people is something I not only distrust; it makes me sad. For instance, Helen Keller, blind and deaf, was early on labeled as dumb – something that’s not uncommon for someone who’s challenged in speaking. She was fortunate enough to meet a woman who wanted to know her, to help. In the ensuing years, her gifts were uncovered, and she went on to become a well-known author and advocate for women’s suffrage and people with disabilities. She counted among her good friends, Mark Twain and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It’s easier to label the woman who washed clothes for years on end as the ‘help’, the one who could always be seen with her hands in soapy water, or bent over an ironing board. Then you learn when she’s retired or dead, that she saved close to a million dollars and left it all to scholarships for at risk children who promised to graduate from high school. I like to imagine that at least 10 out of those 100 went on to create a life very different from what others believed they were destined to live.
Today, labeling has become particularly insidious. It’s easy to call someone an extreme conservative or socialist commie. Sometimes, I wish I could sit down with one of them for an hour or more. As they began to preach about that person or party and the damage they’d done, I imagine a conversation that might go something like this:
1) Me: I can see that this really concerns you and I want to be sure I fully understand you’re saying. Could you please state that in slightly different terms?
(That tends to slow someone down, because they think that since you didn’t hear what they said, you’re probably slow, or even dumb.)
2) Then I would repeat what they said and ask if I got it right. Then I would give them more recognition. ‘I can hear how this concerns you. Is there anything else that concerns you about this? Can you expand on what you’re saying?
(Now they know you’re listening and they tend to talk not only slower, but more thoughtfully.)
3) After they’ve expanded on their thoughts, I tell them ‘I can see how that could
be really troubling. I’ve thought about that too, in slightly different way. I proceed to lay out my thoughts, seeking ways we can find a mutually agreed upon solution. At that moment in time, we be successful, but we may have opened a door to future dialogue.
The highly esteemed author and creator of Non Violent Communications, Marshall Rosenberg was once called to assist at a meeting of Jews and Palestinians that took place on the West Bank. The first day was rife with accusations and labels – ‘Murderer’ and ‘Thief’ as each side unloaded all of their loss and anger. Then came the second day. Each of those horrifying experiences were verbally recognized by the opposite side. Then, Rosenberg began to ask each one: What is it you really want? What do you need? What can’t you live without?
By the end, everyone in the room realized that the two things they wanted most were two things they all shared; safety, and a chance for their children to be educated. Then they began talking about small steps they might take to make those things happen.
Labels are the ghosts of our emotions and our imagination. Feeding those ghosts has them clinging to our backs. They speak through our words. They impoverish our conservations and our lives.
When you find yourself labeling someone else, stop and ask yourself:
1)Who does this person love?
2)Has he ever cried?
3)Is he lonely?
4)What changed him from the child he once was?
5)Did anyone ever tell him he mattered?
6)What is he really seeking?

Somewhere inside those questions, you may find a shared truth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Five Reasons Why Returning to Your Senses Can Change Your Life

Their eyes are so clouded by emotions they cannot see – African Proverb
When I’m feeling dislocated or stressed returning to my senses helps me return to my self. Taste, touch, sound, sight and scent provide clarity, new energy and once again my mind is the beginner’s mind ready to dare.
What Lies Within the Senses:
1) Taste: Bitter or sour taste brings our attention to imbalance. Spicy flavors warm the tongue and the belly. Sweetness comforts. The sweet spiciness of curry in my rice adds heat to my belly and raises my energy.
2) Touch: Without touch we become isolated. Today, I shared an embrace with the checker at the supermarket who always wears a smile. He whispers the doctors have told me I’m dying. As we hold each other, we’re giving and receiving. I’m telling him ‘not yet’. His embrace tells me thank you for reminding me. We united by the knowledge of how precious the moment is.
3) Sound: The vibrant chords of Bach, Mozart and Vivaldi activate the brain. The sounds of a mournful sax brings to surface any sadness I need to let go of. The rhythmic beat of salsa makes me move. The words Once Upon a Time lead me to stories of heroes, witches, and laughter.
4) Sight: The light from the fire disperses darkness. Sunrise and sunset move me through the shifts of the day. The darkest hours of the night lead me into dreams.
5) Scent: The smell of sage freshens my memories of climbing to the top of giant rocks in the desert and discovering an oasis below me. The aroma of good food holds the promise of nourishment and community.
Five Reasons to Return to Your Senses.
1) Freedom from what has troubled you.
2) New energy comes to the surface.
3) When the senses are open, so is the mind.
4) You feel more connected to self and others.
5) With all of the above you’ve gained a little leverage to address what’s happening around you.
When we return to our senses in a series of moments during the day, dropping in whenever we feel the need, we’re gradually reforming our brains, our consciousness. We hear the messages that come from the heart.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Being a Change Maker Has No Age Limits: 12 Tips for Daring Older Women

This year my birthday fell on the 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year of the decade. I’ve never studied numerology – it just doesn’t light my fire - but I’m well aware that the number ten has gathered a collective energy that ranks high on the scale of all sorts of things like emotions; sex appeal; product reviews. Plus, ten can signify perfection or hell.
The days leading up to this unusual convergence of personal tens were steadily heading toward a great personal loss. Around midnight of 10/10/10, I received the email saying that one of the women I cherish most was being taken off life support. First came the tears, and the mourning; the sense of loss. Never again would hear her voice at the other end of the phone line, or see her smile when I entered a room. No more the irreverent glint that appeared in her eyes when the potential for mischief arose. We would never again share the secrets, the concerns, the prayers that women tell other women, nor would we walk arm in arm down the street.
In her 80s, she’d lived quite an extraordinary life. On her honeymoon, she slept in a palace and explored Jaipur on the back of an elephant. In Europe, she was on the cusp of elegance. As a hostess, nobody kept them laughing like she did. She could eat a pound of spaghetti and never gain an ounce. Above all, she loved her family. To her granddaughter, who loved the stories of a rosary toting fun-filled deb, she was known as ‘La Divina.’
Sitting up in the wee hours, I couldn’t help but think about how much she was a woman of her generation. Okay, she lived a life full of glamour and excitement, but in her later years, she talked about coming of age in the 40s; the toll it took. That side of her life was incredibly harsh. Like other women taught to follow the well-worn path of femininity she was warned of the risks, the isolation from family and friends that lay in choosing something more daring. Some women were braver than others. Many continued to hear the faint siren’s voice of what might have been, the silent longing for fulfillment on a deeper level. Some turned bitter rolling their desires into angry and sad packages of wishes and urgings they placed in the arms of their own daughters. It didn’t have to be that way, but more often than not, it just was.
After thinking about what I would miss about this dearest of women, I began to wonder if there wasn’t something I could give her, something in memory of her. The winds of unpredictability are blowing stronger than ever before. For women worldwide this seems to be particularly true. They advance and the demons that oppose change rise up to stop them. In the Middle East, it’s fundamentalist Islam, in the West, it’s also the fundamentalists. The people who just can’t seem to grasp that going back isn’t possible. What was once daring has become more satisfying. If that weren’t true we wouldn’t see so many young women getting college degrees.
If we’re going to do things that matter, whether it’s standing, walking or even while sitting in a wheelchair, we need to take more chances. It’s important to remember that Change Makers aren’t necessarily those who make great waves. They may be the quiet ones who carry light into dark corners so that others can find their way out. It doesn’t require being rich, climbing mountains, or building an empire. There are always slots for you to fill at 50, 60, 70 and beyond. Older women who dare have much to offer; their experience, their survival skills, their collection of stories. Being a Female Change Maker is a state of mind and spirit and the rewards are immense. If you’re interested here are important things to help:
1. Honor differences.
2. Practice compassionate communication.
3. Be intellectually hungry and seek out big ideas.
4. Laugh a lot.
5. Forget about the due dates society imposes on age.
6. By now you’ve stumbled, fallen and got up again. You CAN do it again.
7. Don’t be judgmental. Cultivate forgiveness.
8. Listen for the echoes. If more than one person is telling you something, there may be some truth in it.
9. Listen for the good stories, the ones that inspire and offer solutions. Then pass them forward.
10.Honor your wrinkles; they’re stripes of service to life.
11.Build on what you know, but be ready to modify or create something you’ve only dreamed about.
12. Hang onto your hat; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Do you have any other ideas to add to this list? Please share!

(Here’s looking at you, C. The stories, the laughter, the times we shared and the love you gave me are tucked in close to my heart.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet My Tribe - The Creatively Maladjusted

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
When Dr. King spoke of maladjusted, he was speaking of my tribe. The people who refuse to settle for normal, they’re alert to the possibilities that come when you look at the world from a slightly skewed perspective. And with 60+ years, I’ve never been so excited as I am now about this moment in history and the creatively maladjusted. Okay, there’s a lot I don’t like what’s happening, things that make me feel uncomfortable and afraid. However, I’m not about to feed that wolf - that hungry animal that thrives on fear. I know fear sells, but I’m not sold on it. I’d rather keep my eyes on the glory, the absurd that’s emerging from people who had the nerve to step outside the box.
It all reminds me of that amazing period in Europe called the Renaissance, the French word for rebirth and in Italian Rinascimento, from ri- "again" and nascere – to be born. A break through historical moment that gave us writers, architects and thinkers like Michelangelo to Dante, Brunelleschi and Da Vinci, to name a few. Underlying this astonishing creative eruption was a cultural and educational reform movement called Humanism. Humanists held the intent of creating well rounded citizens, women and men; people who would be able to write eloquently and with clarity and would be capable of persuading acts of virtue in their communities.
It seems to me that Humanists were what Jeremy Rifkin, author and advisor on sustainability to the European Community calls Homo Empathicus. As far as I’m concerned, they’re back in greater numbers. They’re taking the lead in promoting life supporting choices and change. Rifkin believes empathic consciousness will be the new organizing principle for global society. The Big Bonus: It’s extremely valuable in the lean years, as it offers support for both parties, which means greater opportunity for success. Without it, he believes we may not even have a future.

During the Renaissance artists were supported by some of Europe’s wealthiest and most powerful families, like the Medici in Italy. Today, millions are supporting others by connecting and providing access to their ideas and spirit on blogs, Skype, in local meet ups and flash crowds. Today, we have hundreds of thousands of people who become patrons and donors who use penny power and micro-financing to provide meals, and healthcare, and education. It seems to me that’s a whole lot of intentional international humanism.

The creatively maladjusted have moved beyond normal to empowering the wildly sublime.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Finding Hope and Beauty in the Ruins: A Pilgrim's Journey to the Gulf Coast

And So It Was I Entered the Broken World – Hart Crane

A glossy sheen shifts over the swells and currents of the water. A shell-covered back road that winds through thick vegetation leads to a smaller cove whose entry is blocked by several lines of booms. In the center, a mother porpoise, two babies and the nurse playfully dive and surface. Cicadas rattle the air. A young girl’s bathing suit and a pair of tennis shoes lay abandoned on a small rise.

The Gulf Coast news reports waters turning from blue to black. The dead rise from the sea and wash ashore; dolphins, a sperm whale, countless birds and fish. Others sink silently to the bottom. All mute witnesses to a massacre they’re mostly some distance to the West of where I stand. It’s rumored that soon the beaches of Florida will be submitted to the same indignities.

Perdido, which means lost in Spanish acquired its name due to an entrance which can be easy to miss. According to local lore it was a hiding place for pirates. Spending two very short days here feels like a rare gift. Wild and thick, nature in this place packs a visceral punch. As in tropical zones, the beauty is transient, sometimes dangerous and always seductive. It’s easy to imagine a saber tooth tiger suddenly appearing to sip from the small freshwater brook meanders through the woods.

The diversity of creatures on land, in the air and the water is immense and as the land has been developed over the years you find their names appearing on lists with headings like: extinct, endangered, rare, and exotic.

We stop for seasonal sweet corn, cantaloupe and plump blueberries from a stand at the side of the road. Two dogs snarl, circling each other as they battle over territorial rights. The small mutt wins and the Lab retreats, shaking his coat, as if to say he doesn’t care. Getting into the car, I’m reminded it’s not always size. Belief and the willingness to risk all means I’ve just witnessed another David and Goliath story unfold.

At midnight, it’s still so humid and hot, that the air snatches my breath from my lungs. In bed, stretched out in the darkness, I quietly review the day. The patches on the water with an opalescent sheen, small black tar balls on white sugar sand. I am a pilgrim to a broken land that’s part of a larger broken world. I know there’s nothing here, or anywhere for that matter, that hasn’t changed, that won’t change. All the same, I believe one can find beauty and hope in the ruins. If I listen carefully, I’ll hear the prayers of what’s dying, what’s struggling to survive, and what wants to be born.

Day II
Two Red Flags:


Passing small restaurants and shops with hastily written red letters that advertise URGENT SALES, we arrive at the public beach. The red flags hang limply from the top of a pole on an empty lifeguard station. The sand is blindingly white; it makes my eyes sting. Under a loose gauzy top, my skin feels as if it’s been seared.

A few yards a vision that combines past, present and a possible future stops me in my tracks. Not a soul is in the water. A line of people stretches as far as the eye can see in both directions. No one moves. Those who speak do so quietly. They stare at the horizon, until inevitably their gaze drops to where curved lines of muddy looking foam lick at their toes.

This is where they come to swim and play, to relax. It’s home. One feels their anger. They’re mourning. My heart hurts as I step into line beside them.

For the outlander, Southerners and southern culture is deceptive. One is led to believe being slow in speech and movement local brains are pan-fried like the fish and chicken they enjoy eating. But if the traveler stays awhile, they soon learn that these are stubborn, hardy folk. They have a sly sense of humor that creeps up and slaps you on the side of the head. It takes a lot to survive the elements down here. Yes, they’re sometimes slow to accept new ideas, but they’re generous and the love they have for their home runs fierce and deep.

Late Afternoon. The Seafood Shack:

We pull into the parking lot in front of a white ramshackle building located on a quiet inlet about 8 miles inland from the Gulf shores. Outback a line of empty midsized shrimp boats bump against the docks. The small seafood distributor is where many of the locals go to buy crab, oysters, redfish, halibut, snapper and shrimp among others. Fishing was a $2.5B industry in the Gulf.

The man behind the counter wears a cap pulled low above pale blue eyes. His skin is weathered and lined. The name on his spotted and frayed short sleeve shirt is Bubba. The dictionary defines Bubba as a name commonly given ‘to white uneducated men who are gregarious with their peers.’ It rolls off the tongue like a word a small child might substitute for something that doesn’t fit or is difficult to say. It has an affectionate sound to it. Like most every Southerner, for Bubba a simple sentence isn’t sufficient about going to the corner to buy a pound of flour. Where’s the fun in that? My Bubba (I’m already thinking of him that way) launches into the story about the shrimpers, the boats, long nights and lost jobs. Jim Bob who’s had a few is currently sleeping on the dock out back. Twenty-five years as a shrimper and now nothing.

BP is hiring people with boats to patrol the Gulf. They call in when they spot a slick and wait for the skimmers. Sadly, not all of the fisher captains are hired because some slick operators who own boats they use on weekends have taken temporary leaves from work, or closed their shops and hired on. “Hell,” Bubba says, “there’s even some minister who drives a hundred miles, his boat in tow. He figures on clearing around $50K the next weeks.”
Further West, he informs me, some shrimper captains are leading ‘tours of destruction.’

When we ask how the shrimp are, he assures us they’re fine. We order three pounds. The shrimpers are sailing several hundred miles further. Ordinarily, they would unload at the docks in the back. Now, they loading up their pickup trucks and drive non-stop through the night to bring Bubba their shrimp.

As we leave, a group of young men are gathering, part of the clean up crew that will heading to the beach. Their faces are lined with exhaustion. Their eyes are dim.

Outside, a group of tired looking young men are gathering, part of the clean up crew that will be heading to the beaches.

How Do We Pick Up The Pieces?


The cosmos works by a harmony of tensions like the lyre and the bow - Heraclitus

We’re tearing nature apart limb-by-limb, creature by creature, sea to sea, mountains and deserts, rivers and lakes. We act as if the land is our slave. And each person that does nothing to conserve nature is accountable for her dying.

Once diversity goes, so do we. Science hasn’t come close to calculating the importance of the links between creatures and humans. There isn’t time when you line up the number of deaths and extinctions occurring at a breathtaking pace. Some links, however, are obvious. For instance, over thirty percent of the bee population has disappeared in the last few years. Without them we will be living mainly on grains, no fruits and fewer vegetables. As a nation we use more oil per capita than any other country in the world.
As nature writer Terry Tempest Williams wrote 'Each morning, we must ask ourselves how do we wish to live and with whom.'

The root of the noble is in the common, the high stands on what’s below.
Tao te Ching

We need to connect because it is in community with like-minded individuals we will find ways to conserve, and survive. In community there’s less chance of severe burnout. In community we are inspired. We learn to build on the work of others. Communities don’t wait on D.C. or dwell on who’s to blame.

All across America, regional groups and communities are busy creating solutions and preparing for what might come. Detroit is turning abandoned blocks and empty streets into parks and farmland, saving on utilities and bringing people together. Cleveland has taken an abandoned mall and turned it into an atrium where they’re growing vegetables and fruits. In town halls people are charting their destiny as they make group decisions as to the next step that’s needed whether it has to do with education, jobs, or basic resources.

In the Gulf, groups gather to form a center of concern. Blogs are created with videos that show what’s happening, along with to do lists. Amidst stories of childhood games of pirates, swimming with dolphins, and Independence Day picnics, neighbors pinpoint resources. Plans are drafted to protect this small corner, their corner.

The Morning of Day III:


Rising early, as I step outside to savor the view of the Bay one last time, a poem by Mary Oliver comes to mind.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
If I have made of my life something particular and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
Or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.


(* This blog will begin to provide easy hook ups for anyone who wants to join a community that’s enabling life-supporting change.)

A list from ‘The Soul of a Citizen” for your bathroom mirror.

• Be Radical
• Be Radically Patient
• Keep your eyes open
• Find your community
• Seek Solutions
• Connect and be compassionate with others & yourself.
• Be playful
• Sleep
• Eat local and well
• Take time to reflect
• Give yourself credit
• Look for the light in the shadows of defeat, and beauty in the ruins.
• Celebrate the small victories.

The future will be created by not only by what we learn, it will be created by the values of hearts and souls.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm Proud to be a MUTT

I’m a MUTT, and what could be better than that?

Purebred dogs are beautiful, but why settle for one dog, when you can have a combination of both or several?

Athough the rules changed in 2009, up until then you didn’t see mutts at the AKC Show, that country clubbish gathering with purebreds groomed to the tips of their toes and lashes. Where somewhere a sign was posted Real Dogs Are Forbidden to Enter.

Purebreds may be more beautiful on the outside, but mutts know inner beauty is what counts. Your purebred is more likely to be stolen, a mutt won’t. In Brazil and the Dominican Republic MUTTS are called vira lata (trash can tippers) which means not only are they survivors, they’re problem solvers. Known as quick thinkers, their boundless curiosity makes them well informed. MUTTS don’t get lost, but if you do they’re experts at finding people who will help.

Mutts enjoy going to places where you never know who you’ll meet. Back roads and barrios and parks where there are a lot of people to play with, especially kids with frisbees.

MUTTS get a kick out of making other people laugh because when there’s laughter, anger and sorrow are somewhere else. And sometimes they might even get a treat.

MUTTS make great pals. Bring them home and they’ll love you forever, because you knew a good thing when you saw it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Elegance of Simplicity, The Beauty in Space

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a nomad. It started when I was five and ran away from home to spend the night under an avocado tree several blocks away. Thrilled to be there, I was also deathly afraid of what might be waiting in the darkness just beyond my leafy sanctuary.
In the years that followed, I was compelled to travel further and further, until there were thousands of miles between me and the town I’d grown up in. I crossed oceans and continents, spending intervals in Europe, South and Central America. I slept in a hammock, on boats, in a Roman wine cellar and in an 11the century castle
When I first started off I carried a few suitcases. They became trunks that disappeared in the holds of cargo ships and the backs of trucks alongside small mountains of boxes. There were the utensils I couldn’t live without; pots and pans, clothes, linens and paintings. Photos and small bits and pieces were the footprints of my past. Always always there was a collection of books that kept growing.
Eventually, I’ve divested myself of two husbands, a long-term live in lover, and my daughter followed nature’s course and moved to Manhattan. Another few years passed, and suddenly I began to relinquish my possessions, despite the occasional tug or ache that appeared when I handed over something that had served me well. The orange Le Creuset pot that cooked a perfect stewed chicken, and weighed 6 pounds! Having more than one blanket, the heavy royal blue wool was given to a woman I met. It’s hard to fall asleep when you’re freezing, and as a single mother of three she needs to nourish her dreams. Although I haven’t given them all up and never will, a great many of my beloved books have slowly been repurposed, finding their way to libraries and into the hands of people who I felt would enjoy them.
And as things continued to disappear, I began to recognize the elegance of simplicity. The beauty of space. In the forest, it’s the clearing. In the desert, the sky. On the beach, it’s the horizon. In Chinese calligraphy, empty space is named ‘designing the white’ and it enhances the blackness of the letters. In Japanese gardens, the empty space provides balance. It defines the elements that surround it, just as the elements that surround it define the space.
Like the yoga master who teaches that the empty space following the breaths inward and outward is where great movement occurs, modern physics tells us that there is no empty space. What appears to be emptiness is filled with particles, atoms and invisible energy.
Bringing emptiness into various aspects of my life, gave me the freedom and serenity that I’d unknowingly longed for. No more need to carve out chunks of time to polish the furniture and the silver!
My friend R, a devout Buddhist and a healer of children from war zones, once said, I don’t think I’ll reach enlightenment this lifetime, nor am I completely sure I even want to. We both laughed. Be that as it may, I’ve come to believe that the last stage of a woman’s life journey is when she focuses on cultivating her soul, something that’s done moment by moment. Enjoying the peaks and lighting fires in the darkness, life becomes an act of devotion, a joyous commitment to all living beings. Embracing divine madness, moments of insight and the intoxification of Divine Love, the older woman finds grace by surrendering to simplicity.
The journey becomes easier.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day: Bring the Real One Back!

"War is unhealthy for children and other living things."
Larriane Schneider

Shortly after the Civil War, activist, Julia Ward Howe wrote a Mother’s Proclamation. It began with these words:

We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.


Her intentions for a Mothers for Peace Day changed over the years, until finally in the early 20th century, the date was co-opted by the floral industry. From there it ballooned into a billion dollar industry.

One thing is still certain, no matter where you go, what color or nationality you are, mothers everywhere want the same thing for their children: food to eat, safe shelter and love. Now, it’s time for mothers to take back the day! Imagine what would happen if all the mothers in America asked their children to join them in declaring a Mothers for Peace Day.
This mother’s day, you can start in your own neighborhoods and homes by holding a Mothers for Peace Day.

These are some of the things you can do:
1. Organize a family or neighborhood potluck to talk about peace. Ask the children what peace means to them? Talk about the roles of compassion, kindness, forgiveness and beauty in creating peace. Ask them what it means to do no harm.

2. Tell them Sadako’s story, a Japanese girl who developed "bomb sickness" shortly after Hiroshima. Informed by a friend ‘if you fold a 1000 paper cranes you will be granted a wish,' and wishing to be well, Sadako began making cranes. She died before she could finish. Her classmates made the rest and they helped raise money for a peace memorial built in her honor.
Make your own origami cranes for peace. (watch this easy YouTube video for making a crane with recycled paper www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnBhAhqU_PY ) String them in neighborhood windows or in your family’s home.

3. Jill McManigal, co-founder of Kids for Peace (www.kidsforpeaceusa.org) was inspired by her daughter, Hana, to start this group which grew to 17 chapters across the U.S. They have a Facebook page (Kids for Peace) with all kinds of interesting links for ways to get involved. There are other programs on their website.

4. Write out the Kids for Peace Pledge. Have them share it at school.

I pledge to use my words to speak in a kind way.
• I pledge to help others as I go throughout my day.
• I pledge to care for our earth with my healing heart and hands.
• I pledge to respect people in each and every land
• I pledge to join together as we unite the big and small.
• I pledge to do my part to create peace for one and all.


5. Some children connect peace to having a healthy environment. You can start by bringing home a ‘peace’ tree and planting it in your backyard.
Find a local eco group you and your kids can be involved with.

And when your Mothers for Peace Day is coming to a close, sit down quietly with the children and tell them this. Mothers everywhere dream of peace for their children and the world needs children who dream of peace. Tell them how unique they are, how clever they are and that there’s never been another one like them. That you believe that day by day they have an important part in creating peace. Then thank them because by sharing a Mother Day for Peace, you’ve already begun to make those dreams come true.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Normal is Cow. My Dance Partner's Name is Indulgence

At 14, after looking closely at a cow in a pasture I made a momentous decision. Despite its lovely lashes, I realized that behind the lazy cud chewing and outrageous eyelashes was a shoo-in for Normal. Don’t get me wrong; cows are okay. Unless you find a bale of hay exciting, they never really go anywhere you’d find particularly interesting.
Following my cow epiphany, I went on the run from Normal. Occasionally, I would hear others ask for Normal, praise, and give thanks when Normal was the star of their lives. Often, I wondered about these people and why were they seeking Normal. Normal isn’t challenging. It doesn't ask me to do my best. It certainly didn’t find its way to an illiterate blind healer who built a small village for a group of blind lepers and taught them to sing Bach a Capella. Normal didn’t sit at the table of poor fishermen who emptied their cupboards for a hungry stranger.
Normal often feels entitled to keep things on an even keel and isn't fond of passion. It shuns the difficult questions. Normal wouldn’t have heard firsthand the story of the man who put together a flotilla of taxis, old cars and school buses to save hundreds from being killed by a murderous group of soldiers.
Normal didn’t live in an all black low-income neighborhood in Los Angeles with crazy Corene two doors away. With her scarred face, false teeth, and pissy attitude hiding her generous heart, Corene loved to tease the neighborhood kids who thought she was a witch. She lent me cotton gloves to go dumpster diving for cans she recycled for a nickel per. I became her chauffeur and gave her avocado rights to the tree against my house. She brought me cheese from the Food Bank, a wicked sense of humor and a new awareness about what it’s like to never go through the front door of a white person’s house. Normal would have run away before any of these things could have happened.
As an older woman, I sometimes wish for Normal, but only for a few seconds when I’m very tired. Now that I have a few decent years in my sails, my non-normal Self has a new dance partner. His first name is indulgence, his name eccentric. He’s also a big fan of Non Normal. We do very well together. If I can’t go to sleep he escorts me outside to sit under the moon. He reminds me when I’m being too critical of my Self. We laugh when I wear my slippers to the market and take an afternoon nap on my bed. There are times we practice selective hearing, something that gets easier as you get older and something we have in common with teenagers. He applauds when I turn out a story. Sometimes, we’re loud, others quiet. We watch each other’s back.
I’ve traveled a long way from Normal and wouldn’t have the slightest idea of how to go back. Why would I want to? How about you?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Giving Birth to Your Power in the Last Stage of Life: 10 Things You Need to Know.

You're about to give birth. It's a natural process and something we all long for. Secretly, we wish to hear the collective YES when we deliver. Yet, so many older women don’t realize their power or are afraid of what they could do and be. It’s common to hear talk about not knowing what to do, of feeling useless. They feel tired and unfilled. What they haven’t realized is that this phase of life is the best time to give birth to their personal power.
It’s a journey that often begins by looking from the bottom up, as we recognize that most cultures believe women lack something. They’re damaged goods, second-class citizens. Dr. Christian Northrup wrote in her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom of being in countless delivery rooms and hearing women apologize to their husbands that the baby wasn’t a boy. Too often, it’s said that a man could do the job better. He’d be less likely to veer away from the goal because of family obligations. I find it significant that the earth is commonly referred to in the feminine, Mother Earth, Nature. Not only is Nature a mother, she’s seen as unpredictable, vengeful. Excuse me, men don’t ever choose to act out in those ways?
I believe women are less emotionally fragile than men. Who’s usually the one to raise the children, along with all the other details that fall in your lap? As a woman, you’ve headed a small corporation, and have been running it at full speed. Right now the world is poised for women with LIFE experience to take the lead. Older women are needed to inform others of healing ways that can only be learned in the course of a lifetime. We must tell those around us what it’s like to come full circle and set out on a hero’s quest from a different level of consciousness. We must tell them the stories of life’s beauty, of love and chaos, what it’s like to plant seeds, and about the pain and the grace that can be found when you’re preparing to die.
First comes the quest.
At the onset of the quest, a ceremony is held for the hero. Use whatever feels appropriate; candles, music. Gather a circle of women friends and tell them what you’re about to do. You’re pregnant and determined to go full term. Ask them to bless your commitment and the journey you’re about to take.
Ten things you need to know:
1. Make a birth plan, and be alert for signs that say you need to adjust your direction. Be prepared the possibility of shifting from a breech birth position, for long hours, days and weeks of hard labor. Be kind and compassionate to yourself and seek beauty.

2. Keep a journal of where your choices lead you. Write them stream consciousness and use colored pencils to draw any images that come up spontaneously. Borrow a phrase from one of my favorite motivational coaches, business woman and author, Danielle La Porte - What’s dying to be born? (go to www.whitehottruth.com to find the pdf file of responses she received when she asked other women that question). Ask for everything that’s holding you back to be burned away. (Healer and spiritual counselor Abdi Assadi has some wonderful ideas and a book at his web site www.abdiassadi.com ) Ask what you’re passionate about. What compels you to stay in the game? What gives you pleasure? What are you curious about?

3. Bring light to your shadows: Remember how many changes you’ve survived. You’ve faced fears before and come out alive. Since you’re going deeper, fears may hit stronger. Ask what you would do if the fear wasn’t there. Do you need it? And imagine the possibilities that are waiting once you’ve given birth to your full potential.

4. You’re in charge: No one else can do this for you. Take time for mindful solitude and meditation.

5. Pregnant women are beautiful: I remember walking down the street, noticing other women who were pregnant. They glowed with the knowledge of the life they were carrying.

6. Keep the communication lines open: Gather stories from older women about giving birth to their power. Reach out to younger women who make wonderful cheerleaders. They’ll be inspired by what you’re doing and their youthful energy is revitalizing. I know this because my daughter cheers me on. She tells me I inspire her and sometimes we cry together.

7. Disregard the naysayers: You’ve been delivering what they need and they don’t want you to rock the boat. It’s their loss if they say no to the opportunity for a more meaningful life with you.

8. Take time to wonder about what you’re giving birth to: Will you be a storm, a song, a poet, a physician, an artist, a story teller and a story catcher?

9. Purify your body with good food, rest, exercise and quiet times: You will have good days when the birthing channel is open, bad times when you’re straining and nothing seems to be happening. Some are downright ugly, when it feels as if what’s coming is in a breech position and about to tear your apart. If you feel bitchy, find the power in that.

10. Breath, take it one contraction at a time: Taking a break can be vital since it gives you time to assimilate what you’re experiencing. Knowing comes when you’ve breathed deeply through the pores right down to your center.

Perhaps, there will be additional laps to make, but you’ll know when you’re ready to call a halt. You’ll feel lighter, stronger, more daring having left behind what was holding you back. Now is the moment to tell your hero’s story to your women friends. Talk about what you’ve found and how you might nurture the newborn gifts of power you brought back. Ask for their support. Then go out and find the men who know and love crones and ask for their support.

And when all is said and done, CELEBRATE! You’ve become a woman who dares.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wounded Warriors in Nature Provide a Luminous Guidepost

Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace. – Albert Schweitzer
A good mystery takes me firmly by the hand. It pulls me forward around bends, to the top of hills and down into the shadows in the valley. Sometimes we move at such an exhilarating pace, it’s hard to catch my breath. Right now, in this chaotic and shining moment what I see is the mystery of awakening to the vibrant bounty of what Nature offers. And when I see a piece of the puzzle of that mystery falling into place I feel compelled to share it. This particular piece has to do with wounded warriors, war and the possibilities of healing themselves and the planet.
There are many ways and reasons to settle differences without going to war; solutions that allow resources to be shared to the benefit all of those involved. I can’t call myself a pacifist as I once picked up a gun, and would do so again to defend my sleeping child. (No, I didn’t shoot.) I make every effort to resolve situations non violently, even when it comes to corralling a wasp or spider in my room and escorting them outside. I do believe there were moments in history where it would have been close to impossible to do other than engage in battle. And I continue to hold those moments, those people who were involved in my prayers and meditations.
The word veteran comes from the Latin ‘vetus’ which means old. And old is what one sees in the eyes of a veteran of the killing fields. They have traveled through the ‘dark night of the soul’. They’ve been tested in ways that can never be fully understood. In today’s world, a lot more is known about treating PTSD and much remains to discover. Intriguingly, in recent years, some of the most interesting programs are centered in nature. Is it serendipitous? Or are they answering to something deeper when both humans and nature are crying out to be healed?
Ancient wisdom and mythology are full of stories about confronting and overcoming demons in nature. And each vet who has a place to wield an axe to clear brush from a wetland, plant trees and gardens, has the chance to confront his or her personal demons in a setting like no other. And nature responds.
Some vets have hooked up with other vets to start organic farms. The profits are threefold. They feel good about producing healthy food choices for themselves and others. Their confidence is renewed and a portion of their earnings pays for their PTSD therapy. Other vets have found pre-existing groups that place them in programs that help them obtain environmental and conservation related degrees while working in the field. Washington’s state funded veteran’s conservation group www.dva.wa.gov/vet_conservation_corps.html is such program. One medic, Ensign Grisham, who’d done two tours in the Middle East and was suffering from severe PTSD, said that ‘working in nature made him think for the first time that everything would be all right.’
Testing has shown that the veterans in these programs have a ways to go before being free of PTSD, anxiety and depression, but it’s also demonstrated that they’re more able to function socially and their ability to perform tasks has improved. Some vets may never fully mend. But a vital first step has been taken. Their spirits are seeking to reunite within the embrace of friends and families, with communities. In the best of cases, jobs and new enterprises are created. Nature needs them. Nature feeds them.
These men and women are a very special gift to us. They help us grow compassion. They bring mindfulness into our lives. They teach us forgiveness and empathy for the disabled and wounded that live among us and inside us. They pry open our hearts and teach us how to be vulnerable. They are our chance for leading more meaningful lives. Hand in hand with nature, they become a luminous guidepost on the path to our collective future.
Unfortunately, the funding for these kinds of programs is falling away. However, I’m not without hope for Americans are known, for their grass root services, the ingenuity of the solutions they put into place to help others. With good will and intent, through donations and or volunteering, these valuable groups will survive and flourish alongside us.
Namaste

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hunting Stories For Our Tribe

Storytellers and story catchers are hunter-gatherers, who go out in search of food for their tribe. Like the Amazonian shaman who explained the hunting ritual of his tribe, they say a prayer that expresses their intent to the Gods and Goddesses of the story telling family to send them the nourishment the tribe needs. Heart open and proceeding mindfully, they set off. Suddenly, the story jumps from where it was hiding in the bushes, as if to say, ‘take me.’
Story telling and story catching is a talent we’re all born with. Those who use storytelling actively in their lives have realized stories are how we connect soul to soul. Stories are how we face our monsters, and how we heal. They speak of love and courage, loss and heartache. They challenge and inspire us to fulfill our potential.
The garden behind our house and my father’s workbench were rich with stories. The dusty hills dotted with mesquite and Eucalyptus I roamed as a young girl gave me tales of arrowheads, snakes, coyotes and caves. The female mountain lion that understood my innocence and laid down nearby to rest for a while.
There were the concentration camp survivors who played jazz and drank vodka-laced tea in a cactus garden. Planted by an immigrant in honor of the city that had allowed him to prosper, Dante's Garden became the vessel where his hopes and dreams mingled with theirs.
There were the grandmothers and grandfathers I met in Golden Gate Park, carrying sharply pointed sticks and plastic bags they used to collect the trash and the litter. The group’s story is a legacy of compassion and caring for the community.
Stories of synchronicity are full of special grace and revisited with wonder. I was in Mexico City when I was struck down by fever, swelling and excruciating pain. After several days in the hospital, where I was poked and drained of strange fluids, the diagnosis was I would never walk again without a cane. That the aches and stabs traveling up and down my legs would be my forever companions. Released after dark, I walked out into the street, sobbing. It was rush hour, cars and buses jammed end to end. The fumes were overwhelming. Alone, with no one to call, I started walking. Still new to the city I had no real idea of how far I needed to go. Reckless and in my 20s, I’d never given much thought to how I treated my body and now the ease and agility I’d enjoyed had disappeared. Caught between grieving and self-pity, I saw an old campesino step from a darkened doorway. Barefoot, dressed in white with a frayed straw hat, he began to walk along side me. I didn’t yet speak Spanish, but I knew those soft words he murmured, the little song he sang were meant to comfort. Leaning into the support he offered as he placed a firm hand under my elbow, I felt a gentle calm begin to settle over me. We walked for what must have been an hour. When we reached my door, he nodded and disappeared back into the shadows. Later, in my bed, I vowed not accept the life sentence the doctors had handed me. That was the beginning of a longer story about personal growth and healing. And when I tell it, I always start in Mexico City when I walked in the company of an angel.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kicking the Box: Who Put the Darned Thing There Anyway?

You’ve probably heard the expression ‘think outside the box.’ A psychological kick to the lazy or fearful creative mind, it invites you to step outside and ‘wonder’ your way across new territory. Worry is a box everyone knows about.

By now, I’ve heard the expression so many times it no longer carries the fizz it once had and I'm wondering who created the darned box anyway?

I remember the first time I realized there were no perfect right angles in nature, unlike the box that needs those angles to stand strong. That made me wonder about the way houses are built; a series of boxes with right angles. And if the boxes in my life sometimes had me stymied what exactly happened when my imagination rolled up against a right angle at home? Is that why I sometimes feel as if corners contain the dregs of emotions?

I know it’s possible to be live inside a small box and travel to distant galaxies, especially if you’ve learned how to practice deep meditation, or if you're listening to a particularly inspiring piece of music. Or maybe chocolate moves you outside the box where you've been squatting.

What about love, I wonder.

Suddenly, I recall a short story from a South American author.* Two rebels who were lovers were imprisoned in a small cell. The man knew his jailers would be executing him the next morning. With the stub of a small pencil he’d been given to write a last letter, he drew instead on his lady love’s palm. Pointing to the design of a small raft, he told her, that’s my love for you. When you’re ready, step aboard and it will carry you to freedom.

The possibilities for ways to get outside the box are endless. I like the idea of imagining there is no box, no right angles to stop me.

That said, I’m going outside for a walk and leave this box behind.

* The short story was in an amazing anthology of South American writers and it's called 'The Eye of the Heart.'

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Moon Diving; Returning to Self Under the Full Moon

Recently, my Facebook friends and I found ourselves in a conversation about the poetry and the wonderful full moon photo Ed shared. It was a photo of one of those tempestuous night skies with clouds dancing around a full bright shiny orb that brought to mind restlessness, witches, and the archetypes that have haunted humankind for centuries. Gazing at the photo, I imagined an ancient ancestor under such a night sky marveling at the beauty of the full moon and then the fear that accompanied its disappearance; wondering where it had gone. The mysterious connection men made from the moon cycle to women as they swelled and then bled in their monthly cycle. For what reason, no one knew.
We all have our own moon stories, those sleepless nights when we rose from our beds and went outside to surrender to its pull. As a child growing up in Southern California, when that devilish desert wind, the Santa Ana, arrived on full moon nights I was convinced anything could happen. And there were moments when it did… when Donnie, the boy with Downs Syndrome who lived next door, went out to howl at the full moon in the middle of the night. There was the full moon night I spent in a ‘hotel’ in the Sertao; the arid desert backcountry in Northern Brazil. There were no beds; we slept in hammocks. Roused from sleep around midnight to a beautiful unearthly melody, I went to the window and saw a small statured Sertao cowboy on horseback appeared. He was holding a harp to the wind that stroked and plucked the strings as he cantered slowly across the desert and finally out of view. The next morning, the proprietor told me that the mysterious apparition I’d seen had lost his love when she died in childbirth. Monthly at the full moon he rode with his harp to the wind’s song in tribute to the beauty of their love.
I have to confess that some time passed where I neglected the moon and I’m not quite certain how that happened. I suspect it was because I was too absorbed in the superficial, worries, or the escape into sleep. The last two years have been an awakening back to nature. And it was that Facebook exchange that compelled me to seek deeper meaning in the archetypes, the lucid dreaming, and the intuition I find when I’m connecting with the moon.
Our conversation had taken a turn when we discovered that we’d all been awake for that full moon at approximately the same time – from West Coast to East Coast. Were we connecting intuitively I wondered. As friends, we share thoughts and feelings that reflect the current global mind shift, or as some have called it – the quiet revolution. And that revolutionary mindset has often sent us circling back to the elemental. In the course of my lifetime, I’ve had intense and odd encounters with owls. A night creature with extraordinary vision that flies silently, owl accompanies Artemis the huntress. Known to the Romans as Diana, she was solitary, androgynous, the patroness of childbirth, nature and living creatures. Suddenly, I was Artemis and with my owls on a journey; answering the Earth that’s calling for us to midwife a new relationship between us; one that’s giving birth to a new entity. One that nourishes and protects nature.
The other archetype that’s surfaced for me and is connected to the moon is Hecate. Originally seated at Zeus’s side, he became jealous of her power and cast her out into darkness. Personally, I think she was well off without Zeus looking over her shoulder and she knew it. Most see her as the crone, a witch even; a dangerous old woman – something I aspire to. Hecate holds up a lantern to light the paths for the night traveler; the person who seeks deeper meaning through soul work. Hecate appears when one is contemplating a new direction, which is what all of us are taking.
The road has stretches filled with potholes, and others that are smooth. We find ourselves climbing steep inclines, only to reach a peak and then roll or walk down a hill. Sometimes the wind is in our face, viciously tearing at our clothes. Others it’s at our back, gently moving us forward.
Always, as a quiet revolutionary, a mind shifter, one who’s seeking to plumb the depths and like Diana or Artemis bring back the wisdom that comes from the pain and the joy that lies within, I give thanks daily to all of those I meet along the way. Those who compel me to dive deeper into forgiveness and compassion and who rejoice with me as we look up and see the full moon has once again appeared.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Playful Subversives Needed to Plant the Seeds of Change.

Change Comes Like the Perfume of Wildflowers in the Grass -
John Steinbeck

Currently, I’m residing in a town that has an enduring sweetness despite its full share of neglected buildings, vacant lots, and youth who leave in hopes of a better future.
Today, the air is damp and the chill wind brings the stench from the three paper mills outside of town up over the top of the deck where it waits at the door. It smells like raw sewage.
But as I walk the streets, there are signs that spring is on its way. It’s visible in the glimpse of buds, the pointed leaves of the Iris and hyacinth. In the faint greenish fuzz seen when one squints at the branches of trees from a distance.
Like a subversive it rebels against winter’s authority in the hope of producing better conditions. Its invitation is seductive.
It’s said many people become more conservative as they grow older. This woman is feeling more provocative. I itch to cut loose. My mind, body and soul are teased by thoughts and ideas. Like spring, they tell me I need to find a way to incite beauty and hope.
Studies have shown that one’s environment affects one’s mood. If you’re living in a place that is falling apart, cluttered; if your rooms have dim lighting, it becomes increasingly hard not to feel tired and even hopeless. But sometimes even the smallest thing can bring a smile; a moment of beauty can lift a mood, even if only for a while. And it’s in that tiny first step in your home, in your neighborhood that change begins to happen with one person, then two and three.
What to do and how became the questions. It seemed like a good idea to work with two of the most valuable tools available - nature and playfulness. The first because it has it’s own magical healing power. It reminds us of nature’s life force. The second because if you’re going to be a rebel why not have fun?
And if a rebel for beauty and hope, then why not be a flower bandit?
No one can claim I have a green thumb; quite the opposite in almost every situation, but one. My thumb turns green under difficult conditions. In part, it may be due to the happiness I feel when thumbing my nose at the idea that something can’t be done. Or it might be because I’ve always been inspired by the sheer power and intent of nature as it pushes grass through cracks in sidewalks and tired asphalt roads.
Many years ago in London, a group of environmental guerrillas set out to change the faces of ugly neighborhoods and buildings. Concocting a solution of nutrients, natural adhesive and seeds, they loaded their green weapons – a larger version of a water gun. After dark they moved through the city spraying concrete walls. Within a few months, these unsightly edifices came alive with green vines.
This flower bandit will be planting wildflowers all over town under the cover of night and just before it rains, so the birds don’t fly off with all the seeds. This also allows me to operate without bureaucratic permission. I am a subversive after all! I’ll be planting in front of abandoned buildings, in vacant lots, alongside empty roads and alleys. With a map marking the plantings, the plan is to return when the flowers have begun to bloom. In those patches of beauty and hope will stand small signs with inspirational messages and quotes, all penned with the alias ‘The Flower Bandit.’ It’s a temporary moment in the scheme of things, planting flowers; a small one. But that’s how change often starts.

Here five tips subversives, or rebels for beauty and positive change (flower bandits), need to know:

1) When the world tells you to give up, listen to the voice that tells
you to try one more time.
2) Decorate your own community by creating pockets of beauty and hope.
Don’t wait for someone else to plant flowers.
3) Obstacles are what you see when you’re not looking toward your goal.
4) It’s easy to miss opportunity when it looks like work; flower bandits keep it
playful.
5) Put the future of beauty and hope in good hands – yours.

It’s spring, there’s no telling what will happen next once you plant the seeds of change.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Two Symptoms of the Global Mind Shift: the Happiness Plague & Anger

The sun was out yesterday morning and I wanted to celebrate, but my plan for expressing happiness in a blog post crashed after I dropped into a conversation on Facebook.
The catalyst was a remark about the recent ‘plague’ of happiness devotees; those people who are seem to be ignoring the problems we face. People who are doing nothing while jobs, homes and a viable future are lost.
I heard the bar drop. Who the hell are these people anyway? Why aren’t they angry enough to get off their duffs and do something? And who was I to be touting my own happiness in some silly superficial blog post?
Personally, I think misconceptions abound on both sides. And in a strange way, the crooked search for ecstasy whether it emerges as Pollyanna or as Dr. Doom not only takes us away from now, it’s a symptom of something greater that’s occurring – a global mind shift. And that shift is a catalyst for anger and discontent. It can be positive by energizing us to get off the sofa and take positive action. But when we act in anger we’re reacting. We’re using our lizard brain, something that’s highly visible among many members of Congress.
At the same time, the whacky happy do nothing crew isn’t too surprising, nor is it that unattractive. But true happiness doesn’t necessarily manifest as big sloppy grins. And admonishing others to ‘just be happy’ does have a fascistic element to it, especially when you’re in pain. There are times when I’m feeling joyous enough to dance around the room, or belt out a favorite song. That’s different. When I’m happy, I am content. I’m able to express compassion and forgiveness to others and to myself because I’m comfortable in body, mind and soul. As a writer, when I’m happy my thoughts are fluid and clear. My intuition as sharp as a hound dog’s nose.
I’m a veteran of anger, the emotion, the holding on; the lashing out. Anger scarred my family. It was rife in the brilliant, charming men I loved, the people I sometimes chose to work with. In my 20s, it exploded in my body as an auto-immune disease. You’ll never walk again, at least not without crutches or a cane, the doctors told me. That made me angry. I wanted to walk! I had to walk! When I’d calmed down, I was able to get creative, to explore ideas and solutions. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine gave me an answer that resonated – the source of rheumatoid arthritis is caused by resentment rooted in anger. I realized that to turn toward another or toward oneself with anger is to fan the fire. I’m pleased to say that after years of work, the knots of anger were loosened and my arthritis is in remission.
On a broader plane, it sometimes seems as if the planet is giving birth and we’re all traveling down the birth canal. A painful journey! And, like a newborn, we’re not sure what to expect when we come out. Will there be enough air to breathe? Will we find the touchstones of what once was – a home where we can feel safe, meaningful work that allows us to feed ourselves? Will there be music and dancing? Will there be art and beautiful things to see? Will our loved ones to embrace us and be embraced?
During Obama’s campaign we saw a renaissance of activism. The results haven’t always been satisfactory, to say the least. And yes, it’s exhausting to watch and read about so much that’s going south. The changes we’re hoping for and seeking haven’t yet appeared in D.C. or on Wall Street, but it’s important to remember that the Impossible can take a little while. Personally I can’t recall a time, except for the 60s, when I’ve been able to see so many people gathering together in groups small and large for positive change. These stories don’t often show up in mainstream media nor are they shared by the powers glorifying violence. They are the stories we share with one another, wherever we are, e-mail by e-mail, conversation by conversation, heart to heart.
Here are some of the stories I’ve heard. As you read them remember that according to physics, once an action is taken it doesn’t die. It may morph, flow over barriers, dive deep or move sideways, but NOTHING is ever the same.
The first story is about a young African American woman who was dying. She launched a campaign in her hometown. She jumped in a car and headed to DC followed by a caravan of cars that kept growing every time she stopped to speak in another town or city about health care. She’s since passed on but reform is only dead if we let it be. A surgeon wrote a story of healthcare reform about two towns in the Midwest. One chose to see healthcare as an investment in their future. They’re thriving while the town is suffering economically from keeping the old system of healthcare=$.
There’s the mother who’d never been an activist. After listening to a show on NPR, she acquired a microphone and stood in front of City Hall where she talked about the injustice of the Supreme Court ruling on campaign funds and the affect it would have on her little girl. Thousands rallied around her in the course of a mere two days. They’ve opened an office, solicited funds, and used the Internet to launch a movement to change that ruling.
There are wonderful stories about community gardens. Some in poor neighborhoods, others in schoolyards children plant and tend them. The harvest goes right to the cafeterias and any extra money goes into scholarship funds. There are the gardens tilled by ex-cons who are learning a skill and gaining an income. There are the veterans in Texas with PTSD who gathered together on a farm where they’re growing organic food and selling the excess for profit and to pay for therapy.
State alliances have been formed in the South, the Northeast and the West. Collectively they’re installing alternative energy and enacting legislation that supports a green future.
There’s the attractive, energetic young woman who noticed the homeless men on her morning run. Believing in their potential, she gathered food and running gear and now runs daily at the head of the pack of homeless men. These men now believe they can change their lives.
There are young billionaires who are giving away their fortunes, the business owners turning over their companies to their employees. Employees taking less pay and hours so their co-workers can stay on.
You may have heard about the children who use the Internet to raise thousands of dollars to build wells for clean water and plant trees across the planet. I see them as little Buddha’s, reincarnations of John Muir who founded our national parks system.
In a way, I’m amused that many in Congress seems blind to this take-charge grass roots movement. Maybe that’s to our advantage!
I’m not na├»ve enough to think that the discontent out there won’t erupt into violence and fiery confrontations. But if I focus on that I’ll stumble. I’ll be so full of pain and fear and anger that I’ll end up frozen or using my reptilian brain. So, I choose to work on loosening the knots of anger, to seek out those who believe like I do - that if we walk the walk in unity, others will notice. Some will even join us.
How we cross this transition is a choice. Choosing to be non violent, a peacemaker takes enormous courage, nurturing and patience. You have to stay focused and do the work.
Hunter’s have a phrase I’ve become very fond of – ‘see which hound will hunt.’ I’ve co-opted it to signify my intuition as it hunts for a sweet spot to root around in. A place where I can cut loose, explore the possibilities of what is and what might be. The Internet, Facebook and the people I’ve met through social media, have proven to be sweet spots. There I drop into conversations that show me which hound is hunting for others. Those conversations loosen the knots and heal what’s inside. They inspire me to be creative. Sometimes they leave me feeling happy. So loosen your knots, roll up your sleeves and master these tools. Maybe you’ll even give me a heads up about what you hear and learn!

p.s. thanks to Deb, Kath, Winifred and Waleska on Facebook who had no idea at all how much they inspired me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The World is Made of Stories

If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life. —Siberian Elder

For the most part, we have lost the kind of entertainment that's still found in those rare places where old and young gather and stories are told. And in these broken times in a country that feels broken, sitting down together and connecting by telling new stories and remembering old ones could help heal us.

Storytelling is now being used by corporations to redefine or shape their vision. It's found its way globally into groups seeking to create new systems of governance; into reconciliation and peacekeeping. Stories have had a renaissance with the Internet. But like the elderly man who explained to psychiatrist & activist Robert Coles (author of The Old Ones of New Mexico) why he refused to talk on the phone with his son - ‘we can’t touch.’ The palpable excitement in a children's story circle confirms that face to face, skin to skin does make a difference. But the story telling movement into more intimate situations, from families, neighborhoods and towns still has room to grow. Using story in these places will help us find new ways of thinking about ourselves. It will teach us how to listen and share what's in our hearts and minds. This ancient tradition holds the potential for a transformative process that will ultimately empower society and individuals living through the increasing uncertainty of today's world.

Whenever I hear a story begin, I'm compelled to take a deep breath inward as if preparing my heart to receive what is about to be offered. It's the anticipation of being inspired; of feeling alive. A story is a call to dream. Really hearing a story means absorbing it through the pores of your skin. Perhaps, that's why goose bumps appear. The best of stories go right down to the marrow of our bones.

My friend, photographer Pamela Barkentin recalls cozying up with her sister under a quilt in their grandmother’s bed. An award-winning playwright, she left them a legacy of being cherished through her imaginative tales of adventure in the sky and underwater.

It’s not just children who respond wholeheartedly to a good story. Years ago I took my daughter to see the story of the hero’s quest in Star Wars. It was a matinee and the house was full of screaming, wiggling children. The kind of audience I love joining. A single seat remained – the one on my left.

As the lights went down, a tattooed, bearded & pony tailed biker in leathers and massive chains bumped my shoulder as he sat down. At first glance, he wasn’t the kind of man I wanted to meet in the shadows. I said a quick prayer of gratefulness that I was seated between him and Chloe. Little did I know that my thanks would blossom two fold. The music started and George Lucas had me from Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away. As the story progressed, Moto man upped the excitement by slapping my leg every time he experienced a peak moment of satisfaction or insight. Did you see that? Did you hear that, he queried. I asked him to cease and desist. He apologized and promised not to do it again. His good intention was soon lost to wonder and joy. His enthusiasm was so irresistible, I decided to let it go. Coming out of the theater, my leg was a bit tender, but I realized that this stranger had conceptualized the proverbial Zen ‘whack on the side of the head’ the master gives to the apprentice to remind him to pay attention.

One of the strongest story telling cultures is the Aboriginal in Australia, who have no written history and conceive of the world and live their lives as story. In the words of Aborigine story teller, Bill Neidjie This story e can listen careful, an how you want to feel on your feeling. This story e coming through your body, e go right down foot and head, fingernail and blood…through the heart, and e can feel it because e’ll come right through.

Stories that renew feelings of love and hope pop up in unexpected ways and places, renewing the commitment and promises we make to our loved ones. While walking in a mud street of a small village in Bahia, Brazil, I happened upon a story of a mother's love. Visible through the open door to a concrete block house a nut brown woman sat in her rocking chair crocheting. Not a small doily, or blanket the white web that came from those care worn hands. It crossed the floor and crept up the walls, draping around windows and the door frame. Astonished, I complimented her on the intricate pattern that stretched like a lacy snow white canvas with animals, people, hills and valleys. She smiled, and told me her daughter had left a few years ago on the arm of a traveling circus man. She hadn't heard from her since, but she'd been told to start crocheting because eventually one of those threads would bring her daughter home safe and sound.

Stories ground us and invigorate the events of our days if we framing them in story terms and structure. Today, there were dragons where I walked could be a good beginning for a story. Stories make us laugh at our fears. They remind us of the deliciousness of synchronous events that appear miraculously in our lives. As a merchant marine in WWII, my father felt like a sitting duck on a ship in the middle of the Pacific with only a small deck gun for protection. Word came of a Japanese fighter squadron headed their way when out of the blue a massive fog bank magically rolled in.

Stories sometimes arrive with a precious memento, like the ring with a heart Dad fashioned out of steel for my mother during the months he was gone. When I wear that ring I recall my father- whose name became 'love' when I tell the story of how, despite excruciating pain, he continued caring for his wife who had Alzheimer’s. Stories of atonement are particularly powerful. One hears them in small rooms, in homes or in churches where members of Alcoholics Anonymous gather to practice the twelve step program which includes asking for self forgiveness and forgiveness from others. Absorbing the words and tale, then taking it to others becomes a building block to a new life.

The artist and poet, Ed Valfre describes his close friend, Joe Frank. Years before we met, I heard him tell his strange tales on public radio. They were stories you would listen to in the dark or on a long drive through the middle of nowhere. At first they made you feel isolated and alone in some godless universe, but as they went on, the humanity and humor would transport you to a place that seemed uplifting and strangely familiar. They were like no stories I had heard before and opened me up to a beautiful and mysterious world. Today, Joe and I often have lunch together and exchange ideas and stories. I always leave exhilarated, ready to live out more stories that make up my life.

And perhaps, that’s one of the best reasons of all to embrace and share stories - if your heart is open and listening you never know where your story may lead you and what you might be inspired to do.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Have You Expanded Your Mind Out Today?

Who doesn’t know of the beauty and wonder of the ordinary may as well be blind and deaf.
The Tin Man & The Selma & Dallas County Library Book Group

It’s February and one of the coldest winters on record as a group of women in their 30s to 70s gather in a circle. All but one is dressed in black and she’s an art historian who’s come from Montgomery to attend. As the women wait for everyone to gather, they argue amiably, ask after a friend who's ill, and relate tales about the hours and days of their lives. They take orders for the book they’ll read next. Last month it was The Elegance of the Hedgehog; next month the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Most have deep roots in this town that’s experienced violence and whose name made the front pages during the Civil Rights Era. Now, like so many small towns in the rural Deep South, it’s struggling with extreme poverty. But surfaces can be deceiving.

Today, The Tin Man, Charlie Lucas and the coffee table book about his ilfe and art are front and center. In his own words – he’s a toymaker. He’s also a wonderful storyteller. His narrative emerges in wild shapes, moving parts, canvases and rusty metal strips. A handsome dark skinned man born on a sharecropper’s farm, he’s had his share of hardship, but the mischievous glint in his eyes reveal a man who knows how to mine pain for joy.

Raised with 14 siblings he left school in 4th grade and ran away at 14. Following a serious back injury in 1984, he returned home. It would take a long time to heal. There would be no turning back to the work he’d been doing, cotton picking, unloading freight and construction. With ten dollars in his pocket and no visible answers for the future, Charlie prayed for a vision. I asked God to talk to me like he’d never talked before, to slow me down.

Not only did he receive a look at what the future held for him and his family, he saw his work would take him around the world. Already known as a bit crazy, Charlie had his kids write down what he’d seen. I needed something of substance to prove my vision was real. He had neighbors; family and friends witness it by signing those papers. When he showed them to his father, his father spit in his face.

Descended from several generations of metal men who knew how to fix things, as a boy, Charlie made toys for himself and the other kids who worked in the fields. During his recovery, bits and pieces of trash and scrap from sidewalks and junkyards found their way to his studio. They came because ‘they spoke to me.’ And before too long, the living images in his mind and his dreams spilled out of his house and into the garden. Each animal, each bird, each creature, the elderly aunts, friends, old quilts wrapped around carved table legs - each comes with a story. He hears music in them. They tell him their names. And each is signed The Tin Man, because ten dollars is all he had in his pocket when he started out.
‘Art expands you out.’ Each time Charlie sees something different he’s ‘expanded out.’ Seeing with fresh eyes happens through play. When I’m working I’m playing and when you’re playing the mind is free.

The conversation in the circle takes a turn to ‘what is art’ and ‘who is an artist.’ More than one of these ladies has accompanied Charlie dumpster diving to retrieve bits and pieces they shaped by their own vision. Charlie believes lies beyond the traditional interpretations. Being an artist and creating art has to do with how you live your life. We’re all artists.

You have to pay attention or you lose it! What you see in that fleeting moment, that idea, that image is precious. As artists creating our lives, a change in how you see sometimes means taking the side road or a footpath to take, as Robert Frost wrote ‘the road less traveled.’ Dali once suggested to a friend that to really see differently, she should spend the day walking around with her left shoe on her right foot and vice versa - a simple, and likely torturous path for the feet.

According to Ovid if a hook is always cast, in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish. Whether it’s a broken hose, a weathered pine board, the sound of rain on the roof, a colorful snatch of fabric, there’s magic in the ordinary. It seeks to speak to us. We have only to look and listen.
Sometimes it’s found in a book group.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Perfect Date for Valentine's Day

For the last few years, Valentine’s Day has been just another day for me simply because I wasn’t in a deep relationship with a man.

In Plato’s Symposium, the voice of Aristophanes relates that humans were once a combination of male and female, until Zeus split them apart. From that point on, the two halves searched for each other, seeking wholeness.
Looking back at two marriages and another long term relationship without marriage, I realized that the ‘wholeness’ I’d first encountered - the joining of me and my perfect partner - was based on unconscious needs rooted in old patterns and habits I had yet to be free of. Things that were holding me back.

My friend and spiritual counselor Abdi Assadi ( ) believes that loving relationships offer us the greatest opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. What struck me as I read his take on how relationships function that the same holds true for the individual. The way my conscious and my unconscious connect has everything to do with how I love myself, and whether my behavior is authentic; true to my inner Self.

“When we enter into relationship with someone, there is a conscious interaction and an unconscious agreement. The conscious part is what we are aware of—such as a physical attraction or a sense of social compatibility.
The unconscious level, as the name implies, is what is going on underneath. It is here that things become tricky because the unconscious, contrary to what we sometimes like to believe, is not our inner truth-teller. In fact, it is where most of our distortions and addictions first formed.

It is common for us to unconsciously keep in play or repeat certain deeply ingrained patterns that we are attempting to break free from. This is a way of pushing away the underlying anxiety when we are in a new terrain, no matter how healthy.”

About a year and six months ago, I consciously chose to begin the work of letting go. The force behind that first step was surprisingly powerful.


It began on an August morning at about three a.m.
In the darkness, a voice yelled through the window at the head of my bed – Attention. Wake up!
Trembling, I got up to look outside, but before I could circumvent my bedside table to reach the window, the same voice called out from the patio on the other side of the house. Attention! Wake up!
Not only were my neighbors gone for the summer, it was physically impossible for someone to run that distance unless they knew how to fly over fences and hedges and along a paved driveway. Other than the voice, there was no sound of running footsteps, no mangled bushes or vines and no one was visible.
The next day, I called a Shaman friend about what had happened. He laughed. “Don’t think the message could be any clearer!” Okay, I thought, paying attention, being awake is a good idea to apply to one’s daily life, but I couldn’t help thinking that the voice was telling me to be ready for something more.
Two months later, I attended a sweat lodge at Dave’s rural home overlooking the Potomac River. Three of us were there, Dave and a man who was moving away and had requested a ceremony for protection and new beginnings. I had volunteered to be the fire keeper, the person who tends the fire that heats the stones for the lodge and carries them in when called for.
About midway through the Inipi ceremony, sitting on a tree stump perch, I closed my eyes. An owl called from the treetops. Owls have been my spirit guides for many years. Extraordinary hunters with keen night vision, owls and I have had numerous eerie encounters. For me they are symbols of the wisdom that rises up from within. As the owl disappeared, I asked for a sign or a name for this next phase of my life – the crone years. An icon, a symbol of some sort.

Suddenly a voice spoke clearly from over my shoulder. Sarawati…. Sarabata. I hadn’t the vaguest idea what those words meant, much less what language they were. The next morning, I was reading a book I’d grabbed from a store on my way up. Written by Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian analyst I’d heard of but never read, it was called ‘Goddesses in Older Women: Becoming a Juicy Crone.’ In one of the chapters she mentioned the goddess Saraswati, who was also called Sarabata.

According to some stories, Saraswati was first seen by Shiva as the perfect wave – the Becoming. He transformed her into a goddess; the goddess of learning and knowledge. The mother to the vedas, she's recognized in Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism as well. And in the Spring in India pujas are held to ask Saraswti's blessing for the education of children. As a mother, I particularly loved that idea! As a crone, I appreciated the rapt attention of a child with new ideas.

That perfect wave, 'the becoming' was a fitting image for what I'd asked for, and she suited me down to the ground. Multi-armed, Saraswati holds the vedas in one hand, a sitar in another: Wisdom and music. Having been a musician for many years, I was aware of the healing power of music for myself and others. It's a powerful tool for meditation and opening the chakras.

A week later, as I was describing the event on the telephone to a ‘sister’, I was shocked to see a hand reach into a hole in my belly where my intestines were glowing a bright orange yellow. How curious I thought as I watched the hand grab hold of my inner workings and turn clockwise. I was at once, an observer and in the middle of the kind of zone athletes speak of. Distance was irrelevant. I was both here and there.

As I began to speak about my desire to find a way to help children and mothers, a piercing ray of light flashed before my eyes as it entered my heart. At that point, my knees gave way. At that point, I said goodbye and slumped into a chair. For several days after, I felt occasional bouts of queasiness, which I'm told is common to the release of energy in the chakras.

I'm sure there are many who could describe their own experiences of becoming; tales of powerful awakenings. My initiation onto this path of cronehood was dramatic for me, but for the most part, I'm walking, not running through my days! The labyrinth of the mind is twisted! There are moments of illumination, but work with ego and old patterns I believed protected me is never easy. Time and again I find myself responding in old ways. The difference now - I sometimes manage to catch myself in the act, or at least recognize what's going on before things have gone too far. And each time an old pattern comes up I welcome this slight repositioning.

I still wrestle with the same fears. Can I do this? Who am I to think I can write? And of what importance are these stories to others... How can I create a safe place that calls for others to share theirs with me.

Oddly, I seem to be channeling Jean Shinoda Bolen when it comes not only to my initiation but to my underlying purpose. Returning to research what she'd written while preparing this post I came across her book "The Millionth Circle. I highly recommend it. Having defined the third wave of feminism as spiritual, it's synchronous with the growing desire to heal the planet (and ourselves). It's also meshes with the upward surge of women moving into positions of power. An energy shift that's coming up against fundamentalism both in the US and globally.

In The Millionth Circle, Bolen sets out to teach other women how to create circles of spiritual healing. She also refers to two people I've admired for years. Margaret Mead who once wrote Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citzens can change the world - it's the only thing that can. In the safe sanctuary of the circle is where change begins.

The second person Bolen is someone whose work I've also studied. Rupert Sheldrake, the theoretical biologist explains in his Morphic Field Theory - Change in the behavior of a species occurs when a critical mass - the exact number needed - is reached. When that happens, the behavior or habits of the entire species changes.
The crones who dare (and exceptional men who respect and enjoy them) are joining together to reach those critical numbers.

In the meantime, Valentine’s Day is almost here, and I have the perfect date. I’m going to write, meditate; take a walk if it’s sunny. And while I do, I plan to set my ego aside, to ask for Saraswati’s blessings on the pleasures of being the juiciest of crones – the perfect date.

p.s. I'm going to be posting more often and the next few will cover more about the different kinds of love, and about the awakenings that are occurring in the US and around the globe.

Namaste

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Power in Silence

There is much about physics that intrigues me, and much about it I may never understand. But I have seen silent energy manifest in many ways. Spoon bending, telekinesis caused by a woman's anger which sent a glass covered photo in a heavy picture frame across a room where it shattered against a wall. It was a good thing her husband, the target of her anger, wasn't there at the time.

I've felt the incredible warmth of healing hands and watched a young woman bend a laser beam. A man I knew stopped the atomic clock three times, sending scientists racing from the room in tears. The clock was buried underground in a lead walled container. Ingo stopped it by his intent.

My daughter's great-grandmother on her father's side never tired of telling the story of a man in Rio De Janeiro who people were wary of inviting to their homes. If there were any plants inside when he visited, they were dead by the time he left. He professed to love greenery, but his touch said something different.

All those things can seem pretty spectacular, but what interests me more is the silent energy that comes from one person focused on love and forgiveness.
The Dalai Lama spoke of a wonderful breathing meditation - on the breath inward, cherish yourself. On the breath outward, cherish others. It's something he practices daily toward the Chinese. Okay, you might say that there's been no positive change in relations between China and Tibet, despite the forgiveness and loving energy the Dalai Lama is sending out. Perhaps, friendship between these two countries is not to be in this lifetime.

However, what if that energy he's sending out is affecting both sides in ways we have only begun to glimpse. The Chinese with their very slow evolution in regards to global warming which they fear and could be interpreted in part as respect for nature. Notice,I didn't say loving kindness for nature, but they may come to that.

Perhaps, the Tibetans were meant to travel to places like the United States and elsewhere so that their wisdom could support all the amazing awakenings that are occurring here. Of course, I'm no expert on these things, especially politically, and already I can hear a chorus of voices objecting to my naivete. I'm not looking for their approval. I'm just another pilgrim on an adventure that includes exploring what happens when I open myself to livingness, to making connections, silently. Connections that are changing who I am and the way I interact with myself nd others.

I believe it was Deepak Chopra who wrote something I stumbled upon during one of my morning inspirational reading sessions. It seemed like such an intriguing idea that I decided to experiment and see what the outcome would be. The instructions were to make eye contact and remain silent while repeating Namaste - the Divine in me salutes the Divine in You - to every person I passed in the street. Of course, this only works if you believe that each individual holds what I call the Divine within. Granted, it may be under deep cover. (I can personally attest to that.)

Entering the stream of pedestrians, I encountered a broad spectrum of expressions, from the remote, to sadness, to anger and even a few smiles. From a distance of twenty feet, I made eye contact while silently repeating Namaste. The Divine in Me Salutes the Divine in You By the time I was in close proximity, there was a visible change. Every single person either smiled or nodded. I felt that somehow I was being greeted in return. I felt an energy shift in my solar plexus, a feeling of lightness. I felt confident and relaxed at the same time.

I'm not entirely sure what who passed by felt. Nor do I know what happened as they moved through the rest of their day. I'd like to think that they carried the residual of our contact with them and 'paid it forward.' After all, any physicist will tell you - energy doesn't cease to exist... sometimes we move energy consciously, sometimes not.

What I do know, is - silence has its own presence which holds the potential for connection.

Namaste.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An Older Woman Who Dares

An older woman who dares

Is eager to explore the unknown.
Owns everything she’s been and done.
Wields her sword with force and compassion.
Keeps her promises.
Tithes with her unique gifts.
Has lost the cares of youth.
Loves with the experience of her years.
Has honed her priorities.
Knows when to keep going and when to stop.
Is deeply connected to her intuition.
Makes heads turn with the radiance of her true beauty.
Knows when not to accept the status quo.
Doesn’t fear death – and has creative ideas about how to die.
Knows when to forgive and does it with soul full elegance.
Howls at the moon, at fear and fools.
Knows it’s sometimes important to lick her wounds.
Takes out the trash that accumulates in the mind and the body.
Enjoys the delicious decadence of sleeping in the afternoon.
Refuses to be rigid.