Change Is Good

Preparing to make (yet another) Big Move is a daunting experience.  Cleaning house, staging for showings, vacating the premises with my pet family, waiting. A rental house is already waiting at my next destination, with deposit and first month’s rent paid.

Lessons abound:  accepting change, having faith in my own reasons for making this move; that everything will be okay, that I can be of service and will enjoy my and my pets’ new lifestyle in the once beloved hometown I am returning to after nearly 48 years.

I am learning about trust, about patience, and about graceful acceptance of change. At every turn, I find reinforcement and support through kind words of friends and family and even relative strangers I meet along the way.  “Change Is Good!” is the affirmation I have arrived at that is helping me after months of preparations, searching and missteps to break through to the new departure.

Under one month now and the movers will arrive to move the furniture. Two prospective buyers at my current house though as yet no contract; hopefully this next week will bring one or both forward.

Making this move during a global pandemic has its own stresses and uncertainties.  I find I am learning more and more to rely on my inner guidance.

For example, around a week ago, worried about not having a solid offer on the house yet, I asked inwardly for a sign that I was taking the right steps. I asked to see pink flamingos; not a common site here in the Finger Lakes.  Just when I thought I would not see any, suddenly for the next evening and the following morning, whole flocks of pink flamingos seemed to show up everywhere! Twice on tv, and on lawns I drove past, pink flamingos were abundant, then after I gratefully accepted the gift, I have not seen any since.

Yes, Agree, Allow, Positive, Thumbs Up

“Everything will work out,” family and even a stranger have been stating outright to me; not in response to anything I had been talking about, but basically “out of the blue.” My sister-in-law, whom I do not often hear from directly, texts me that “It will be alright about the house and even if it doesn’t (work out immediately as you’re hoping for), it will still be all right.”

And it will be all right. I have taken the leap of faith to pay a deposit and first month’s rent, and with that decisive movement forward everything seems to be flowing in a positive direction.

But let me bridge to a more general discussion about how “Change Is Good” on a collective level rather than just in my personal life, and how listening for and acting in response to Inner Guidance can help us move forward as needed.

Avatars, Woman, Man, People, Female
images are from pixabay.com

Recently I was at a car repair place having my car’s oil changed and all systems checked before the Big Move. I wore my mask and went early. A man entered with his wife, daughter, and their dog, decidedly and it seemed defiantly choosing not to mask; this on the very day an American president had been diagnosed with the pandemic virus.

I walked decidedly out of the business, into the safe, fresh air. While sitting outside to wait on a bench, the unmasked man came out and walked right over to where I was sitting. Still unmasked, he coughed at me then went back indoors!

People are so stressed these days, and society has become divided along political or ideological edges.  We cannot account for anybody else’s behavior, but we can hold true to our own values. Certainly in times like these, Change can be Good!  I truly hope we can find our way forward, individually and together, to a more balanced, compassionate and mutually caring future.

Deer Vision II: A Parable

Stag, Wildflower, Floral, Boho, Flower

I find myself hesitant to post much at all during these times. I want to be positive and encouraging with this blog, and that is not always easy. I do not want to be merely Pollyannish but do want to contribute positive or at least neutral, inspiring messages as far as possible.

So let me relate a recent experience and look for its positive message. My dog Sophie and I were walking on a remote road nearby that bypasses a local cemetery. Inside the mostly fenced cemetery was a young deer. His mother was on the other side of the fence but the youngling did not yet know how to jump over the fence to join his mother. I decided to try to help. I walked with Sophie in a wide arc around and behind the youngling, hoping to urge it to move toward the open fence entry. At first the deer approached me and stared deeply at me, maybe thinking I might be his mother. But he recoiled in fear when he realized I was not a deer. Instead of allowing me to ‘herd’ him forth to am opening, the youngling panicked and threw his body sideways at the fence trying to get through but crash landing two or three times. Fearing he would hurt himself, I retreated slowly with Sophie back to the opening. Continuing our walk I called the sheriff because the animal control center was closed, and described the situation so they might be able to assist the young deer. But by t he time Sophie and I had looped back on our walk to the cemetery again, the deer was gone so I called off the sheriff. Probably the deer’s mother had come in and retrieved her youngling by leading it around to another opening in the fence.

Deer, Animal, Lovely, Baby, Nature

Several months back I blogged a piece called “Deer Vision,” about aiming to avoid hitting deer on the roads around here but also about assuming the sort of vision these beautiful, sweet white-tailed denizens of the woods around here have. They carry such positive energy, such loving and playful energy.

So what was my message from the experience at the cemetery as a waking dream? I believe it comes down to a simple postulate:

“Do No Harm.”

In trying to help the youngling, I was Quixotic in my quest; I did more harm than good. Nature takes care of Herself.  By interfering with the natural order of things, I put the youngling in danger of hurting himself.  I take this as a general message. Instead of trying to “fix” situations or beliefs or practices that I might think could ‘trap’ people into less than desirable positions (from my limited vantage point), I should avoiding acting in such manner as could cause strong reactions that could do more harm than good.

images are from pixabay.com

I do not want my vehicle (including this blog) to do harm. That is why it is important for me to try to remain neutral no matter what is happening in society or the world, wishing only the highest good for all in the bigger picture of life unfolding as it may for the better interests of all concerned, which often is beyond my human vision.

May the Blessings Be!

A Golden Thread?

Maze, Graphic, Render, Labyrinth, Design

As I reflect on how many states are now again recently declining after major spikes of covid19 cases, it appears this is due to an increased emphasis on masking and social distancing in the national media and governing actions this past month.  I say this as a New Yorker, who has witnessed the dramatic effect these measures have had in our state over time.  For all of the hardships and trauma the pandemic has wrought and continues to wreak upon individuals, families, schools and businesses, I see here yet a golden opportunity.

IFF, or perhaps by the degree to which this dire threat to human wellness and basic survival can be approached collectively by people uniting and agreeing to step up to protect themselves and one another by masking, social distancing, testing, staying home especially if feeling not well, and disinfecting, we then CAN reach the other side of this mountain, together.  We can bring down the scourge to a much more manageable level while yet awaiting effective vaccines and treatments.

The opportunity I am recognizing here is that we can UNITE to face our common enemy; then this era could serve to help us advance spiritually as a whole.

There is a golden thread that we can follow–like Theseus in the realm of the Minotaur–to re-emerge from the perilous labyrinth we are in.

Contemplation, Woman, Meditation, Sun

The interwoven triad of awareness-responsibility-freedom means that when we act responsibly on the basis of our highest awareness (e.g. responsive to scientific data and medical as well as spiritual guidance), then we can discover our measure of freedom within a given range of experience.

Your freedom ends where another’s begins.”

(Sri Harold Klemp, spiritual leader of Eckankar)

I have the freedom to be in a public space, of course, but I need to act responsibly in that arena on the basis of my own and collective awareness. So, I always carry a mask and put it on whenever other people are present especially within six feet (I try to at least double that myself when I can).  Acting responsibly means looking out for the other person’s freedom in the process of expressing my own.

If we can learn this deep lesson we can emerge from this pandemic stronger and healthier as a global species than we have recently been. We can be more united, more caring, more whole.

Woman, Walking, Dog, Leash, Leg, Foot

But yesterday I had an experience that brings me to add a caviat with regard to this optimistic hope.  I was walking with Sophie (my Shorkie girl) at a lakeside park nearby. We walked along a sidewalk on the perimeter of the park. Usually we would have walked along a path next to the lake itself, but no one was masking except me so I did not feel safe there. Honestly I became perturbed as I realized the park had lots of people organized in couples and small family clumps, walking amongst and past one another freely, but no one was wearing a mask. A woman with two children came along on the perimeter walk and crossed my and Sophie’s path at close quarters to get to her car, no masks. I involuntarily let loose verbally at her:

“Why isn’t anybody wearing a mask?” I asked.

“Go Home,” was her swift as if well practiced reply.

I was miffed, but of course I also felt chagrined and mad at myself for my angry outburst in front of this mother and her two little daughters. “Go Home,” indeed!  What was she saying? That as someone who masks I am not welcome in open public spaces? That non-maskers have claimed this park as their own?

Monalisa, Mona Lisa, Mask, Painting

images are from pixabay.com

I am actually preparing for a move back to my hometown from high school days. Visiting recently while searching for a new home there, people are masking in that slightly more populous town.  So, maybe my harsh encounter with this mother was a waking dream or “golden tongued wisdom;” confirmation that I do not belong where I am currently living so that I should in fact Go Home.  As well, spiritually Home is beyond this physical plane altogether, so maybe she was reminding me to maintain a higher awareness so as not to be perturbed by the course illusional states of this lower plane arena.

Responsibility is the key word of the triad of Awareness-Responsibility-Freedom at least insofar as living in a society is concerned.  For myself, I aim to act in a manner that serves the Whole, not just my own selfish immediate interests. 

We have an opportunity to grow and we might even begin to heal our divisions by respecting one another (my lesson in this encounter) and, yes, by wearing a mask in public spaces during a global pandemic.

Masked Messages

This summer semester as I have been teaching Anthropology remotely online, I have held Microsoft Teams (like Zoom) weekly sessions with students. This past 8 weeks we have been developing a discussion about the emerging cultural messages associated with masking and not masking in the U.S.. The following is my final week announcement to the students about the results of their observations over the semester. Then I have added some of their specific observations below that.

Man, Mask, Blue Eyes, Hand, Mystery

Some of your (students’) key findings:

that women are tending to mask more than men; that masking matters (e.g. spikes have occurred after the Tulsa campaign rally and other mass gatherings); in Colorado Springs students observed more people 30’s to 50’s not masking; that not masking can be a rebellious statement (claiming civil liberties); that whether or not to mask can be confusing due to mixed messages and ambivalent leadership; and that masking is generally perceived as caring and protective as versus not.

I observe that masking has quickly developed a cultural patterning: it adheres to partisan and other divides and becomes a marker of identity when used to draw attention to itself (either to a specific kind of mask–e.g. a fishnet mask observed at a gym, and Black Lives Matter masks) or to not wearing in situations where it is clearly mandated.  WHY has masking, a basic public health measure, become such a cultural phenomenon in America? It mirrors social segmentation and masking behavior may also reveal subtle issues around FACE: e.g. ‘losing face’ or feeling emasculated–nice pun!–when masking  esp. for men; losing a display of individual identity; concern with being perceived as criminal or threatening; though masking can also be associated with superheroes, e.g. caregivers!

Some specific observations:

  • A woman repeatedly attending a gym that has a sign requiring masks, wearing a fishnet mask as a form of defiance.
  • A Chase bank in Seattle with a sign outside stating Blacks do not need to wear a mask (purportedly to defray profiling but isn’t it actually profiling so that security cameras can see Black clients’ faces?)
  • A bus driver bludgeoned with a baseball bat in San Diego, CA for being asked to wear a mask
  • Parents rewarding their 6 yo child for always masking
  • More women masking than men (do men have issues around ‘demasculating’—pun intended?)
  • More 30’s to 50’s year old not masking
  • A student of color sharing that his friends and he are afraid to mask because they fear white people might perceive them as not smiling and therefore threatening
  • Political partisanship showing in degree of masking compliance (more democrats) or not (more republicans)
  • Confusion generally about the effectiveness or need to mask due to ambivalent media statements and ineffective national or state level leadership (versus e.g. in New York state, with strong science based leadership and effective response).
  • Art, Mask, Head, Human, Psyche

 images are from pixabay.com

In a diverse, complex society like the U.S. today, the covid19 pandemic has struck at a vital weakness in the divisive political and social climate here.

We can use masking to declare our CARE for ourselves and for one another.  Not masking can be a dangerous form of protest and may be perceived as a selfish lack of concern for others’ wellbeing.

To build bridges for Better Endings, it helps to talk with one another and to stand up for positive messaging.

A Smile to Bridge Troubled Waters

Bridging The Racial Divide

Black And White, Baby, Boy, Kid, Child

When I was in tenth grade in high school in 1970, my progressive English teacher engaged all of his “lily white” suburban area students with a half a year of Black Renaissance literature. I loved it! This material opened me to a new world of awareness, especially about racial inequalities and diverse voices.  Our book Black Voices  included the following poem that I have never forgotten:

The Incident
by Countee Cullen (1903-1946)

Once riding in old Baltimore,
    Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
    Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
    And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
    His tongue, and called me, “Nigger.”

I saw the whole of Baltimore
    From May until December:
Of all the things that happened there
    That’s all that I remember.

 

This poem by Countee Cullen has been with me since tenth grade and now, with the Black Lives Matter movement still needing to draw attention to persistent racial inequalities in America, it has resurfaced in my own, shall I say, racial memory.  I have had a counter sort of experience I like to share.

Bus Stop, Waiting, Bus, Public Transport

Around 1978 I was living in Buffalo, New York while in graduate school.  I used the bus system to get around in the city, and one night I was in inner city Buffalo near midnight, waiting for a bus connection at around 11:30 PM, the last bus of the night. I was returning to my apartment across town from an activity at the spiritual center I was involved with.

The bus stop was just outside from a bar. While I stood waiting for what would be around 20 minutes there at the bus stop, a man wobbled out from the bar and approached me. I could smell from his breath that he was quite tipsy. He happened to be black, maybe in his mid-thirties or so.

grayscale photography of jacket

“My name is Freddy,” the man said as he approached. “That is my car right there at the curb.” He continued: “I bet you think I’m gonna grab you by the arm ‘n drag you over there to my car and take you away and rape you.”

“No, I do not think that, Freddy,” was the answer that emerged from my mouth, much more calm and confident than I actually was beginning to feel about the situation.

“Well I could, you know. All I need to do is grab you and take you over there,” Freddy continued.

“My name is Linda. Do you live around here?” I asked (or something of this nature). I started asking about Freddy’s family, if he was married and how many kids he had.  He reciprocated and asked me about my life. I told him I was a college student waiting for the last bus home and that I had just come from my spiritual center across town.

We talked for a few minutes. Then Freddy said:

“I’m gonna stand right here and wait with you until the bus comes ‘n I’ll make sure nobody does anything to harm you.”

Freddy and I continued to talk for another fifteen minutes or so, then the bus arrived. I thanked him and we shook hands, then I boarded the bus and went home to my apartment across town.

Architecture, Building, Infrastructure

images are from pixabay.com

This encounter with Freddy has shaped a lot of my understanding about race relations.  I feel that so long as we see one another through the lens of stereotypes—helpless white female, drunk inner city Black man—we are likely to interact according to these stereotypes. But as soon as we connect with each other as individuals, as Soul=Soul, the stereotypes dissolve and we can see and hear one another for who we are.

So here is a Better Endings slight revision of the same Countee Cullen poem, The Incident:

Once riding in old Baltimore,
    Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
    Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
    And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, and he looked twice,
   and smiled back just as nice.

I saw the whole of Baltimore
    From May until December:
Of all the things that happened there
    That’s all that I remember.

 

Such a small shift in wording, a smile returned for a smile.

Is that so very much to ask of ourselves?

The Out-of-Doors Time, A Retrospective

There was a time, so long ago that by now many of our greatest scientists question if it was ever more than a parallel reality, when we did not live entirely indoors.  Our social fabric included “stores”: places people walked through to shop for their food and supplies; and physical spaces called “classrooms” and large university campuses where our chidren learned from actual people called “teachers” and where young ones interacted with one another in actual physical locations and events called “playgrounds,”  “summer camps,” and “Spring breaks.”

Back then there were many social ills, such as “racism” and “gender-based sexism.” That is way back in our primitive history, when we did not communicate wholly through our neutrally assigned avatars.

We had families resulting from the random vagaries of biological sexual reproduction rather than from our well controlled allocation of techno-genetic offspring we so value today.

Can you imagine?  We walked unruly pets in outdoor settings called “woods” and “neighborhoods.”  We risked all sorts of debilitating physical ailments: sunburns, aching joints,germs and viruses, and aging. That is before, of course, when we were a fully biological species.

girl's black and white collared shirt

Such absurd sounding history–and this is but a glimmering–is still preserved in nano-implants you can purchase only if you are eligible to harbor such restricted knowledge.

images are from pixabay.com

Such an alternate reality which we are so grateful to have transcended streches back to a time when our ancestors eked out their survival on a fragile little blue planet called “Earth.”

The Color of Love

A friend recently posted a prompt for her writing group after sharing a picture of military humvees in DC.  She asked, “What is the color of love?”

Here is my my meager response:

The Color of Love

Love is green: a walk in verdant woods, freshly mown grass;

Love is yellow: Sun’s golden rays, wedding rings;

Love is blue: clear sky vistas, soulful music;

Love is also red: beating hearts, lifeblood;

 

 

Love is lavendar: lilac blooms, early sunrise hopes;

Love is black: solace in the darkness, night before dawn.

Love is white: hospital care, a blank page.

images are from pixabay.com

Love is all the colors of the spectrum:

Unity in diversity, melodic harmony, joy.

Love is Light, and Sound; the very essence of Life:

Divine Breath, all the hues and call

of Creation.

Stranger than Fiction?

Are we in a collective, shared and co-created fantasy we call Reality?  Actually there are contemporary physicists who have argued our apparent physical, three-dimensional reality is a holographic projection from the event horizon of a black (or, white) hole. I know, that is mind-stretching to the point we cannot comprehend with our pithy human brains just what that means. But as we deal with a global pandemic and racial rage and mob violence in our streets, our collective story right now does seem to have become rather fantastical.

Panicked woman wearing a face mask against covid-19, she is scared and stressed

Lately I have been watching (and am recording as I write) the film Stranger Than Fiction. I have blogged about it before. The story is about Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) as a tax auditor who comes to realize he is a character in a narrated story about his life, being narrated by an author with writer’s block (Emma Thompson) who always kills her protagonists. A literary professor (Dustin Hoffman) asks Harold to try to figure out if his life story is a comedy or tragic.

The matrix of this movie script leads me to ask what is my own life about and on a bigger canvas, yours; all our lives?

If we look at our current chapter or act or scene as scripted, what is the narrative purpose of the pandemic, the character motivations of the patients and politicians, the doctors and scientists, and people either staying home, risking all to go to work and provide care and service, activists and anarchists, and our neighbors whom we hardly get to see any more? Since not as much as a word is ever wasted in good writing, why is all this occurring, how might it end or develop as a plotline, and what lessons might we all gain if this is—as I expect that it is—composed as a transformational story?

To scale down such a wild hair set of questions born no doubt of my own self-sheltering thought formations, what am I/ are you learning through the challenges and ordeals we are facing?

I am learning to pay greater attention to my dreams and inner guidance.  In fact this ‘time out’ has brought me to a revolutionary, transformative quantum leap moment for turning a page of my own life’s tale: I intend to make yet another Big Move by December or January. Quite to the honoring of epic mythic structure, I am going Home—moving back to the one and only true hometown I have known in this life—where I attended high school and worked for early college summers. Now two hours from my current location, I am feeling inwardly, deeply called to return to my hometown community, at least for awhile.

Maybe my character is seeking an anchor in these decidedly unmoored times. Even though only one of my high school friends—my best high school friend, in fact—is still there, the place itself, a village that is generally a quiet, sleeper community until it becomes an artistic and musical resort town over the summers due to its dynamic performing arts center, is Herself a familiar friend I have always kept tethered to in my heart, a hearth-stone to all of my travels.

images are gratefully from pixabay.com

What about you?  What momentous or meaningful ideas are occurring that could help propel you in your character arc to enact transformational growth or change?  With the time you have for deep reflection—or from the stress you are facing—what fantastical leaps of faith might you be preparing to embark upon?

This is a meaningful passage, ripe for epiphanies.  As such, I am grateful for the gifts that it brings. It is not so much what happens in the world but how we respond to what happens that matters most in our own life story; in this way we are the authors and editors; rather than being merely acted upon, we are agents of self-change.

Sit Still and DO!

Sheltering in place has its opportunities as well as challenges.  On the down side, over time staying home can seem isolating and lonely.  Then it may feel draining.  Time drones on, days and weeks go by with little advancement but for provisioning and maintaining basic contacts by phone and social media.  But on the up side, there are golden opportunities: for solitude and inner processing, and for Doing.

“Sit still and do something” (Paul Twitchell, Stranger By the River) is a Zenlike koan of sorts: a spiritual nugget or seed.  In that context it can mean to be active even while sitting for deep contemplation. Explore your inner cosmos, reflect on life’s lessons, unfold in wisdom and awareness.  But now this phrase can also mean, for me, stay home and yet find ways to be of service to others and to the Whole.

Many of us are fortunate during the current pandemic to have social media and readily available technology.  With these we can communicate by phone or through our computers and other devices; email, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Facebook, Google generally and online learning platforms allow us to expand our connections while staying home to provide safety for ourselves and our families.

There is a lot of Doing possible, day by day. For myself I continue to teach online and to write. I attend spiritual discussions online and have learned how to conduct Zoom meetings.    I am helping an elder friend get groceries by adding her items to my Instacart orders. I have also helped send out some positive messages for the general public through placing local Pennysaver ads with my spiritual group that offer online public discussions.

I am finding that, when I can sleep, I am often dreaming deeply, and when I contemplate, that too is  very revealing and helpful. I often go to bed with questions or concerns and wake with answers.

images are from pixabay.com

I do wonder what will result socially after all this staying home and social distancing becomes less necessary.  Are we changing as a society overall to an even more atomistic, socially fragmented population?  Or will we emerge as from a chrysalis, with greater appreciation and gratitude for human and natural connection? Time will tell, but I sense we can benefit greatly if we simply choose to  Sit Still and DO!

The Cultural Meaning of Masking

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As an anthropological linguist, I have been noticing how so few Americans, at least in my local area, are comfortable wearing a mask in public. Despite our state governor Cuomo’s executive order requiring all to wear masks or cloth facial coverings “in public,” in my semi-rural neighborhood and wider small city community few except essential workers who are assigned masks are actually wearing them, to the potential detriment of the whole population. Most instead are relying on “social distancing” by a six foot margin; that behavior is not uncomfortable, at least between strangers.

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I recognize this noncompliant behavior may have to do in part with the “cultural markedness” of masking. Since normally the average person would not wear a mask in public, then wearing one is “marked,” i.e. noticeably different. Further, we have negative cultural associations with people who wear masks: they might be hiding something or they could have criminal or “shady” intentions.  People who wear a mask have something to hide, we may unconsciously believe; they are being deceptive or pretending to be someone or something other than whom they really are.

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Now superheroes are the notable exceptions to our negative masking semantics. “Who was that masked man?” we asked after the Lone Ranger or Spiderman or Batman, for example, had saved the day. Superheroes mask because they are selfless, serving the common Good.

In these days of our confrontation with a deadly villainous global pandemic, to wear a mask is to protect not only yourself but everyone you interact with. Still many feel uncomfortable so they choose not to comply.

We need to establish a “markedness reversal;” to reframe the very meaning now of wearing a mask.

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Wearing a mask in public is a demonstration of humility and caring, of respect for others, of service to the common Good.  None of us knows (unless recently tested) if we have been infected. We might be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, and if so, we could be spreading the infection unknowingly.

Be a selfless Superhero!  Wear a mask in public.  You can know privately that when you do so, you are serving the common Good.

When you see someone else masking as you do, give a thumbs up! I would say smile, but of course that gesture may not show except for that kindly twinkle in your eyes. Thank one another. Continue to social distance, but  you can do so while acknowledging how the masks unite rather than separate you from your neighbor.

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We are confronting a common enemy, together.  We need one another.

Give yourself a superhero name or give your neighbor one.  Lovely Lily, Helpful Harry or Generous George.

We are in this together. Wear a mask!

Be Still and Do Something

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Are you spending a lot of time at home these days? Unless you are in an essential service…and bless you if you are!… likely you are sheltering in place as far as possible, as am I.  Yet I am finding that with all the extra demands and stressors I need to deal with day to day, this staying home is becoming like a full time job!

I am reminded of a spiritual kernel:

Be Still and Do Something

There is so much you can accomplish while being still and staying in. Here is a brief list from my current experience. I invite you to compose your own list.

contemplation (active imagination)

meditation or prayer

writing (and editing)

art

reading

conversation (by phone or social media, including

FaceTime, Zoom, Skype)

Online searching

Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, Soduko

     Ordering groceries or supplies for home delivery (e.g. Instacart, Amazon,                                       WalMart.com)

     Cooking, learning new recipes

What are some activities you are engaged in that I have not covered here?

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images are from pixabay.com

I have opened a book of Rumi poetry to this passage (“No More the Presence”/ Coleman Barks, The Big Red Book):

               No more meanings.

               My pleasure now is with the inner sun, inner moon.

               This giving up has nothing to do with exhaustion.

               I walk from one garden to another,

               waves against my boat, ocean flames refining,

               as fresh as flowers and fish calligraphy.

Are you being beckoned to connect with your own inner guidance?  We are never truly alone!

 

 

 

Just Love

I have had a blog post written on the monthly theme of Listening Closely to Others for over a week, but the magnitude and scope of the global pandemic we are all dealing with makes any words I have to say seem weak and vain. So I am postponing regular themes. Today I just want to write from the heart.

At night before trying to get to sleep in these trying times, I have been sending light and love to the earth and all its beings. I visualize sending love and light from the center of my consciousness that then joins with billions of other souls, both embodied and from higher planes, also sending light and love, like 360 degree waves or globes expanding, intermixing and merging to blanket the entire globe in a golden sea of light, love and purity.

It is important I feel when I participate in this global light and love not to try to direct that love in any way. It is not a prayer or petition; it is not asking for anything to occur, just sending light and love and being detached, releasing that love to the whole.  This detachment is necessary to allow the outpouring of love to be humble and pure.

images are from pixabay.com

So if you wish, Just Love.

Gratitude for All Good Things

While dealing with the every day requirements of sheltering in place during the covid19 threat, lately I have come to realize how, for myself, I find I have much to be grateful for.  An attitude of gratitude helps me to tip the proverbial glass from almost empty to somewhat full.

I am grateful for my current state of good health, knowing that for all of us, that is not to be taken for granted.  My state of health allows me to be here for my home family of Sophie (my Shorkie dog), and Emily, my cat, who depend upon me for their own wellbeing.

I am grateful for my family and friends and for keeping in contact with them day by day.

I am grateful for Love. I perceive Love to be the very fabric of the universe that connects all to one another in all planes of Being and to the Divine, always.  Whatever happens, Love is here and now.  Fear can cast a shadow over our perception of Love but if we can remember to turn our hearts to give and to receive divine love, the light can shine through to dispel the shadows.

I heard a doctor quote from Mr. Rogers the other day: “In times of darkness there are always the Helpers.”  I am grateful for the Helpers, whether health care professionals, compassionate politicians, neighbors and friends, and service workers who deliver supplies and services to those quarantined or staying home.  So quickly have these Helpers become mobilized to serve others in ways unprecedented on the planet Earth.

images are gratefully from pixabay.com

What are you most grateful for today? If this question has become a difficult one for you to consider or to answer because your circumstances may seem anything but fortunate right now, of course I honor your feelings and you are entitled to be where you are at.  Whatever you are experiencing may divine love reach you, bringing some comfort to you and your loved ones.

May the Blessings Be!

For the Good of the Whole

 

What times we have found ourselves mucking around in these days! A global pandemic such as we have not encountered, certainly in America anyway, since the 1918-21 flu epidemic.  As this year’s theme for this blog site is about “Building Bridges,” I feel it is worth noting that underneath the terrible situation we are still trying to get a handle on collectively as well as individually for ourselves and our families, there are some potentially positive undercurrents.

When faced with a common fear or enemy, there can be a unification of otherwise factionalized groups.  We can put aside our differences and come together to share our insights and our resources, our best practices and our compassion, for the Good of the Whole.

May it be so!

I am finding my neighbors are reaching out to each other, checking in on each other to see what may be needed. Spiritual classes that cannot meet at a center or church are starting to occur by phone conference calls or by Skype or Facetime or Teams.  We have ample online resources now so that we can stay connected.  I have found I can order needed supplies and groceries via Instacart for a small fee; they will deliver to your door. Thank heaven for such services and that there are still goods and groceries available.

images are, gratefully, from pixabay.com

We are facing a common dilemma, together.  Hence we are already building bridges and sharing smiles (6 ft. apart!) as we go.  These are difficult times and many are facing peril.  Every single individual matters.  Hopefully we can lessen the dangers as far as possible, so long as we continue to serve the Good of the Whole.

Remember to Smile

 

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Life is precious.

Remember to smile.

Pets giving unconditional love.

Remember to smile.

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Family and friends, and few strangers now.

Remember to smile.

Birds singing Hu-u-u

Remember to smile.

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Sun in the Sky.

All is Love,

Remember, and Smile.

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images (except Sri Harold Klemp) from pixabay.com

 

When You Smile–Not Lost in Translation

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Hi everyone. I apologize for slowing down on blog frequency lately. I am teaching three classes online and trying to complete my next book manuscript (Better Endings!), so I have just been preoccupied.

This month’s theme continues our focus this year on “building bridges” and the theme (same as the title of this post) comes from an experience I had in high school that I have never forgotten. At a drama workshop I took part in an exercise.  One at a time, each student in a group of around ten was put in the center of a circle, with the rest of the group making the circle. The one in the center was to make a statement that they would keep making no matter how much those in the circle tried to override or interrupt the person.

The statement I used when it was my turn in the center was from Crosby, Stills and Nash:

When you smile at me I will understand,

because that is one thing everybody everywhere does

in the same language.

I persisted with this phrase for about ten minutes and gradually the rest of the group relented; they liked what I was saying! So did I.  This statement does carry a universal truth and maybe these days, with so much divisiveness and “tribalism,” we could certainly stand to remember this notion and remeber to SMILE with one another, regardless of anyone’s opinion or angle on ‘truth’ or reality.

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images are from pixabay.com

So that’s enough. This month, I aim to practice smiling more. Next time we can apply this to the conclusion of the story of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, which follows the life of the Buddha. Good reading if you are looking for a respite!

Love Will Find Its Way, May the Blessings Be!

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This month the phrase “Keep Your Heart Open” has been a mantra and a lesson for me. Now I can connect this with its lyrical counterpart:

Love Will Find a Way!

Let’s make that, “Love Will Find Its Way” and we find a Better Endings mantra of positive resolve and acceptance.

Folks, I want to express my deep gratitude to each and every one of you who has been or is currently reading this post. I have so enjoyed the Blogverse this past several years, and some of you have become friends as I have liked reading and viewing your brilliant pieces and I have enjoyed sharing here.

Because my life has suddenly burst open with several new responsibilities and opportunities with which I am happy to engage, after long consideration I am signing off. This is my final post.

May I leave you, in deepest respect for all of your unique and beautiful Soul paths, with a universal mantra, the word HU (sung Hu-u-u-u-u-u on a long drawn-out breath, either aloud or inwardly). This is a breath mantra of divine, unconditional love that I have learned through my spiritual practice of Eckankar.

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images are from pixabay.com

Keep Your Heart Open;

Love Will Find Its Way.

May the Blessings Be to All!

Linda

Deer Vision

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I have had two waking dream concepts recently about my monthly question of ‘Why Am I/ Are We Here?’ I realize now they are two facets of the same idea: “Bubble awareness” and “Deer vision.” Both refer to living mindfully in the Now. Let me begin by exploring Deer Vision, as it seems most relevant to my probe.

In the rural environment I drive through where I am living now, white-tailed deer are abundant. They are such exquisite Beings, playful and loving in their close family groups, able to dive and leap in play with one another. One of my greatest concerns is that I never want to hit one as it would be crossing a road. So, I try to drive always with Deer Vision: looking far enough ahead and driving at such a speed that I could slow or stop in time to avoid injuring a deer.

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Deer Vision also means for me to consider and emulate how a deer sees. Such soft, intelligent eyes these white-tailed deer have. They often make eye contact with me as I stop for them to cross or as I slowly drive past. I imagine that how a deer sees is in energy forms, perceiving and assessing the intentions or consciousness of other denizens of the forest.

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This brings me to the broader notion of Bubble Awareness. From fencing I learned how important it can be to maintain a 360 degree awareness, forming a protective but fluid  ‘bubble’ of attention. This allows responsivity, let’s call it, the flexibility to advance or retreat in the moment without having to consciously “think” about it. When the alter (i.e. the opponent, in fencing) and self are both operating at a high degree of this sort of awareness, the ‘bubble’ envelops them both and they are in it together. I used to call this a ‘peak experience bout.’ But the principle extends to life in general.

I am Here, in part, to exercise Deer Vision within the perspective  of Bubble Awareness: to be attentive and responsive to the needs and opportunities of the Moment, for myself and in relation to all others.

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images are from pixabay.com

To be sure, being (only) human, I do not always achieve or maintain this ideal awareness. The other day while driving and actually mulling over Deer Vision at the time, a beautiful little chipmunk darted out in front of my car. Although I tried to slow down and veered slightly to avoid hitting the chipmunk, the car did run the chipmunk over. Darn!

My very act of trying to avoid the chipmunk may have been what caused the accident to happen, since s/he could not adjust to my change in speed or trajectory. Likewise, when “trying” too hard in life more generally, I often err in my human relations, too. Darn! So, patience with myself, acceptance of my limitations or the limitations of the situation as I/ we aim to see and respond, better.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

 

Eagle with Snake

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While driving in my car via a new route for me, from Ithaca to finally settle in at my new lakeside community retirement house, I watched as a Golden Eagle carried its living prey: a snake, dangling from its beak. The eagle with snake flew in front of my car in my same direction for a long while, weaving back and forth like blazing my trail forward; then it veered off to the northwest, precisely in the direction of my new home.

I certainly accepted this unusual experience as a waking dream, and one that relates greatly to my June question: ‘Why Am I Here?’

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My initial personal associations with this sign include that the Eagle could be understood as an Animus (a masculine energy form) in Jungian terms, with keen vision, sharp talons to provide for its young; also as positive purpose and clear directionality.

Online some of the information I discovered about this image revealed:

  •  Eagles and hawks have the keenest vision of all birds; therefore they are symbols of visionaries and messengers;
  • eagle with snake, in mythology, represents the conflict of opposites (a dialectical, dynamic fusion);
  • the Mexican flag contains the image of a golden eagle on top of a cactus, grasping a snake: “the very image the people had been promised would direct them to the place they would make their new home.”
  • Golden eagles do eat snakes but only as 2.9% of their usual prey; this has not even been reported to occur in New York state.

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images are from pixabay.com

I am grateful for this sign which feels like a blessing for my purpose in my new home. May I serve Life here in whatever capacity I am able.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Why Are You Here?

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June is my birth month, this year I’ll be 65. I find myself living my dream, now, as I have discovered, purchased, and moved into my dream retirement home in a beautiful natural setting, with a dynamic community, and with excellent regional resources and opportunities. I must admit, this scares me! Will it all come crashing down, too good to be  true? This trepidation reveals to me a self-limiting postulate that I need to confront and resolve in order to go forward with this fresh set of life conditions. My monthly question becomes:

Why Am I Here?

I have always recognized the double entendre of this age-old question, ‘Why are you here?’ Why here, at this physical place and time; or also why Here, in a spiritual sense. These two are connected from the perspective of Purpose. What am I here to do, be, and see? This also relates for me to a search for greater clarity regarding an even deeper concern:

How Can I Serve?

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Wednesday night last week I happened upon a sci-fi movie on TV that I had not heard of before, called “Passengers.” It was about two people on an interstellar spaceship traveling some 88 years to reach a habitable planet. Some 5000 passengers had been cryogenetically suspended for the duration of the voyage, but a malfunction caused one man, Jim, to resuscitate early, and after over a year alone, he revived a woman, Aurora, whom he had developed a fondness toward from watching her autobiographical video records. This was an atrocious act of selfishness as it meant Aurora, too, would die in transit before the ship could arrive at its destination.

(Spoiler alert): After an initial phase of believing Jim’s story that she had awakened accidentally, Aurora becomes enraged after a robotic bartender informs her of Jim’s actions to assuage his own loneliness. But my interest in this story piqued when the ship developed further malfunctions that required Aurora and Jim to work together to repair the vessel if the ship were to reach its destination at all, and for all its passengers to survive as well as themselves. It became a matter of Purpose then; I could surmise from a spiritual perspective that there had been no accidents at all in the revival of this man and this woman, with their particular skillsets and their survivalist personality dispositions. They were needed to save the ship and its passengers, a purpose of collective, not just personal, good. Their lives then took on a heightened significance; they had a purpose, a reason to be who/ what/ where and when they were in their own sojourns of discovery and service.

Already I have had a waking dream about this question, from a conversation with my sister who is a pastor in New England soon to be retiring after more than 40 years of serving as interim pastor in many churches. We arrived at the awareness:

Love Is All There Is.

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images are from pixabay.com

For all of our human questioning as members of an often overly self-conscious species (my dog Sophie and cat Emily do not have this problem!), I do feel that at the foundation of everything–of all sentient experience–is Love: unconditional, untaintable. I sense if I can connect these principles of service and love I can accept that I, like everyone, am indeed here for a greater purpose than personal satisfaction or material success. Therefore I have a right to be Here-Now and am willing to step forward to fulfill whatever service opportunities I can. Already here and now, I am writing!

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!