Present Tense

On ceremony

Last night, there was a drum circle at my house.  A gifted friend suggested that it was needed for me and for our land. Since she is usually right about these matters, I was all in.

We gathered around a substantial fire with our drums and no real plan other than to drum into a nice, meditative state.  For ourselves, for the land, for the ancestors.

Drumming is healing; it’s a primal and sacred beat and if you really allow it to take you over, it’s like feeling the heartbeat of God/The Divine/Source/Gaia.  It is ceremony.  It is what we are meant to do.

Another gifted and wise friend of mine recently said “Life is ceremony.” Meaning that we have to pay attention to the small rituals of our daily walk on earth.  Why do we do certain things; why do we NOT do certain things?  Are we treating our time here with the necessary gratitude and honor that is our birthright?

There is a lot written about mindfulness anymore.  It’s a tired buzzword that has mostly lost its meaning.  We equate it with doing things slowly and gently or piously and that’s not always the point.

The mindfulness of ceremony is realizing that everything we do emits energy.  Everything we do has an effect on everything.  We don’t live in a vacuum or a bubble.  We affect and are affected by every other human and non-human, not only on this planet, but in the entire cosmic plane, both past and future.

So, if you ponder and absorb that concept, you see that pop culture mindfulness isn’t enough.  It’s good, don’t get me wrong.  But, we need to gather and meld our minds and energies.

Decades ago, most folks attended church in the US.  Okay, here’s the obligatory eye roll from some of you who reject and mock organized religion.  I get it.  I haven’t regularly attended church since I was 6.  What I’m saying is that the weekly (or more) visits to a church service were a time to gather in ceremony.  And even if you squirmed or fidgeted or counted the seconds until the service was over, it had an effect.

We need these gatherings.  We need ceremony.  We need a time to lose ourselves in spirit and the energy of that spirit or consciousness that animates us.  A time to allow our analytical, western minds to shut the hell up.  A time to go inward and quiet the fears, monkey mind, anxiety, cravings and grasping that comes with modern life.

About a week ago, my family gathered to bury the ashes of our parents.  They had requested a very simple graveside gathering.  In my mom’s words, “no preaching”.  And so we did exactly that.

We gathered; kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and a few other friends and relatives.  My brother spoke, I read a short eulogy, my uncle said a short prayer and then we talked.  Anyone who wanted to share a fond memory of my parents spoke.  We laughed a lot and that felt good.  We were able to honor our parents’ lives in an informal, loving way, just the way they envisioned.  Ceremony.  A gathering of love and closure.  It was cleansing and necessary.

To me, ceremony is about healing; it’s a way to nurture ourselves and all of humanity.  Heck, all of everything.  So, if we begin to live our lives as ceremony, it would force us to look at what we do.  Is this activity/thought/belief nurturing or is it harmful or an escape?  Does this make me feel good and full and nurtured or is it merely a habitual way of masking my pain or unworthiness or fear?

Get a drum, grab a rattle.  Hell, grab a couple of sticks and walk around your yard banging them together.  Go inside, find that trance-like state of feeling safe and connected to all that is.  Gather some friends and sit around a fire.  Try to catch yourself within your daily habits and routine and see if you can make it into something sacred and nourishing.  Let’s all look for meaning in our actions; then let the toxic stuff go.

That is ceremony.

July 23, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Time for the grief to go

I made a conscious intention a couple of days ago to let go of my grief.

There has been so much over the last 3 years, culminating in my mom’s death in December.  When we suffer profound loss, we tend to revisit it for a period of time afterwards.  Sometimes, for the rest of our lives.

I started wondering why?  Why do I keep bringing back these feelings of pain and sadness, not only in my mind, but in my body.  I can feel the pain as if it were happening all over again.  It’s like picking at a wound that has scabbed over, only to make it bleed again and again and again.

How can it heal, when it is re-opened?

I realized that part of it was guilt. Guilt that if I don’t keep thinking about these deaths, that I’m not properly honoring them.  A belief that I need to remind myself of their loss and their absence on this physical plane.  That I can’t talk to them or hug them or apologize or encourage.  And I feel guilty that their absence also gives me a certain freedom. Especially from parental and family expectations and obligations.

Another part was fear. Fear that if I don’t revisit and remember, that they will fade from my memory as if they were never here.  Fear that I will forget how profoundly they affected me and how fiercely I loved them and they loved me.  Especially with the dogs, since I have other dogs now.  It becomes difficult to keep the dead ones in my consciousness; they all start to meld together.

So, I’ve been picking the scab; often in the quiet of  middle of the night.  I would wake up and remember.  They are gone.  Then move on to the day they died and the circumstances of their deaths and then I felt it all over again.  Almost as if it were happening in that moment.  And it felt terrible, but I rationalized it by telling myself that I have to keep their memory alive.  I have to feel that pain.

No more.  That scab has to heal. No more picking.  No more bleeding.  It will most certainly leave a scar.  But, scars don’t bleed and we often display them with the stories of how we got them. Usually, with a smile because we know that we survived and no matter how awful the wound, we did heal to a certain extent.  We healed enough to tell the tale of that scar.

I’ve shifted over to positive memories.  Funny, joyful, instructive, emotional, happy, silly and yes, sometimes sad or challenging memories.  A well-rounded remembrance of our lives.

So, that’s where I am.  Healing.  Isn’t that where we all are?  Everyday?  One wound may still be fresh, while others have scabbed over and many are well earned scars.  This is our life on planet earth. It hurts, but we get another day to make a life…and then another and another and another.

Allowing my grief to move into a new stage involved a release and an emptying that leaves me open and ready to what is coming.  It’s been a long process, with so many losses piled on top of one another in a fairly short time.  I’d never really had to deal with death in such an intimate way until 3 years ago and I was ill prepared.  A very steep learning curve that culminated in the honor of seeing, hearing and feeling my mom’s last breath.

But, it’s okay.  Lives end. They begin.  And what we do in between is what matters to humanity.  Make a decision to heal your wounds.  Ask for help, seek out tools and practices.  Don’t keep making yourself bleed over and over.  We have an innate ability to heal physically that is so apparent.  What may not be as apparent is our innate ability to heal our spirits as well.  The first step is intention.

I wish you well.  Feel free to reach out.

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Equinox. On balance

Early tomorrow morning is the spring equinox.  The place where the earth stands upright.  A perfect balance between light and dark, half in and half out, half dressed and half naked; the fulcrum.

The tipping point toward spring, rebirth and climbing out of the underworld, but still with one foot in. It is also the day when the sun moves into Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. In astrological terms, it is New Year’s Day.

Balance. How do we balance our lives? Over the past few months, I’ve been torn between escape and reality. Between wanting to float up into the stars or bob around in the middle of the ocean vs. grounding myself into my human life. How to stay at a higher vibration, while remaining completely human and functional in this body.

Sometime back in the fall, I felt a strong urge to ‘get back into my body’. I didn’t feel strong or healthy. I was living so entirely in my head that I had literally lost touch with my body. The meat suit that houses my spirit.

I’ve begun to creep back in, but I still struggle. Not with being overcome by spirit, but more often, with being overcome by intellect; thinking, analyzing, worrying, fretting.

Losing my mom at the end of the year was such a profound event. I was operating at a much higher vibration leading up to her death. It was almost an out of body experience, where I was so tuned into the higher realms, that once she died, I felt let down. I was back among the mess of the living.

I missed that plane that I was inhabiting. That place where the day to day drudgery of life and current events and ‘being me’ was shoved to the background; where all that mattered was making sure she was comfortable and allowed to leave this earthly plane to commune with the ancestors.

I rejoiced in her transition; the birth of a spirit is how I saw it. Knowing that she was free.

The death of my mother was a transformative event and I’m still allowing that process to unfold. I’ve been steadily working on releasing so much of the ‘old’ me, much of which was locked into being a daughter and member of a family. Losing both parents permanently alters that whole story.

I am now allowed to be fully me. The sun that our family solar system revolved around is gone; the gravitational pull of our parents has ceased. I’m allowed to create my own orbit.

That has created a space to start releasing those old stories and that’s where I am.

Standing with my palms up and open to the universe to release that which needs to go and to receive my new marching orders; shedding old skin, layer after layer. Putting aside and leaving behind old burdens and stories that no longer serve me. Lightening my load. Making room for the new that has been patiently waiting for me to prepare a vessel to hold it.

Happy New Year to me….

March 19, 2017 Posted by | Musings | 4 Comments

On chaos…

eye-1My husband Dee just came into my office and shared a quote with me: “Life and chaos go hand in hand; that is life.”

This is indisputable isn’t it?  Life is chaos, but it’s all in how we perceive it.  Is it chaos or is it actually very orderly?

If we were were to look inside of our bodies, we would see a billion processes going on. Cells rushing here and there, manufacturing this and processing that. Digesting, making blood, building bones, moving oxygen molecules and that doesn’t even take into account the immensity of what is happening in our brains.

Under a microscope, it looks like complete and utter chaos. But, in reality, it’s not.  Everything has order and a job and a purpose.  It would appear to be a lot of rushing around, but it isn’t random, so it isn’t really ‘chaos’, is it?

Chaos is a human construct or definition.  It’s our perception of actions and events and yes, even thoughts, that we label as chaotic.  Watch a video of people in Grand Central Station in New York City or just look at kids changing classes in a school.  Bustling, confusing, busy, but they are all going someplace.  It is actually orderly.

So, if we change our perception of chaos or as we like to call the current events that are happening now, a shit storm, we may see that underneath all of this seeming random craziness, there is order; a purpose.

I’m reading a couple of interesting books about the historical cycles on earth.  In a nutshell, the premise is that we go through various cycles with each generation. Those of us born within the same rough time frame, say 15 years, experience and react quite differently from those who are older or younger than we are.  Their formative years, were not our formative years.  Events and energies were altered.

But like the stars in the sky, these cycles repeat roughly every 80 years and we can predict or at least be aware of the human ‘energy’ of these periods.

It’s really fascinating and I know there is an astrological component, but that’s not what I want to talk about. My point is that there are catalyst events within these cycles that change us and our world.  They have to happen.  Disruption must occur.  By the way, I prefer disruption over the term chaos because chaos has such a negative connotation and without disruption, life cannot evolve.

For instance, the American Revolution birthed a nation like the world had never seen before, predicated on self-determination, rather than birthright. Yes, I know, we aren’t perfect, but ‘chaos’ created something amazing.

The Civil War was another disruptive event.  Quite horrible at the time ( a true understatement, forgive me), but it resulted in the end of slavery.

We can look at many, many events and some of them didn’t have good outcomes. For instance 9/11 seems to have ushered in an era of suspicion, overreaction and a rise of government invasion of our privacy.  We can argue that, but it’s kind of inarguable if you’ve traveled by plane lately.  However, when we look back in 50 years, we may see the true effects. History needs time to unfold.

It was a cyclical catalyst. And they will ALWAYS happen.  In order to build and evolve, we have to have destruction.  We have to have disruption.  It is life.

We see it in nature, every single year.  In the fall, everything dies and goes dormant.  It lays there all winter and in the spring, rebirth.  Summer is luscious and abundant and lavish.  Then, autumn comes and we slowly wind down to begin the next cycle. This happens without fail.

Our reactions and perceptions are key in these events.  If we were to begin to understand and embrace these disruptions, we could save ourselves a lot of pain and anguish. I know that’s very hard to do.

This is the core purpose of a spiritual practice.  To be the eye of this constant storm of disruption that is life.  It’s always a swirling, spinning, living, dying, exploding, building, crazy, scary and beautiful process.

A spiritual practice grounds and centers us to be comfortable in the eye of this storm of life. To sit and allow this to spin around us, seeing the disruption for what it is: life and the development and evolution of our species.

Yes, it can be overwhelming and sad and shocking, but that is what is it is to be human.  And it has always been and will always be.

Imagine what would happen if let’s say, a billion of us just stepped out of the chaos and into the center of the storm.  We just take ourselves out of the swirling mess via meditation and putting our faith in a higher power or however you choose to practice.

What would happen?  The storm would lessen.  We could begin to see a little more clearly what is really happening.  We would hold space for the necessary disruptions to occur without adding to it in a negative way.  This does not mean ‘giving up’.  It means taking time to gain some clarity and focus.  A gathering of our strength.

So many people have asked me how I managed to navigate my mother’s recent death with a calmness and serenity and acceptance.  Truly, people have reached out and asked me this.

I didn’t do anything that people haven’t done for thousands and thousands of years. But, for me, a spiritual component was the most important aspect of embracing her birth into spirit.  I used ritual, ceremony, meditation and faith.

These practices are available to all of us; this is ancient wisdom from all cultures that will help us cope and thrive.  It’s not woo woo or airy fairy or superstitious.  This is part of our humanity. We need help dealing with the world and with being human. It’s hard.  And we don’t get that help from man made institutions, most of which are now crumbling before our eyes.

Our faith must be put back into each of us, as humans.  Not the government or the military or the police or the banks or the corporations or sadly, the church.

It’s time to awaken to the mysteries of your own soul.  To use these practices and rituals and strategies to cope with what seems to be chaos, but is really an evolution of humanity that seems confusing and frightening and unstable.

Yes, it is all of those things, but history is full of similar circumstances. The difference is that we have modern technology to shove it in our faces and into our minds and bodies, 24/7.

Find your practice.  Find your tribe.  Embrace the quiet and the ancient wisdom that is available to you. You have the world at your fingertips now.  Read, contemplate, join, support, ask for support, get quiet and remove yourself from the storm.  Step into the eye.

Embrace the chaos, for it is life.

January 19, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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