Present Tense

Stream of consciousness….

natureI’ve got so many things on my mind right now that I’ve felt too scattered to try and write. In fact, I’m sitting here now, just typing and hoping that something materializes that makes sense.

I’m reading 3 or 4 books at once and all seem to focus around one message, despite their divergent authors and subject matter: get in touch with you.

You, meaning the natural, authentic, ancient you. I’m kind of obsessed with a theory that the ancient peoples of the world actually knew MORE than we modern humans. They lived directly on and with the earth their entire lives. They intimately understood the natural rhythms of the seasons, the eco-system and the energy that animates us.

I feel as if we are so separate from our roots in nature, that we have lost touch with the elements of life that keep us healthy, happy and human. Most of us embrace technology as something that has greatly enhanced our lives, but the more I think about it, the less I believe it. I think we are distracted, numb and out of touch with what animates us as living, breathing organisms. The natural world is where we came from and yet we’re destroying it in the name of growth, progress, and ‘better lives’.

Yes, I’m guilty. I have all of the modern conveniences, including a giant iPhone 6 Plus, that I obsessively carry with me at all times. I have a conflicted relationship with that frickin’ phone. It contains podcasts, music, meditations and various apps that I use for fairly healthy pursuits, but it’s the email and Facebook and texting that addicts me. Every time I spend more than 20 minutes Facebooking, I hate myself. It drains me; it often depletes the spiritual work that I’ve done that day, particularly if I get sucked into some stupid self-righteous argument. And yet…I go back to it.

So, what to do? I’m seriously considering dropping the Facebook page that many of you found this blog on, but then how do I publicize Present Tense? I enjoy writing the blog, but is it time to just completely retire from public communication? Do I write because I need constant validation? Is this merely my ego striving for attention?

Last week, I went out to dinner with some girl friends and out of the blue, they all told me to never stop writing the blog; they said it gave validation to many of the feelings and struggles they were having. Then, during another discussion about my astrological chart, I was told that I was here to communicate; to talk about and share my own spiritual quest and help others along the way. Okay. Blog will continue.

So, my next phase will include a lot of rumination on how we can go backwards as humans to a time when we were in tune with our world on a much more intimate level than we are right now. Some have never lost that connection, but most of us have. The ancient people who are responsible for much of our current spiritual roots, knew much more than we give them credit for.

There is a spirit in everything and we would do well to honor them all; the trees, the rocks, the flowers, the birds, the fish, the foods we eat, etc. Many of us have pets and we have no doubt that they have spirits; we know them intimately and believe that are connected to us. Extend that connection to everything around you, including other people, no matter how hostile or annoying. Everything and everyone has a spirit and our job as residents of earth is to honor every spirit.

This may mean disconnecting and going outside more often. Touch the actual earth, rather than concrete or asphalt. Eat REAL food, that was lovingly grown. Limit the chemicals in your house and on your body. Stop believing the ‘conventional wisdom’ that is usually disseminated to control your thoughts or gain power or money for someone. Listen to your body and nurture it. Begin some sort of meditation practice. Be introspective and honest with yourself. Above all, recognize that we are all connected; everyone and everything on this planet. Even those you fear and may not understand. Don’t hate. Dig deep and begin to love more.

January 30, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Be Fearless…And Save The World

I actually wrote this a couple of years ago, but not much has changed, sadly.  So I thought I would dig it out and re-publish, since it’s what has been on my mind of late.  The media and government-fed fear of EVERYTHING is  making us aggressive and hostile and bigoted.  We need to stop.  We need to tap into the better angels of our nature: love, compassion and most importantly, empathy.  So what if people laugh at you for being ‘too nice’ or ‘soft’ or a ‘bleeding heart’.  Seems like that would be a badge of honor; be different. Be the real, loving you.   That’s what God/creator/cosmic energy intended.                                                                                                                                                     fear-198933_640

We live in a time of fear.  Fear brought on by global events, national events,economic catastrophes, other viewpoints, other religions, no religion, health care, no health care…you name it, we’re scared of it.

Life has been chugging along on our big blue marble for thousands  of years for us humans.  And before we-of-the-huge-brains came along, things chugged along without us.  Why are we suddenly so freaked out by everything?

I have a few theories.  One is that we’ve seen such huge technological advances over the past century, that we tend to believe that technology can fix all that ails us.  We are so smart that we should have solved all of the problems by now and when it occurs to us that we haven’t and won’t, it’s kinda scary.  And frustrating.  One solution begets another round of problems.  We don’t like that.  We humans don’t have the control over our world that we’d like.

Despite our best efforts to eradicate pain, suffering, war and disease, the universe remains infinitely powerful and troublesome and that makes us nervous.  I also think that it may be the catalyst for so much of the religious fervor that is bubbling here in the U.S. and around the world.  If we can’t solve all of the problems, maybe a deity can.  Science has let us down, so let’s turn it over to God and go whole hog into religious zealotry. Screw science and technology.  Let’s demonize our fellow sinners, as a sacrifice for the gods.

I’ve been re-reading my favorite book on Buddhist teachings by Steve Hagen, a zen priest.  It’s called “Buddhism Plain and Simple”.  It’s my favorite because I tend to think that spiritual beliefs should be plain and simple.  Fear and unease is referred to in Buddhist philosophy as duhkha;  the concept is that we often feel uneasy about the world around us, particularly because much of life is out of our control.  Buddhists don’t believe that the lack of control is good or bad, but just “is”.  To overcome this feeling of unease or suffering or anxiety or duhkha, you accept reality as it is.  Simple.  The tired phrase, “it is what it is” was probably uttered by Buddha thousands of years ago.  A  Zen parable called “Maybe” illustrates this simply and succinctly.

The older I get, the less fearful I am.  When I was young, I was incredibly selfish.  I did what I wanted to, without weighing how I affected other people.  I’m not proud of that, but there was a nugget of fearlessness in my behavior, mostly due to the fact that when you’re young, you really do think you’re invincible and immortal.  Even though I look back and cringe at some of the things that I did that adversely affected others, I am grateful for my bravado.  I never would have had my radio career without it.  I was willing to take risks to achieve success and was humble enough to learn from my (many) mistakes.  Plus, when you’re young and starting out, you have nothing to lose.  I often say on my radio show that your 20s are your ‘mulligan’ or your do-over decade.  If you’re gonna screw up, do it then so that you’ve got plenty of time to regain your balance and momentum.

Now, my fearlessness comes from knowing that my fears are rarely realized in the ways I’ve imagined.  Obstacles get tossed into your path and you go over or around them.  The next day dawns and you move forward. You learn with time and age, that you’re stronger than you think you are.  I have recognized and begun to accept the concept of duhkha.  There is a lot of stuff that just isn’t within my control and wishing and hoping and praying ain’t gonna make it so.  Accept what you SEE and KNOW to be true and the fear begins to dissipate.  We all end up in the same place in the end.

Accept the inevitability of  life/death/time/change.  It’s amazing how clearly you begin to see.

Morbid? No.  Freeing?  Yes.  “It is what it is”, friends.


January 25, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Ready to Die?

heavenI’ve been thinking a lot about death lately (yeah, I’m a bundle of laughs, eh?) and then I woke up this morning to the news that a friend’s husband died suddenly last night. He was there one minute and gone the next. Heart attack. Massive.

I’ve been thinking about my own death and I guess everyone else’s as well, since we all will die and I know so many people who’ve lost loved ones in the past year or so, including me.  It’s such a theme in my life right now that I feel as if something is telling me to pay attention.

I’m not really afraid to die; I think that it may be the greatest thing that ever happens to us. We leave the bonds of our human bodies, our human frailty, our human pain and that sounds pretty damned good.

I’m not sure exactly what we become, but I believe we become a wonderful, loving energy. The same energy that animates all of us at our core; the energy of God/creator/life.

The tough part is those left behind, right? The human condition. The person that leaves us to become loving energy isn’t the one suffering. We cannot imagine life without their physical presence. We’re not ready to let them go, to walk the earth without them. We may even believe that they are indeed, in a ‘much better place’ and yet, we still mourn their passing. Not for them, but for us.

And that’s okay. I wish as we progressed and evolved, death would become easier for us, but it seems as if it’s even harder to accept. We live under the illusion that technology can fix anything;  that we shouldn’t die.  After all this is 2015! We can put a man on the moon, Skype, make robotic limbs, orbit the earth, hack into sophisticated computers, kill people without ever seeing them with drones and clone sentient beings in labs. Why on earth do we still die?

I think that we’re too removed from death anymore. From our food that comes pre-packaged, no longer resembling the living beings that provide it to the way people are whisked off to hospitals to die, we just never see it or absorb that it’s such an integral part of our lives. We tuck it away and don’t want to look and so we deny the inevitable.

We fear it like nothing else. One friend told me, “I’m afraid that it will hurt and that’s why I’m scared”. What doesn’t hurt? Life hurts and yet, we cling to it like drowning rats. I suspect that most deaths are quite peaceful and yet how would we know since we never see it? I suspect that those who work in health care, who see death daily, might have a different view than the rest of us, but I’ve never really heard any of them talk about it.

I’ve been reading and listening to various spiritual teachers regarding life and death and spirit. The consensus is that we are infinite spirits. We’re not really ‘born’ and we don’t really ‘die’; we morph or manifest or arrive in our human form and then we move on again. To what, I really don’t know, but the more I study, the more curious I become. You are energy; you are light; you are love, as are those you’ve lost. Don’t let the silly stuff of human life clip your wings. Nurture your soul because that’s really who you are. You are infinite.

January 19, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

On retirement and fear….

9473170550_a8d06952b6_hI’ve been retired for over 6 weeks now. Calling it retirement still grates on me. I prefer ‘not working’. Retirement sounds so old and final and stodgy. It also sounds sort of clinical and legal to me. Like some sort of ‘status’ that you use on government forms or something.

So, I think I will stop using that word for my situation. Starting over: I stopped working for money about 6 weeks ago and I’m holding up just fine. No regrets and I honestly don’t miss the job. I thought that I would. I had a sneaking suspicion that I would miss certain aspects of my life as a radio host; that I would long to weigh in on current events or issues. I wondered if my opinions would back up like a clogged drain pipe, causing a messy flood of unspent energy.

Nope. I don’t even keep up with current events anymore. I don’t have to. Seems that the world keeps spinning whether I know what’s happening or not. In a related story, it keeps spinning without my valuable opinions being shared on the radio every morning. I suspected as much, but the truth is, I don’t care and it doesn’t bother me.

I would love to know the percentage of what we fear will happen, actually happens. In other words, all of the stuff that we worry about, ponder and over-analyze; the ‘what ifs’ that keep us from doing what we want to do.

Ever since I announced to friends, family and then publicly, that I was leaving my job, I heard this drumbeat: “What will you do? I would lose my mind. I have to work. What about money? Won’t you go crazy? You’re such a go-getter; you’ll need to find something to ‘do’.”

That is fear talking. Not my fears, other people’s. I thought about those things because I’m a worrier and a planner, although I’ve let go of a lot of that stuff. People who immediately voiced those ‘concerns’ to me, are afraid to make the changes that they long for in their lives.

Sound familiar? Do you often find yourself in the hell of “What if (fill in the blank)”? You cannot move forward on your life’s path if you are paralyzed by those what ifs. They are fear grabbing you by throat or the neck or the heels, keeping you from fulfilling your needs or dreams.

Your life will never be perfect. EVER. There will never be a perfect time to jump off that cliff into the unknown. That’s just not how it works. Sometimes you have to jump and see where you land. Do it while you have time because none of us are guaranteed anything in this life. Sudden changes can happen in an instant and sometimes those catalysts are just what we need to get off our asses and change our direction.

But, catalysts are messy and stressful. How about you do things on your terms?

That is what I’m the most proud of regarding my status. I left on my terms. I moved forward on my timeline. I left on top. Now, I’m not looking back.

So, yes. Retirement is great. Thanks for asking.

January 6, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments


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