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 | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

On dying….

Sat down to write in my joucandle-with-flame-1rnal this morning and this came out.  Stream of consciousness and I figured I would go ahead and post it.  Raw form. No edits.

I had a reiki session yesterday as I’ve been feeling sooooo low.  Not as bad as a week or so ago, but just full of dark sludge.  My 96 year-old Mom is not doing well and when I say that, it’s more of an energetic thing than a physical one.

My visits with her are beautiful and tragic and necessary.  My reiki goddess, Charlotte had very good advice when she said to just ‘be with her’.  I don’t have to ‘do’ anything; maybe that’s my job.  To bring her along toward death and acceptance and letting go of this physical plane.

Some of the things that have happened over the past few weeks show me that I’m supposed to be there in these situations.  To be there when she falls, is scared and confused and as Anne Lamott says, to simply ‘bring her a glass of water’.  I can’t change her situation, I can’t turn the clock back or forward, I can only wait with her for the day when she transitions to spirit.

This is very hard for me.  I’m an action person.  A deep thinker, but also driven to do something, to initiate movement of some sort and in this situation, that is just not possible or productive or kind.  Her spirit is leaking out, as is her life force and I can only sit with her, offering comfort and love and security.

Dying is a profound act.  From the beginning of time, humans have feared it, wondered about it, attempted to explain it, run from it, denied it and ultimately we must accept it.  I have accepted that I will lose her and since she has told me many times that she has been here long enough, I welcome the end of her life in this physical incarnation.

There was a time when I was absolutely paralyzed with the fear of losing my parents. I’ve written about it and I discussed it with a counselor.  Over the past 3 years, I’ve been in an intense and instructive death lesson, having lost two dogs, my dad and a dear friend.  This got my attention.

And though I’m still pissed off at their passing; that I can’t hold them, call them, consult them or just know they are sharing my earth space, I have been able to formulate a spiritual knowing that death is not the end.

I firmly believe that we live on as spirit and that the moment that we leave this physical body, will free us and expand us and turn us into pure light and love.  That knowledge has erased much of my fear around my own death and has greatly helped me deal with and process the many and inevitable losses that come with being human.

So, death and dying confront us all.  At some point, we all take that final breath and our ancestors will appear to lead us back to our pure essence; our authentic spirit and soul self.

My job now is to hold my mom’s hand until she lets go.  And that is enough.

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

So long to what’s not workin’…

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Friday is the Spring Equinox.  A time for saying goodbye to things that are weighing you down; for leaving behind the things that aren’t working in your life.  Make a list of those items and burn them, preferably Friday.  And then move on.  I sat down and wrote this in my journal this morning, so it’s kind of stream of consciousness:

Today is the day that I am letting go of my burdens. I’ve been carrying around my sadness and loss like a huge backpack of rocks for a long time. It has weighed me down; I gained about 20 pounds and let my body go to hell carrying this junk with me. No more. I’m moving toward freedom, light, joy, renewal and all of the good stuff. Enough is enough.

I’m an optimist. I know that things work out for the best. Yes, there is a lot of pain in the world; so much suffering and some of it by people that I love, but I cannot absorb that and allow it to ruin me. I have to rise above it, see the good and the beautiful. I need more music and movement and nature and sunshine and beaches and water and walks. I want to learn to play the guitar.

I’m going to slowly let go and shut down my Jane London Facebook page. That is no longer me; I no longer need that affirmation and adoration. I will write my blog and hope that it resonates, but I won’t be obsessed with views and comments and pats on the back. It’s a beautiful thing to connect and help others. I love that people compliment my writing and I hope that I get better and keep writing, but I have to focus on what’s in front of me.

I’ve spent more time on the feelings and lives of people I barely know than on my own household. My husband is neglected and needs me. My mom needs me and I need to re-connect with my siblings in a way that isn’t about just grief and caring for my mom.

So, this is the way forward. Leave the old ways that were not working and were conspiring against my growth and happiness and freedom. In the end, I will die. Will all of the things I worried and obsessed about really matter? Some will, but most will not. I guess it could be argued that none will matter.

I will die and turn into pure energy and love. Why not try and do that while I’m here? We all have that potential, but modern life conspires to keep us burdened and scared and confined. Not me. I’ve done all of that. Freedom. Letting go. Let’s do this.

March 18, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Choose wisely

candleWe all have choices: darkness or light, positive or negative, glass half empty or glass half full, gratitude or victimhood. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

The past two months I chose darkness and this period made the Top 5 Most Miserable Times of My Life List. I can’t really pinpoint what is #1 on that list, since my life is ongoing, but it was right up there near the horrible pinnacle.

Everything that led up to this 60 days of darkness has been well-documented in this blog: moving, the death of my dog, a long and brutal winter, regrets, changes and then the final straw, my dad’s sudden death. In other words, life. What knocked me off my axis, was the number of life-altering events that happened over the course of about 7 months. Too much, too quickly.

I’ve gone through some miserable times before, as have all of you. We are humans, walking around on an imperfect earth with other imperfect beings and bad shit goes down for all of us. My problem is that I always assume that it’s because of something I’ve done or didn’t do; some choice that I made or action that I took, that brings the wrath down. That’s my own little self-flagellating punishment that happens and it tends to make the challenging times in my life just a little MORE challenging.

So, after about 50 days of pain and suffering, inflicted mostly by me, I began searching for a remedy. I made a choice. Being in my skin had become unbearable; the urge to drink was overpowering. I almost felt possessed, as if someone else were animating my body and mind. I needed an escape from suffering.

I asked for spiritual guidance; threw it out to the universe and it came. From various sources. People, books, podcasts, nature, stumbling into a peaceful, little metaphysical bookstore in Traverse City. I also made a business trip to Denver that got me out of my dark little place and away from the oppressive energy at home. It was as if a swirling, cleansing wind had surrounded me, sweeping away the smothering black cloud.

That was when something clicked. I woke up, not feeling dread, but feeling whole and open and hopeful. I re-started my yoga practice that had been dormant for months, I finalized the end of a long-term commitment and was able to see clearly into my future with a sense of buoyancy, I heard the morning bird songs and was happy, rather than terrified to slog through another day. This all seems melodramatic, I know, but it’s true. And I’m so grateful.

The whole idea of asking the universe for help has been proven true for me. I reached out in a time of darkness and so many sent blinding light my way. I’m tanned, rested and ready to bloom again. Thank you to those who came to my rescue. Thank you to me, for opening up and basking in that glow and allowing that energy into my life.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t blame yourself when bad things happen. We have choices that are in front of us every single second, of every single day. Feel your pain; surrender to it and then look around for the help and the grace that is always there for us. It could come from nature, church, people, animals, art, music, exercise, meditation; whatever speaks to you, find it. Go there. Life is hard, it really is and anyone who says otherwise is a big, fat liar. Find your light and go toward it.

 

June 8, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

   

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