Present Tense

We are starlings…


We can feel it. We are being animated by these things that we can’t quite see or describe. If we squint or remove our strong attachments to outcomes, we can begin to see it.

Have you ever watched a flock of starlings when they collect and fly off? It’s like a gray-black wave that undulates as one.

You can’t really pick out one bird; it’s a collective decision to move and that wave is thick with birds, all working in concert.

That’s what collective energy is like among humans; or the whole universe.  Collective energy affects everything. I definitely believe the Earth herself is an active participant and she has been sending out warning signals for a long time.

If we were/are able to look down on the world from space, without any concept of space or time, you would see this synchronous energy.

It’s hard to see up close, in fact, I would suspect that an individual starling sees only chaos and the other birds immediately surrounding her.

But, when we step back; when we look back at the history of the world and of our nation, we see these turning points.

These are moments of either catalysts or evolution and the true turning points are mostly a combination of both.

Very few humans are able to see this in the moment. Some are. There are a lot of people with great vision, who often sound the alarms of what is happening or what is to come.

If we choose, we can use history as our guide and mentor and in some cases, predictor. If we open up. If we take the time to educate ourselves.

We are in a time, where the collective energy is shifting. It’s like when those starlings flap their wings for the first time, pre take-off.

They have no idea where they’re going, but they know it’s time and once they are airborne, something will click and they will coalesce into that huge, black undulating wave to begin their journey.

The current situation feels like the end, or the beginning of the end, of an era.  They are often so smooshed together that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the next begins.

The truth is, we just don’t have control of the collective. We only have us. We are but one ‘starling’, moving in concert with the collective, often with no clue as to why.

It feels to us as if we’re swept up and have no control over where that flock is headed.  That’s true, we don’t, but if we trust and we fly and we feel into it, we land some place completely different than where we began.

That’s so hard for us, isn’t it? We really feel as if we can muscle things into going our way. If we argue and present facts and statistics and experts and passion, we’ll change minds and hearts.

I’m not sure it works that way; in fact, as I’ve watched the unfolding over the past 10 days…oh hell, the last 10-20 years, I’ve seen people harden into their own tribe, beliefs and bunkers.

You know what has actually softened people? What has begun our evolution on this? Empathy, feelings, compassion.

It’s like the blinders of our rock hard ‘core beliefs’ have been chipped at or ripped away.

When we can see and connect with other’s pain and passion and grief, we soften.

This is our way forward; let’s FEEL our way, let’s sense what is right, instead of spewing out facts and statistics and experts.

This is where we’ve lost our way; we live in a culture where facts are king; where we have to have scientific “proof” for anything to be real. That leaves our humanity in the dust.

That leaves us to throw facts at each other and we all know that facts and stats and all of that cold, emotionless stuff can be twisted to fit our narrative. And we don’t connect that way.

We connect on a cellular and energetic and emotional level; we can’t quantify why we all feel the pain of this community in Florida or Connecticut, or Vegas, etc.

We are humans and in this moment of collective evolution, THAT is what we tap into. Don’t THINK so much, feel into this and then act on that core love of ‘all that is’.

February 24, 2018 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s fix this mess…..

It’s become a mantra. “The world is a mess”.  We hear it and say it over and over.  The world is dangerous, it’s chaotic, it’s unpredictable, it’s a horrible place to bring children into.  All true, I suppose.  But, it’s always been that way.

Life on planet earth is all of those things and I’m pretty sure it was the same, even BEFORE all of us highly intelligent and highly evolved humans showed up.  It’s fascinating how nature and science are so orderly and rhythmic and yet life is so chaotic.  But, alas, it is.

We see this disorder and randomness in our lives everyday, but we never can quite grasp it as the natural order.  We still believe that if we follow the rules, eat right, brush and floss and pay our taxes, we’ll be okay.  All of those things won’t hurt, but if we’re honest and awake, we know that as the old bumper stickers used to warn us, “Shit Happens”.

The key is how do we react to ‘shit happening’?  I’ve often thought  that I live a charmed life.  Things just seem to work out for me and I look around and see so many people that have had really awful things to deal with.  My parents are still alive at 92, my siblings are alive and healthy.  I am alive, healthy and professionally successful.  What on earth do I know about suffering?

Well, I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’ve been on and off the wagon several times.  I spent time in jail…in two different states.  The drinking was very damaging to me and to numerous relationships.  I’m sober, but never quite in the clear.  My husband was diagnosed with cancer 8 years ago and lost one of his kidneys in the process.  We got through it and he is cancer-free.  I’ve battled almost crippling self-doubt and self-hatred.  I’ve gone through several rounds of counseling and dealt with abusive co-workers and a hostile work environment in one of my first radio jobs.  So, there’s that. Charming, eh?

So many people that I know and don’t know have been through and are going through way more brutal things in their life, but my point is that we all suffer as humans.  Nobody really has a ‘charmed life’.  It’s all in how we deal with it and how we react to the inevitable pain, setbacks and trauma that will happen.

The first lesson is to realize that nothing lasts.  Life is impermanent.  The pain of this moment will subside, as will the joy.  Life moves on and very soon we’re on to the next thing, good or bad.  When you stub your toe going to the bathroom at night, it hurts like hell, right?  For about 2 minutes.  Then, it passes.  Even if it’s broken, it heals in time.

Secondly, practice compassion.  We’ve all been ‘that person’ who is rude in line, cuts someone off in traffic, talks loudly on a cell phone, doesn’t pick up after their dog, etc.  It happens.  Be patient and realize that person may be going through something extremely painful; they may not be themselves at that moment.  Understand that we are all flawed and capable of turning into an asshole in an instant.  Silently wish them well and let it go.

I guess my point is that if the world is a mess, it’s up to us to clean up our own.  We leave little human messes in our wake all of the time.  I certainly have and still do.  In trying to temper our reaction to events, we can make the world a tiny bit less chaotic and painful.  That’s all we can do.  We can’t control other people, despite our delusions to the contrary.  But, we can cut them some slack and even wish them well on their journey.  We all suffer together in our humanity.

Stay connected.  We can help to clean up this messy world, one person, one act at a time.

April 7, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Love your people like you love your dogs….

dogsI was sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace reading one of the many spiritual tomes that currently adorn my nightstand.  My two dogs were lying on either side of me; so peaceful and sweet and relaxed.  As I was rubbing Junior’s belly it occurred to me that if I were to treat all of the humans I encounter with the same patience and forgiveness that I afford my dogs, my world might change.

I have two Jack Russell Terriers, Chili and Junior and have had various numbers of JRTs in the house for over 20 years.  They can be a handful, but I love their spirit and athleticism and sense of humor.  They require a fair amount of training and lots of praise and patience.

We’ve always used rewards much more than punishment and we allow them their dogisms; chasing squirrels (within reason), killing small rodents (again, not encouraging massacres), tugging, chewing, wrestling, digging, occasional barking binges.  At our house, they are allowed on the furniture and one sleeps in the bed. I just let them fulfill their nature and ‘be’.

As with humans, there are occasional bumps in the road.  A couple of months ago they got into a fight to the death over some food and I foolishly got in the middle of it and ended up in the ER getting intravenous antibiotics due to a badly infected dog bite.   Chili, the perp, was unapologetic, while Junior seemed upset about the fight and my injury.  Me?  I was pissed that I was dumb enough to get into the middle of the rumble knowing that the dogs wouldn’t have any idea who they were biting.

I forgave and moved on.  After massive doses of Levaquin and Flagyl.

But, what if that was one of my ‘people’?  What if during a rough stretch or an emotionally raw moment, someone sliced me open with a thoughtless comment or action?  Would I be so forgiving of their human-ness?  Doubtful.  The anger and hurt would fester like my dog bite, but it would not heal.  It would calcify into at best, a checkmark on their permanent record or at worst, a hardcore grudge.  Maybe even hatred.

I hear your cries.  “But, Jane! Our dogs love us unconditionally and they don’t know any better.  People are different. People know what’s right and wrong!!”

My reply is:  so what.  We’ve all been that person.  The thoughtless one who said something cruel or let someone down or lashed out in anger or frustration.  That is us being human. We all have those moments and I am going to try and remember that next time I want to toss out a ‘screw you’ to someone that I feel has wronged me.

Every religion and spiritual path in the universe teaches us two things: Love and forgive your fellow humans.  Period.  So, no excuses about how dogs are nicer than people.  You should have been at my house when Chili was clamped onto my wrist like a Great White.  Or watched them round up and murder the foreign squirrel in our house.  That is their nature and we allow it and forgive it.  Let’s try it with each other.

I’ll go first…and I hope that you will in turn, return that grace to me next time I say or do something stupid or hurtful.   Trust me, it won’t be long…..

February 2, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What the hell are we thinking?????

I tend to be pragmatic and I try to be proactive.   These are the two “p’s” that are currently propelling my philosophy.  Okay, I guess that’s 4 “p’s”.

Last year at this time, I was focusing on defining my spiritual life and after a fair amount of reading, thinking, writing and arguing I’m not much further along in that journey.  But, I’m glad that I took a proactive approach and began a foundation for a spiritual life.  I now know what what doesn’t work for me.  I have a hard time with ‘hope’ and ‘faith’; reality and human nature seem to make so much more sense and even though humans are squirrely and erratic, we all have some things in common.

We all have that ‘fight or flight’ mechanism.  We have a huge capacity to love and to hate.  We have basic survival needs: air, water, food, shelter, a smart phone.  We think we’re right and those who disagree with us are wrong.  We follow the rules and we break the rules, depending on the circumstances.  We know that we shouldn’t smoke, drink to excess, eat too much, drive too fast, watch lousy, soul-sucking reality shows, gossip, or hurt other people’s feelings and yet, we do.  So, knowing all of that, how proactive is hope or faith?  People are gonna do, what people are gonna do.

If that sounds sad or depressing to you, let me explain.  We humans are a messy, imperfect bunch.  Some of you may rely on religion to lift you above the fray of imperfect humanity, but then we’re right back to hope and faith.  Acting human and then praying for strength or forgiveness seems somewhat inefficient to a confused, imperfect heathen like me.  We all behave badly and yet, our definition of bad or wrong behavior seems to be defined more and more along political lines.  And that’s what I really want to get to: politics.  The fifth “p”.

I’ve been a Republican since I was old enough to vote, but I’ve begun referring to myself as the “world’s worst Republican”.  I am increasingly at odds with my party’s intractable stance on abortion, gay rights, religion and even some fiscal issues.  I’ve spent many years going along with ‘the party line” and as I’ve watched and listened to my party’s leaders for the past couple of years, I’ve realized that they no longer are in sync with my core beliefs.  I suspect that many Democrats are thinking the same thing about their party.

Both ends of the political spectrum have lost their minds.  The GOP is on the wrong side of history, when it comes to gay rights, abortion rights and their religious litmus tests.  The Democrats are in denial in about cutting spending, government waste and entitlement programs.  Both sides are full of crap when they say that special interests and huge amounts of money are only buying influence for the other party.

The bottom line is this:  all of politics is about money and influence.  The Tea Party has sounded the alert, as have the (too few) articulate members of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The left thinks that business is too powerful, while the right thinks the government is too powerful; both of them are right.  Money and politics are so tightly intertwined that we can’t blame one side or the other. They are conspiring to enrich and empower each other.  The two protest groups have a large swath of commonality.  They’re both right; the American people are getting the shaft.

So, let’s try a little pragmatism and proactivity, shall we?  I’m challenging you to sweep aside the dogma of your political tribe.  Question the nonsense that the pundits, political leaders and the talking heads expound.  It’s not a matter of rich vs. poor, Democrat vs. Republican, left vs. right, religious vs. not.  It’s a matter of all of us questioning the nonsense that we have swallowed from our leaders for a very long time.  Both sides are to blame, as are we, for not thinking clearly; for allowing ourselves to be told what to think and how to react.  We are being manipulated by fear, hate, ignorance and laziness.

Heck, take a little time to think and challenge ALL of your core beliefs.  Political, religious, personal, financial, professional.  Life is about evolution and re-evaluation and finding what works and what doesn’t.  Be proactive and pragmatic. Figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Start with my two p’s and see where you end up.


November 6, 2011 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments


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