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

Talking to myself

universe-1044106_960_720I was reading something about my natal astrological chart and the placement of a particular planet or asteroid.  Thanks to this placement, it said I was very good at giving advice…to other people.  The article suggested that I sit down and give myself the same advice that I would to a give a friend in my situation.  That’s not so easy, eh?

But, here goes:

Jane:

First off, you need to lighten up. You just don’t laugh like you used to.  In fact, you walk around with creases in your face, looking as if you’re deep in worry or concern or even agony.  Not a good look for you.

You can’t solve all of the world’s problems.  I know you feel called to speak up and call out what you perceive as ignorance, injustice, foggy thinking, hypocrisy, blah, blah, blah, but sometimes people enjoy the confusion.  Or maybe the people that you think are confused, are actually wiser than you.

We all look around us and see ‘other people’ screwing up.  It’s their fault that there isn’t more love and peace in the world.  If only ‘other people’ would seek enlightenment; if only they would awaken.  Well, some will and some won’t.

Jane, you can only fulfill your own destiny.  You can only walk your own path and your overwhelming need to control your own path bleeds out into needing to control everyone’s.  That, my dear, is not enlightenment.  That is suffering and confusion and pure futility.

You’re also way too hard on yourself.  The striving for perfection in your diet, your intellect, your pet guardianship, your finances, your….well, your life, is paralyzing you.  You are on a constant and exhausting search for the holy grail that will transform you into this being of glowing health and light.  This striving is what is actually KEEPING you from attaining this.  STOP striving!  Stop grasping and controlling and gnashing your teeth.

Jane, the dogs and cats will be fine.  Allow them to just ‘be’ without the constant worry over their diets, well-being and activities.  The same goes for your darling husband.  Let him be who he is.  Don’t micro manage his diet, his clothing, his TV/media consumption.  Let that shit go.

You have to trust more.  Life will flow as it flows, just like the water that embodies your astrological sign of Scorpio.  You have a lot of water in your chart, along with a fair amount of fire, but you need to give the water freer rein to tamp down that fire that compels you to be constantly ‘workin’ it’.  Flow, Jane.  It’s all any of us can do.

The bottom line is that you know all of these things.  You’ve studied and read and ruminated and immersed yourself in the metaphysical and the spiritual.  You meditate, do energy work, call upon your guides, spend time in nature and attempt to give it all up to The Divine/Source/Spirit/The Universe and yet, you still suffer.

So, finally, here is my advice to you/me:  Listen.  To you, to me, to Source, to nature, to your gut.  All of the guidance, help and comfort that you seek is in you.  It’s already here for you.  Listen and don’t question EVERYTHING.  Listen.  Allow.  Then, be.

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The answer is spirit

Minolta DSCI have this theory and I share it every chance that I get. My theory is this: we as humans, are not evolved enough to function effectively in the modern world. Technology and the pace of life has outstripped our ability to process and adapt.

Look around and you will see stress, chaos, anger, frustration, violence, fear, road rage, supermarket rage, Facebook rage. We are chronically offended, scared, angry, busy, fat, sick, unloved, confused, over-medicated. This is primarily in our wealthy and powerful 1st world country. The problems in the 3rd world are even more dire.

The world is exploding and we are paralyzed to react, other than with anger, fear, closing borders, blaming the ‘others’. It’s damned painful, isn’t it?

We don’t understand ourselves right now. We feel as if we’re trapped between two worlds or planes of existence. We were told that technology and progress would save the world; would lessen our burdens and infinitely enhance our ‘quality of life’. But, not so much, eh?

We aren’t ready for all of this. We aren’t ready to live in the big, wide world. It’s too much. Too much information, too much chaos, too much to do and to buy and to hoard. For many of us, too much pain.

Too much.

So, what do do? How the hell do we begin to cope and to see a way forward?

Spirit.

There are many who claim to be religious, but are you in touch with spirit? Do you embrace the sacred and the divine, meaning that you believe and realize that we are all connected. All of us and every single thing on earth and in the cosmos. We share energy and when the energy becomes so negative that we can barely stand to be in our own skin, we have to actively attempt to change it.

Here is what I and millions and millions of others, throughout time, have used to try and tap into this energy: meditation. You can call it prayer, if you’re more comfortable with that, but I believe that prayer and meditation are subtly different. However, the main objective is to quiet the mind, tap into this infinite energy that animates and surrounds and connects us to all that is.

This is a practice. Think of it as part of your personal hygiene regimen. It’s emotional, mental and spiritual hygiene. We need this as humans. The ancient wisdom all speaks of various forms of leaving our bodies, to commune with other spirits and the spirits of the universe.

You can do it alone or you can join with others. We need group energy. We need to get back to ceremony and ritual. We need that as we need food and water and air and fire.

Some of you may have watched Oprah Winfrey’s recent 7 part series called “Belief”. Although it didn’t dig very deeply into religious or spiritual tradition, the one thing that I took away from it was this: we need ceremony and ritual and actual physical gatherings to sustain us. We crave a ‘tribe’ to celebrate and reflect on rights of passage, growth, death, birth, love, belonging. We are too scattered and too divided and fragmented.

In order to begin to make sense out of this global chaos, we need to make sense of us. Make sense of our lives, our purpose, what animates us; we need to find a way to listen to our souls and then to begin to share that with others.

Be honest. You feel this, too. Maybe you can’t quite articulate it because of the unease, fear and anxiety you’re feeling. You may feel foolish, as you’ve rejected religion and spirituality for some reason. It’s not scientific or factual or concrete or ‘modern’. You might have to take a leap of faith that is airy-fairy and some of those close to you may mock your interest in something so lacking in ‘proof’.

That of course, is the beauty of faith and spirit and belief. Once you commit, you begin to see and feel proof. You begin to trust your feelings and intuition and you start to KNOW something that you dared not think about, in these times of technology and progress.

It’s ancient and it’s in your DNA, both physical and spiritual. Give in. Embrace. Know yourself and you will begin to know and love others. You will begin to see what we’re doing to each other, to the earth, to all that is around us.

I promise.

November 16, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Re-assembling My Soul

meLooking back on your life can be a surreal exercise. I believe that even though we retain the same name and biography, we are not the same person from day to day, let alone decade to decade.

The ‘me’ of 20 years ago is not the same ‘me’ of today. Biologically, not one cell in my body is the same; they’ve all been replaced many times over. My day to day and minute to minute experiences have altered my outlook, behavior and reactions. My friends and co-workers and geography have changed. The things that interest me or take up my time are radically different and so how are we the same person throughout our lifetime?

My husband and I argue about this all the time. He looks at life as more of a long progression or a movie, whereas I see it as a bunch of snapshots or more of a photo album. When I look back, I see it as chunks of time that I often no longer relate to. Even if that chunk was in the recent past.

I’ve been struggling with our move from Colorado to Michigan over the past year and a half. I was drawn back to my home state for reasons that I could not explain at the time. Something compelled me to move back to a state  I hadn’t lived in for over 30 years. I didn’t question it, I just did it.

All was well for the most part, until a few devastating things happened, including the death of my dog and then, the sudden death of my 93 year-old father. Those two incidents made the already difficult transition of moving across the country, much more challenging. I longed for our life in Colorado, where Chili was still alive and my sweet daddy was a phone call away. I found myself pulling that ‘photo album’ off my mind’s shelf all of the time.

It didn’t help that my job was still in Colorado, so I was constantly reminded of what I was missing. I spoke to Denver every day on the radio and flew back for work fairly frequently. It was hard straddling two lives, while I was grieving so much. That’s one of the reasons I chose not to renew my contract when it expired last year. I had to live in one place and accept that my life was now on a beautiful 10-acre farm in northern Michigan.

So, I talked my husband into a ski trip to our former neighborhood. As we drove up Berthoud Pass into Fraser, Colorado, it felt as if I had never left. My exact quote was: “I feel like the last year and a half has been a dream and now I’m waking up to reality”. That’s how much I loved that segment of my life.

I’ve kept in contact with the folks who bought our house and we were able to pop in and spend some time visiting with them and my beloved house. She has offered to let us stay there when we visit, but I just wasn’t sure that I could handle that. Too hard. But, visiting with her and ‘my’ house was the most important part of the trip. That house is loved and cared for and I felt a huge wave of peace as we left.  All is as it should be.

We skied in beautiful conditions; there is no place on earth that makes me happier than a ski mountain and so this trip was therapeutic in ways that I never imagined. We snowshoed through the beautiful meadow behind our former home and I was able to soak in the images and energy of the mountains that I love. My happy place. The place where I left part of my soul.

So, that leads me to my next theory. All of those ‘photo albums’ that I mentioned earlier contain bits of our soul. We leave pieces of it as we travel our path and I guess our goal is to somehow call them all back at some point; to reassemble our souls as best we can by letting go of regrets and anger and bitterness. By being grateful for the people, places and experiences that have either chipped at our soul or filled it. We are a constant work in progress and we morph and grow and shrink and evolve, depending on the state of our soul.

I am so grateful for my time in Colorado because I know that for me, it’s a magical place, even though it took leaving to make me fully aware of how much I love it. I’m grateful that I can come back and visit and feel its familiarity. I also know that there were some very difficult times while I lived there and I must honor those challenges as well. It wasn’t perfect; no place or time in our lives is.

But, my soul is fuller after this trip. That part of my life is past and I’ve accepted it and embraced it. So, my message to you is to find your happy places and go there. Often. Whether in your mind’s eye or physically. You’ll find little pieces of your soul there.  Call them all back; it’s what makes us whole again.

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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