Present Tense

2017: The Year of Complete Exhaustion

Let’s face it: 2017 has been a completely exhausting year. We’re all worn out, mostly from the weird energies and ‘new normals’ that have we’ve been faced with this year.

I would love nothing more than to go into the whole astrological significance and transits and energies and how this is affecting our lives, but I know better. Many of you find that silly and confusing…so onward. (But, it’s fascinating and amazingly accurate, so maybe I’ll write about it later for those who are interested)

I guess the main theme and watchword for the past 12 months or so was ‘disruption’. As I watched the news or read about current events, my own mantra was “Nothing Makes Sense”.

As the year went on, this became something I repeated over and over to whoever would listen (usually my poor husband who is the main receiver of my insights and wisdom:) After a while, I started saying it with an exasperated chuckle.  Eventually, things got so crazy, you HAD to laugh.

We kept trying to fit this square peg of a year into the nice, round hole of comfort, security and ‘the way things have always been’. Try to do that physically and you’ll soon be banging that peg with a sledge hammer, creating an even bigger mess and problem.

This was the year that all of the buried shit in our culture began to rise up, like a plugged up toilet. The normal and expected result after we poop or pee is that we push the handle and it flushes it all away; out of sight, out of mind.

2017 was the year that we pushed the handle like we always do and suddenly the toilet tank begins to fill up.  No flushing! Holy shit! And I mean that literally.  Here it comes…overflowing…overwhelming…what do we do?

This was the year that we had to begin to see that our collective toilet is plugged. That we’ve pushed things down, underground, out of sight, out of mind for literally centuries.

Racism, sexism, misogyny, abuse, male domination, bigotry, religious zealotry, white supremacy/nationalism, violence, corruption, corruption, corruption, homophobia, ignorance, inequality of kinds; shall I go on?

You get the picture. All of these horrors have existed, but we buried them nicely, so that many of us who are not directly affected (and as we’ve seen over the past year, with #MeToo, etc. that nearly ALL of us HAVE been affected, we just felt powerless to speak) have been able to just whistle past the graveyard.

So, as we all stand here at the end of 2017, with the sewage puddling around our feet, now what? Do we get a shop vac and suck it all up? Do we get out our mops and sanitizer and make the bathroom sparkle again?

OR do we unplug the goddamned toilet?

Let’s stop shoving things into it, hoping to flush it all away. Let’s begin to allow unpleasant things to be seen, rather than buried or flushed.

This is the legacy of the past year AND of the Trump presidency. It was to disrupt and to force us to see who we are. He is our mirror. Ugh, right?:) But, that’s the hard part, isn’t it. Seeing our warts and prejudices and ignorance. Tough stuff.

Do I think he had this all planned out? Oh, for God’s sake, NO! But I see so clearly that this had to happen. We had to be shaken up. Do I like it? Not really, but I have gotten to the point where I understand it and see that it’s a necessary evil.

We can’t keep flushing away our problems…the septic tank is FULL.

So, relax this weekend. Reflect and try to see past all of our fears and discomfort and disruption of the past year. I know it’s been exhausting, but growth and insight and resolve take a lot of energy.

2017…you kicked our butts, but I think you lit a fire and for that we will look back in gratitude.

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Era of Stupid

I’ve begun to refer to this time in history as ‘the era of stupid’. To me, there is no other explanation for what is happening in our culture.

Watch enough cable news or read enough online postings and it becomes abundantly clear that the ‘enemies’ are smart, competent people.

We call them ‘elites’. Which to me, are people with decent educations, bright minds and a level of competency in their field.

But, in our current climate, that is considered suspect and even dangerous and a reason to toss them out of these positions.

God forbid that we have people in sensitive and importantant positions, who actually KNOW what they’re doing. Or have the ability to learn and innovate because they can ACTUALLY THINK and use big words. Oh, the horror.

We live in an era and a culture where people drive around with bumper stickers that say “My kid can beat up your Honor Student.”

The era of stupid.

When did we get to the point where education and brains became a liability? When did we get to the point where deep thinking and rational and interesting discussions became “Whoooooaaaa, egghead…that’s way too deep for me…here, have another beer and a jalapeño popper and chill…”

We are proudly ignorant! I hear it and read it all of the time.

And I guess we get what we want when it comes to leadership.

There is segment of us (that seems to be growing, sadly) who think that all we need is ‘hard work and common sense’, rather than those “Ivy League educated elites (code for egghead or anyone with a college degree…a derogatory term)” leading us.

Well, I’ve got news for you: 2017 was the year to realize that the ‘proudly ignorant’ (some of them with Ivy League educations) in positions of power, don’t always know best.

We’ve seen that “common sense” is relative and may not help solve a nuclear crisis that has been years in the making and that pronouncing that you can fix everything, without any previous experience, is probably merely a boast.

Walk into any bar and you’ll hear somebody sitting on a stool, carrying on about how he/she can solve the world’s problems or run the country or tell “Rocket Man” what’s what.

Most of us have the inner sense to know what we don’t know. I sure do. I have no idea how to solve most of our problems. Honestly, it’s waaaaay to complex for me and I know that I don’t have the background or experience to even unravel how we got here.

I do, however understand how we got here. How we fell into the ‘age of stupid’.

We had leaders in both government and media who appealed to our fears, our insecurities, our survival instincts.

They knew that there always has to be an enemy and they have played us like a fiddle. Most of us think that we’re not good enough, smart enough, fit enough, pretty enough, strong enough, wealthy enough….shall I go on?
That makes us easy to manipulate.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that you must have a college degree to be smart and competent. That’s not my point. My point is that there are people who just KNOW more than we do.

Journalists for one. For the most part, they DO have more information than I ever will. They swim in their jobs and are surrounded by the people that they report on. They ask questions, they hear things, they run down leads, they have sources. They KNOW STUFF.

Same for someone who has spent many years in any job, whether that’s government services or fixing air conditioners or trying cases in court. There is a level of expertise and competency that should be respected.

“Draining the swamp” has enormous unintended consequences that smart and competent people have been warning about.
I honestly am at the point where I don’t really care about Rs and Ds, Red or Blue; both sides are prone to corruption and manipulation. But, for the LOVE OF GOD, can we dig ourselves out of celebrating stupid?

Stop being so proudly ignorant. Stop making fun of the ‘brainiacs’ and deep thinkers. If something seems too “deep” or confusing or complex, take a minute to listen and think and even do a little research. Ask questions and attempt to grasp the concept. Learn something.

We have the entirety of the world’s knowledge in the palm of our hands on our phones, and yet, we revel in NOT KNOWING or even caring!!

So, it’s almost a new year. How about we try to make this new era, the “era of enlightenment”. You don’t need an Ivy League degree…It’s a little to late for many of us. But, let’s at least allow that smart is good.

Smart will save us.

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 2 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

Don’t Know Mind

surrender2016 is the year of the purge; a time to cleanse. Every astrological, metaphysical and spiritual video/newsletter/blog that has shown up in my inbox over the past week has reiterated this same theme. It’s the year to leave some wounds behind and get your shit together. We can’t build anything new, until we expunge the old. Shred it, smash it, burn it. Just do it.

I’ve recently gone back to reading some things with the Buddhist tone or theme that awakened me 5 or 6 years ago, as I began to re-shape my life and my reactions to my life. The overriding theme of Buddhism, to me anyway, is that we cause ourselves and others so much pain by our lack of honesty and clarity. We cling to what “should be”, rather than what is. In Buddhist terms, that is called suffering.

We do it all day, every day. Because we are humans. Because we live in our minds and we make up stories about how other people should behave. We judge, we criticize, we rant, we argue. In some horrible instances, we shoot, we stab, we blow up, we murder or sanction murder via our leaders and governments. All in pursuit of our need to control what “should be”.

Painful, isn’t it? Yes. And it affects our personal health, both physical and emotional, our global health and obviously, our spiritual health, which some believe is actually beginning to come back from the dead, despite so much evidence to the contrary on the 24 hour news channels.

Accepting ‘what is’ and letting go of ‘what should be’ is one of the greatest paths to clarity. At least it has been for me. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t suffer and rage, just like you. I do, but I’m more and more able to arrest it more quickly, thanks to meditation and practice.

One of the most obvious ways that we suffer from ‘should be’ syndrome is with politics. We are all so invested in the outcome of elections that we fight and argue and call the other side awful names and in too many cases, expunge those who disagree with us from our lives or our Facebook friend list.

I’m not voting in the Presidential election this year. I’ve been lectured, I’ve been cajoled, I’ve been criticized and called selfish for this decision. I’ve been told, “well, then you can’t complain if you don’t vote”. Really? Watch me.

Here’s why I’ve made this choice: Every 4 years, we choose teams and then we fight and we name call and we invest a lot of time advocating, often with great hostility, for our team. It’s painful and frustrating and time consuming to go all in for one candidate or the other.

Then, we have an election. Half of the people celebrate. “We won!!”. The other half are bitterly disappointed. “Our lives will be horrible, now”. Neither is true. So, again, we are living with what “should be”, rather than “what is”.

The losing team, now spends the next 4 years berating, complaining and hoping for complete and utter failure of the winning team. There is no compromise, no tackling of problems or working toward solutions. New problems and crises arise and the losers complain bitterly that it’s all the winners’ fault.

The winners refuse to see that there might be some credence in the philosophy of the other side. That the losing team might have some good ideas. “Elections matter. We won. You lost. SHUT UP.”

Sound familiar. Sound painful and non-productive and silly?

We are all too invested in outcomes. We all just want to win and be right and then rub the losers’ noses in it. Nothing really changes. Nothing gets solved and it is a vicious, every-4-years cycle that I choose to remove myself from.

I honestly don’t care who wins. I have to live my life regardless of who is elected as the Leader of the Free World. So, why invest? I have to deal with ‘what is’ after an election. Period. This is referred to as “don’t know mind”. In other words none of us can ever predict an outcome with any accuracy at all, so why try? Any one of those running could be a great leader or a horrible one. We just don’t know, do we?

Think about some instances in your life that seemed tragic or painful or catastrophic, that actually resulted in a decent outcome or at the very least, some personal growth. I was fired from several jobs. In that moment, it was horrible, but I ended up in better situations.

I suffered some very painful losses of loved ones over the course of a short time and yes, it was extremely painful, but I’ve had a spiritual growth spurt thanks to that shock.

We honestly have no idea of the consequences of any action. Embrace that, open up to it and begin to let go of the ‘should be’ and live with ‘what is’.

So, what if we just remain open to whatever arises? What if after the election we accept the outcome and accept that we have no idea whether it will be good or bad? Because it will be; good and bad and calm and chaotic and scarce and abundant. That is life. Accept it for what it is. You will adapt, you will change, you will be forced to.

And that’s okay. Nobody is right or wrong.

Life has a way of making us face reality anyway. Might as well be two steps ahead, eh? Embrace the ‘know nothing’ mind. Be free. Surrender.

January 30, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

%d bloggers like this: